It’s been a big month for preprints!
NIH encourages preprints
On March 24, the world’s largest biomedical research agency released a landmark policy on preprints and other interim research products. The notice states that “The NIH encourages investigators to use interim research products, such as preprints, to speed the dissemination and enhance the rigor of their work.” It explains that “Interim research products can be cited anywhere other research products are cited,” and indicates that after May 25, 2017, “awardees can claim these products on their progress report publication list. They can also report them on their RPPR […] and link them to their award in their My Bibliography account.”
The policy is also highly detailed, providing guidance on desirable qualities of preprint repositories and expectations for author practices (including funding and competing interests disclosures). The notice states that “the NIH strongly encourages awardees to select a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license or dedicate their work to the public domain.”
The announcement was covered in Science Magazine, The Scientist, and STAT, and more information on the NIH’s process can be found in a post on the NIH’s Open Mike blog. The new NIH policy was developed in consideration of responses submitted to last fall’s RFI, some of which (including ASAPbio’s) can be found on our website.
ASAPbio’s RFA for a Central Service (a PubMed Central-like aggregator for preprints) will close in about 3 weeks on April 30. To prepare for the evaluation process, we’ve invited external reviewers as described in the RFA. In order to ensure that a community-selected governing body can launch well ahead of the inception of the service, we are also revising a draft set of operating principles and bylaws for this board. We will be releasing this governance document for public comment in the coming weeks.
Those of you on Twitter may be familiar with the #ASAPbio hashtag, which is often populated by discussion and community news. To complement the hashtag, you can now follow @ASAPbio_ for major policy developments and updates on our work.
Last month, we held a Town Hall meeting for Scientific Societies at NAS in Washington, DC. The meeting featured presentations by representatives of ASAPbio, NIH, and scientific societies who are innovating with preprints and publishing. More information and a video recording of the meeting is available online.
At the meeting, Neil Thakur of NIH shared results of the NIH’s Request For Information (RFI) on the use of preprints & interim research products in NIH grant applications and reports, which were overwhelmingly in favor of preprints. His slides are available to download here.
Also at the meeting, we announced a new $1 million grant to ASAPbio (which recently incorporated as a non-profit) that will help to catalyze the development of the Central Service. For more information about the service, please see our blog post that accompanied the release of an RFA (closing date April 30) and a list of principles and requirements established by funders.
Finally, it’s been a little over one year since our first meeting at HHMI Headquarters in Chevy Chase, MD. While we didn’t realize it at the time, that conference would turn out to be the catalyst for a year of work in promoting a culture of preprinting in biology. To celebrate, we’ve put together an interactive timeline detailing the history of ASAPbio along with major developments in preprint policy. View it here.
Stay tuned for more Central Service developments concerning community governance!
Ron Vale, Founder
Jessica Polka, Executive Director
Since the summer of 2016, ASAPbio has been iterating on a proposal for a “Central Service” for life sciences preprints, a database that would aggregate preprints from multiple sources and make them easier to access by humans and machines. We explain the benefits of such a service in a recent blog post.
Yesterday, 11 funders endorsed a set of principles for establishing a Central Service for preprints, and ASAPbio released an RFA to invite potential suppliers to apply to provide it. These developments were covered in articles in Nature, Science, and The Scientist, and more information can be found on the Wellcome Trust, MRC, and NIH websites. We welcome any thoughts or reactions through comments on the web or by email to jessica.polka (at) asapbio.org.
We’re also continuing our engagement with scientific societies. On February 23, we will hold a Scientific Society Preprint Town Hall meeting at NAS in Washington, DC to discuss how preprints can benefit scientific societies in the future. The meeting will feature perspectives from scientists, funders, and societies that are innovating with preprints. Please encourage your scientific societies to attend! More information is available by emailing jessica.polka (at) asapbio.org.
In other exciting news, the list of funding agencies supporting the use of preprints as evidence of productivity is growing: since December, HFSP, Wellcome Trust, MRC, and HHMI have announced new policies on allowing these products to be listed in grants and reports. We’ll continue to monitor these and other developments to policies at funding agencies, journals and institutions.
We need your help for an urgent action this week.
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. Several other scientific societies (including Wellcome Trust, MRC, HFSP, Simons Foundation, and the Helmsley Trust) have already implemented new policies on preprint citation in grants in the last 6 months.
FASEB, a scientific society claiming to be the voice of 125,000 scientists, issued a strong negative response to the RFI on 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 of how societies undermined a biology preprint server in 1999, see the open access version of this article). ASAPbio therefore has written this detailed response to FASEB, which will be sent to FASEB and the NIH.
We are also collecting signatures of scientists who support the option to cite preprints in NIH grant applications and reports until January 23, 2017. Please take 1 minute to sign your name here if you agree that the NIH should allow the option of citing preprints in grant applications and reports. These signatures will be sent to the NIH.
Please pass along this message or use your social networks to contact as many of your friends and colleagues as possible.
Thank you for your help!
Dear ASAPbio subscriber,
Tell the NIH what you think about 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 (extended from November 29th).
ASAPbio’s draft response is posted here. 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.
