Together scientists and journalists can spot poor preprints

University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Search for this author in:

ASAPbio, San Francisco, California, USA.

Search for this author in:

Tom Sheldon’s concern that preprints might lead to poor research being overblown in the media is more likely to apply to the press releases circulated to journalists under embargo than to the preprints themselves (Nature 559, 445; 2018). Wherever they hear about a story, journalists are under the same obligation as scientists to critically review the work they intend to communicate to readers.

When journalists try to secure independent expert opinions, they should indicate whether and how preprint manuscripts have been screened — in keeping with disclaimers on some preprint servers. And scientists can impede the spread of low-quality information by publicly commenting on preprints and peer-reviewed papers, giving readers an insight into the scientific community’s reaction to a work.

The increasing popularity of preprints is an opportunity for researchers, institutions, funders and journalists to coordinate discussion of how research is covered in the media.

Nature 560, 553 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06053-5

Competing Financial Interests

Jessica Polka is employed by an organization (ASAPbio) promoting the productive use of preprints in the life sciences.

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.