For authors, one of the most exciting potential benefits of preprints is the ability to attract early feedback on their work from a broad and diverse group of peers. Preprint journal clubs can provide this input – and a valuable review experience for their own members as well. This page provides resources for setting up preprint journal clubs and information about ongoing initiatives.
There are many benefits to including preprints in journal clubs, including the feedback for the authors and opportunities to raise your profile as a researcher and reviewer, check this infographic for a summary of why journal clubs should incorporate preprints in their discussions (the infographic is also available in French, Portuguese and Spanish).
The Community Call on November 2020 was focused on preprint journal clubs, the speakers Sandra Franco Iborra, Daniela Saderi, Fabio Palmieri and Sara Llorente Armijo covered the benefits of including preprints in journal clubs, tips to set up and run preprint journal clubs and their experience participating in this type of activity. The slides from the Community call are available here, and you can also watch the full video below.
“Including preprints in journal clubs may be very useful for training critical thinking at an early stage of a researcher’s career, and provides benefits for the authors and future readers”
Sara Llorente Armijo, #PreprintReviewChallenge participant
There are several existing initiatives that focus on the review and evaluation of preprints:
PREreview is a platform for preprint journal clubs started by two ASAPbio Community members, Daniela Saderi and Sam Hindle. PREreview also provides useful resources and support for organizing and running preprint journal clubs.
Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview is a platform that allows the posting of rapid evaluations on outbreak-related preprints, if you cover such a preprint in your journal club, you could use their evaluation template and post it on the site.
preLights hosted by the The Company of Biologists, enables early career researchers to create posts that highlight notable or interesting preprints. Contributing preLights for preprints discussed in your journal clubs could be an opportunity to widen the visibility of your review – note that preLights contributors are selected via application process so do contact them if you are interested in participating.
Other platforms are described in detail in this crowdsourced spreadsheet.
Examples of preprint journal clubs
Prachee Avasthi, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and ASAPbio President, started a course for graduate students called “Analysis of Scientific Papers” while she was at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The class took the shape of a journal club in which students learned how to critically evaluate scientific manuscripts.
What made Prachee’s course unique is that the papers under evaluation were 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.