In 2023 we progressed 38 people through the third installment of the ASAPbio Fellows program. Together this group participated in cohort calls to provide fundamental knowledge and training around preprints in addition to multiple projects, which we celebrate here.
Awareness of preprints in Africa
The adoption of preprints across the globe has not been equitable, with most preprints being posted by the USA, UK, Western Europe and China. Regions such as Africa have a low level of preprinting. Unfortunately, data around the usage, awareness and perceptions of preprints in Africa is lacking. Therefore a group of Fellows undertook a survey to investigate the awareness and perceptions of preprints amongst Africa based researchers. The survey received over 180 responses and will culminate in a preprint posted to AfricaArXiv.
Preprints and graduation requirements
Across the world graduation requirements for PhD programs vary from no requirements to having published in multiple journals. Additionally, within the same institutions, programs can be just as variable. A further compounding issue is that requirements for graduation are not always formal requirements, often existing as expectations from departments or supervisors. Moreover, where requirements exist, they are often not transparent.
To begin to tackle this issue, a group of 2023 Fellows undertook a global survey to gather information on the graduation requirements of master-level and PhD programs. This group gathered over 80 responses across 18 countries and produced a detailed blog post including recommendations on graduation requirements.
Awareness of preprints in India
Similarly to Africa, the adoption of preprints across India has lagged behind the USA, UK, Western Europe and China. In 2022 ASAPbio ran a workshop on research assessment and preprints in India. Building from this, in 2023 the ASAPbio Fellows, in collaboration with India BioScience held 3 workshops to gather a deeper understanding of the attitude and perspectives of preprints in India. The outcome of these workshops is partially communicated in a blog post (link to follow) and will inform some of our activities in 2024.
Preprints in progress
One of the major benefits of preprints over the traditional publishing model is that preprints allow authors to share work at earlier stages, including as iterative updates. To date, there are no studies assessing the number or use of iterative preprints, although there are a small number of known examples. A group of 2023 Fellows produced a preprint investigating potential iterative preprints. A second group of Fellows produced an infographic outlining the alternative uses of preprints, beyond the traditional journal article styled output.
Crowd preprint review
In 2021, ASAPbio started activities to facilitate public reviews on preprints inspired by the crowd review model pioneered by the journal Synlett. In the first year, 14 public reviews of cell biology preprints were posted. In 2022, crowd review activities expanded to include cell biology, biochemistry and infectious diseases preprints (in Portuguese from SciELO Preprints). This resulted in 27 public reviews for bioRxiv preprints and 13 reviews for SciELO Preprints. In 2023, there were 4 crowds led by ASAPbio Fellows covering neuroscience, cancer biology, metabolism and meta-research; together, these crowds posted 35 public reviews of preprints. These reviews are available from sciety and PREreview:
- ASAPbio Cancer Biology Crowd
- ASAPbio Metabolism Crowd
- ASAPbio Meta-Research Crowd
- ASAPbio Neurobiology Crowd
Crowd preprint review will return next year in an expanded format. Additionally, in 2024 ASAPbio will provide support for current departmental journal clubs to convert into preprint review clubs in a further effort to expand preprint peer review and help train the next generation of scientists.
I want to thank all of the 2023 ASAPbio Fellows for their contributions over the year. They have provided valuable insights into preprints across different geographical locations and communities, produced preliminary data on graduation requirements and further expanded the crowd review. They have been a source of inspiration to bring positive change in scholarly communication. I look forward to continuing to interact with the Fellows across other ASAPbio initiatives and within the community.
Looking to 2024
We’re undertaking plans to revitalize the Fellows program for 2024 and look forward to opening applications soon. If you’d like to be the first to know when the applications open, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media. If you have any questions please email email@example.com.