By Victoria Yan
At the ASAPbio #FeedbackASAP meeting held on July 21st, 2021, the Sciety team (Hannah Drury, Godwyns Onwuchekwa, and Paul Shannon) led an interactive session examining different aspects of the evolving landscape of preprint curation and review.
What is curation?
We began the session by brainstorming what curation encompasses. Through a mind-mapping exercise, the group identified highlighting, providing context, and selecting articles as some examples of what curation means. Just like curation that occurs in museums and in art exhibits, curation in research articles plays an important role in preservation as well as providing background context for research articles.
Not only can the reader learn about articles they might not otherwise have found, but the work is also connected to other relevant papers by virtue of inclusion in a collection that may cover, for example, a specific research topic. While many curation efforts focus on new papers, we discussed the under-recognized benefits of curating past literature rich in insights. However, despite these benefits, curation in certain communities can act as a way of gate-keeping. Counteracting this behavior requires specific attention to our inherent biases and could be addressed by diversifying the curator pool, an approach which Sciety is contributing to achieve.
What differentiates curation from review?
Next, the group was asked to address what differentiates curation and review. Curation and review are intertwined in traditional journal peer review where they occur prior to public dissemination. However, in the case of preprints, curation and review can be uncoupled. The group discussed different points at which these processes could occur in the preprint workflow. Curation is an activity that could be performed at any stage once the author releases the paper into any form of public platform, as well as on finished work. What this brings is the opportunity to make the work a living document and thus can add value.
Another distinction between curation and review is that review is scholarly work that adds additional text alongside the original article rather than sorting the original article into a list. Review acts to evaluate the strength of logic and the supporting evidence. The review reports on the validity of the research and should be performed by experts. In contrast, a wider community could engage in curation.
How can curation be useful?
The group then discussed how curation activity could be most useful. Curation can link related articles to one another and surface them to readers. Curation will be increasingly essential, as there are now 100,000 articles produced per month in the biomedical sciences alone, and especially as we transition to posting research first as preprints. Curation efforts will help researchers save time in navigating relevant articles and potentially amplify unheard voices. This can be powerful for reviewers and authors who are under-represented in science.
Would you like to curate the preprints you are reading? Then, Sciety is an open platform where you can do that with very little effort. Just log, search and start saving your articles of interest, and feel free to share (curate) your page publicly.
For more detail about the session, check out the post by Sciety did on their blog.