Crossref launches preprint service
Today, Crossref, the organization that assigns DOIs for journal articles, launches their preprint service! The service will offer a specialized content type for preprints, enabling them to be linked to their corresponding journal article. This development will make it easier for preprint servers and journals to display links (backwards and forwards) between different versions of the same article, and it will facilitate pooling of metrics, citations, etc between the versions. This is a landmark in the development of preprints as an integral part of the scholarly literature.
New resources at ASAPbio.org
How many life sciences preprints were posted in September 2016? Which journal now has Preprint Editors? Which funder is requiring preprint deposition? And which med school accepts preprints in tenure packages?
We’re now tracking the growth of preprints in the life sciences as well as new developments in funder, university, and journal practices and policies regarding preprints. You also can now view all of these newsletter posts (including this one) on the web. Finally, we printed stickers (below) to help create visibility and spark conversations about preprints. Just fill in the form at asapbio.org/stickers to request some!
Dear ASAPbio subscriber,
Here’s what’s new:
- We held a successful Technical Workshop to discuss the feasibility of creating a central preprint service. All the notes are online, and you can also view the archived video stream.
- We’re working on a request for information to identify potential suppliers, their implementation strategies, and their predicted costs and development timescales. We will present all reasonable responses to a group of funders as part of our response to a request that emerged from the ASAPbio Funders’ Workshop. More details about our planned process can be found here.
- We’ve added some new features to the website.
- The ambassador program kicked off in earnest.
- Check out the map to see who’s near you.
- It’s also not too late to sign up – we’re looking for people willing to act as local points of contact about preprints. We’re also providing resources to help ambassadors give talks about preprints at their home institutions or while traveling to conferences and other meetings.
Please let us know if you hear of any exciting developments in preprints in life sciences!
Jessica Polka, PhD
Dear ASAPbio subscriber,
It’s been an exciting few months at ASAPbio! Here’s what’s happened:
- The report of our February meeting at HHMI was published in Science, and Ron Vale and Tony Hyman recently published an article about priority of discovery & preprints in eLife.
- ASAPbio was awarded grants totalling $400,000 in provisional funding from the Arnold, Sloan, Simons, and Moore foundations for a period of 18 months.
- We held a Funders’ Workshop at the NIH on May 24th.
- As an output of this, representatives from funding agencies called for ASAPbio to develop a proposal for a preprint service for biology.
- In response to this request, we’re now seeking feedback from the community on a draft proposal for a central preprint service that could aggregate content from multiple servers. Please consider leaving a public comment on the web and sharing the link with your networks. After future iterations, we will present several variations to funders in the fall.
- To develop the technical aspects of this proposal, we’re hosting a Technical Workshop in Cambridge, MA on 8/30. We’re aiming to provide a video stream so that anyone can follow along.
Finally, effective 8/1, I’m now serving as full-time director of ASAPbio! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any comments, questions, or ideas on how we can work together to advance the productive use of preprints in biology.
Jessica Polka, PhD
Dear ASAPbio subscriber,
Last week, we announced the ASAPbio Funders’ Workshop, a small meeting to be held at NIH on May 24th to coordinate support among private and public funding agencies for preprints in biology. Representatives from existing preprint servers will attend, as will some junior and senior scientists.
To ensure that the voice of the community is well-represented at the workshop, we need as many responses as possible to our new, updated survey on preprint server preferences by May 20th.
Please consider sharing the following announcement with your lab, department, society, social media network, or other interested group:
Help shape the future of preprints with ASAPbio’s 10 minute survey
On May 24th, representatives of major funding agencies and existing preprint servers will convene at the NIH for the ASAPbio Funders’ Workshop. The goal of this meeting is to coordinate efforts to support a preprint service with maximum benefit for the biology community. In order to make informed decisions, the attendees of this meeting need to hear from practicing scientists like you. Please take 10 minutes to complete our updated and expanded survey at ASAPbio.org by May 20th! We’ll raffle off 50 ASAPbio t-shirts to survey participants, but more importantly, the opinions of all respondents will help shape the future of how we communicate results in biology. Please share the survey with your colleagues via email and social media using #ASAPbio.
Thanks for subscribing to ASAPbio’s newsletter!
As part of the followup to last month’s productive meeting, ASAPbio organizers and attendees have been working to spread discussions about preprints to the broader community. Recent articles at Wired, NYTimes, and The Economist have certainly moved the needle in this regard!
Please help keep the conversation going by taking one or more of the following actions:
- Take the survey on preprint preferences here. We’re trying to understand what attributes of preprint servers are most desired by the community – and whether one or several would be most beneficial. You responses will remain confidential.
- Post a submission selfie – take a photo of yourself and your coauthors celebrating a preprint submission and post it here.
- Become an ASAPbio Ambassador – Sign up to act as a representative for ASAPbio efforts at your institution. We’ll get in touch to provide materials to make organizing local “town hall” events easier. We are preparing this material now and it should be available within one month at the preprint info center on ASAPbio.org.
- Help us keep track of progress by leaving a comment with any news (a change in journal policies, a local event – even in the early stages of organization – a new article, etc,) here.