We are writing to inform you about some developments since the first ASAPbio meeting at the HHMI in February. This meeting, which was attended by a diverse group of individuals representing many institutions and followed by a sizable online audience, had an intended goal of learning whether there is increased interest and greater support for the dissemination and use of preprints in the life sciences. Most, if not all, of the participants arrived at a consensus that preprints could play a wider and more valuable role in the biological sciences. The atmosphere at the meeting was constructive, several constituencies voiced their ideas about how the wider use of preprints might be achieved, and many ideas about the appropriate next steps were debated.
When the February meeting concluded, several pragmatic issues were left unanswered:
- Are funding agencies, US and international, interested (perhaps as a consortium) in supporting and sustaining a preprint service for life scientists?
- Should there be one or multiple preprint servers and, if multiple, how would the information on the servers be coordinated?
- How should preprint server(s) be governed so that it best reflects the needs of the scientific community?
- How can information retrieval be made easier for scientists (e.g., by linking preprints, journal publications, and other types of data from the same work)?
Among the encouraging signs at the February meeting was the enthusiasm voiced by several funding organizations for preprints as a means to advance the science they support. To pursue the funders’ interests expeditiously and in hopes of gathering information that would help answer the above questions, ASAPbio is proposing to hold a smaller and more focused event that will gather representatives of funding agencies (public and private funding organizations from the US and abroad), representatives of several existing preprint servers, data management experts, and prospective users from the life sciences. The NIH has agreed to hold the meeting on their campus, but has not made other commitments to preprint services at this time. The meeting is in an early planning stage; the date, invitation list, and agenda/goals are still being formulated.
To encourage frank discussion and debate about sensitive financial issues at this smaller gathering, we do not expect to use live streaming, as was done at the initial and larger gathering in February. However, ASAPbio will promptly post a detailed summary after the meeting on this web site and encourage participants to publicly discuss their views. Furthermore, we will continue to use polls and other “feedback” mechanisms via the ASAPbio website to ensure that large numbers of scientists are able to voice their opinions of the type of preprint system they favor. The first poll is already well underway and we would appreciate your participation; additional polls/feedback are being developed.
In the interim, please feel to contact us with any questions, ideas, or concerns.