Category Archives: News

ASAPbio response to FASEB’s statement on the NIH RFI on preprints

1/19/2017 update: We will close the signature drive at 9pm EST on Sunday, 1/22/2017.


The NIH released a RFI (request for information) on “including preprints and interim research products in the NIH applications and reports.”  ASAPbio, and many individual scientists, responded with arguments in favor of providing scientists with the option, not requirement, of citing preprints in NIH applications/reports as public evidence of their most recent work and productivity. FASEB, a scientific society claiming to be the voice of 125,000 scientists, issued a strong negative response to allowing preprints to be used in NIH grant review.  We, junior and senior scientists of the ASAPbio Board of Directors feel that there are many deeply problematic issues with FASEB’s arguments including 1) an unfamiliarity with preprints and even an articulation of incorrect information, 2) a lack of transparency of how they derived their decision, and 3) a view that there is “no need to read” original scientific papers, which we feel is not the type of culture that the funding agencies should foster in order to promote excellence in grant review. Because FASEB claims to speak for many societies and many scientists, their letter (signed only by the FASEB President) could be given disproportionate weight by the NIH (for a past historical example, see this article).  ASAPbio therefore has written this detailed response to FASEB (see below). We are also collecting signatures of scientists who support the option to cite preprints in NIH grant applications and reports here until 9pm EST on 1/22/2017.

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Update on development of a Central Service Request for Applications (RFA)

At the ASAPbio Funders’ Workshop in May of 2016, representatives of funding agencies requested that ASAPbio “develop a proposal describing the governance, infrastructure and standards desired for a preprint service that represents the views of the broadest number of stakeholders.” Toward this end, we proposed a model for a “Central Service” (CS) that would aggregate content from multiple preprint servers, facilitating human and machine access to preprints via a search tool and an API.

Three separate processes are now ongoing to define this service:

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ASAPbio’s response to the NIH RFI on preprints

Note: the RFI is now closed. The NIH has announced a policy that encourages the use of preprints.

The NIH has recently released a request for information (RFI) on the use of preprints and other interim research products. We encourage all interested parties to respond to the RFI using the submission website by the deadline of December 9th 2016 (extended from November 29th).

ASAPbio’s draft response is posted below. Even if you completely agree with our draft, we encourage you to submit your own responses as well. A large number of responses will be critical in conveying a strong message of community interest in preprints and other interim research products to the NIH. Responses from individual scientists at all career stages are encouraged. You do not have to respond to all questions, and the responses can be short. If you would like to share comments or your own response to the RFI, please use the comment section below the post.
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Four foundations announce support for ASAPbio

This announcement was originally posted on the Simons Foundation website.

On June 20, four foundations announced their support for ASAPbio (Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology), a scientist-driven effort with a mission to promote the use of preprints in the life sciences. The combined total provisional funding — from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Simons Foundation — is $400,000 for work to be conducted over the next 18 months.

The hope is that use of preprints will catalyze scientific discovery, facilitate career advancement and improve the culture of communication within the biology community. Continue reading

Vale & Hyman publish eLife article on preprints & priority

Tony Hyman and ASAPbio founder Ron Vale have just published a Point of View in eLife building on their earlier blog post.

ABSTRACT: The job of a scientist is to make a discovery and then communicate this new knowledge to others. For a scientist to be successful, he or she needs to be able to claim credit or priority for discoveries throughout their career. However, despite being fundamental to the reward system of science, the principles for establishing the “priority of discovery” are rarely discussed. Here we break down priority into two steps: disclosure, in which the discovery is released to the world-wide community; and validation, in which other scientists assess the accuracy, quality and importance of the work. Currently, in biology, disclosure and an initial validation are combined in a journal publication. Here, we discuss the advantages of separating these steps into disclosure via a preprint, and validation via a combination of peer review at a journal and additional evaluation by the wider scientific community.

Summary of the ASAPbio Funders’ Workshop

The following is a message from funding agency representatives who attended our recent Funders’ Workshop.

As research funders who attended the ASAPbio Funder’s Workshop for Preprints held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on May 23-24, 2016, we wish to provide a brief summary of the meeting. This follows the initial Funder’s Perspective drawn from the first ASAPbio Workshop held on February 16-17, 2016, and continues our desire to be transparent while the community continues to explore the value of preprints to the biomedical research enterprise.

