Preprint journal clubs

For authors, one of the most exciting potential benefits of preprints is the ability to attract early feedback from broad and diverse sources during the preparation of a scientific manuscript. Preprint journal clubs can provide this input – and a more meaningful review experience for their own members as well. Here are some examples and resources for setting them up.

Prachee Avasthi’s preprint journal club

Prachee Avasthi, an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, runs a course for graduate students called “Analysis of Scientific Papers.” The class takes the shape of a journal club in which students learn how to critically evaluate scientific manuscripts.

What makes Prachee’s course unique is that the papers under evaluation are drawn exclusively from preprints. As she explains in the video above, this has several benefits:

  • Students’ feedback is actually useful to authors since it’s created while a manuscript is under revision, instead of after it has been published.
  • Since students are expected to share their reviews, they must pay more attention to maintaining high quality commentary and a productive tone.
  • Posting these reviews publicly helps to demonstrate the review process to other students and to scientists interested in the evolution of the paper in question.

Prachee has generously shared her syllabus and introductory slide deck, and the students’ reviews can be found on the Winnower.

Other preprint journal clubs

We’d like to collect a list of similar groups and the tools that facilitate them. If you’re aware of others, let us know at jessica.polka@asapbio.org.

Whether in a course or on a blog, feedback from journal clubs can have a positive impact on authors and their science.