At this workshop, the funders were presented with a summary from the first workshop and the results of a survey conducted by ASAPbio. This was followed by an open discussion of the scholarly and technical goals of a preprint service. The agenda then moved to a discussion of two exemplary models of shared governance of a resource in an international setting, Europe PubMedCentral (Europe PMC) and the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB). The final context setting for the funders discussion was provided by representatives of existing and anticipated preprint services,  ArXiv, bioRxiv, PeerJ, F1000 Research, and PLOS. What followed was an open session with all stakeholders present and a closed session involving only the funders.

The consensus of the workshop attendees reflected high enthusiasm about further development of a preprint service for the life sciences. At the end of the day, it was agreed by all in attendance that:

  1.      A preprint policy that is as homogeneous as possible across funders is desired, especially in the way that preprints are considered as part of proposal grant submission and review. A subgroup of funders will draft a concept paper addressing some of the policy issues that might arise when implementing such a preprint policy. This draft will be shared with other funders for their input.
  2.      The funders asked ASAPbio to develop a proposal describing the governance, infrastructure and standards desired for a preprint service that represents the views of the broadest number of stakeholders. The proposal should include a budget, goals, milestones and implementation timeline to bring an appropriate community defined preprint service into operation.
  3.      This letter be distributed as widely as possible to inform all stakeholders of the continued interest by funders in expanding the use of preprints by the life sciences community.

Philip Bourne, The National Institutes of Health
Maryrose Franko, Health Research Alliance
Michele Garfinkel, European Molecular Biology Organization
Judith Glaven, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Eric Green, The National Institutes of Health
Josh Greenberg, The Alfred P Sloan Foundation
Jennifer Hansen, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Robert Kiley, The Wellcome Trust
Cecy Marden, The Wellcome Trust
Paul Lasko, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Maria Leptin, European Molecular Biology Organization
Tony Peatfield, Medical Research Council, UK
Brooke Rosenzweig, The Helmsley Trust
Jane Silverthorne, The National Science Foundation
John Spiro, The Simons Foundation
Michael Stebbins, The Arnold Foundation
Nils Stenseth, European Research Council
Carly Strasser, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Neil Thakur, The National Institutes of Health
K. VijayRaghavan, Department of Biotechnology, India

CC-BY-SA Thomas Ulrich, Flickr

Moore Foundation requests grantee feedback on preprint policy

The Data-Driven Discovery group at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation released a post on Medium today soliciting feedback on proposed changes to their policies on a variety of open access practices. Preprints are discussed as follows:

Ideally, all journal articles would first be available as preprints. Preprints are versions of your manuscript that are not yet peer reviewed. Many journals allow you to submit articles that have been available as preprints (see this listfor more information). Read more about the benefits of preprints here. Typical places where preprints are deposited for free (read more from Jabberwocky Ecology blog):

  • arXiv (for physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology)
  • bioRxiv (for any biology research)
  • PeerJ Preprints (for biology, medical/health sciences, computer sciences)
  • figshare (for any research)

You can read more and provide input at the post.

Image CC-BY-SA Thomas Ulrich, Flickr

Simons Foundation supports preprints in grants

On May 20, 2016, a Simons Foundation initiative, SFARI, announced that it has changed its policies to support and encourage the use of preprints.

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) recently made two important changes that we hope will help to accelerate the pace of autism research. First, we changed our grant award letter to strongly encourage all SFARI Investigators to post preprints on recognized servers in parallel with (or even before) submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Second, our biosketch form was updated to include space for SFARI grant applicants to list manuscripts deposited in preprint servers; we and our outside peer reviewers will take these manuscripts into consideration when making funding decisions.

Read more on the SFARI website here.

ASAPbio attendees’ commentary in Science

A group of attendees of ASAPbio have published a commentary in the “Policy Forum” section of the journal Science on May 20, 2016. Written by scientists and representatives from journals and funding agencies, the paper serves as a meeting report and summary of opinions on the use of preprints in the life sciences.

Correction: This paper contains a sentence stating that “the median review time at journals has grown from 85 days to >150 days during the past decade.” This is true of Nature, but not journals as a whole. Daniel Himmelstein’s analysis shows that delays across all journals have remained stable.

Photo by N. Cary/Science