Posted by: bluesyemre | May 11, 2020

#ScientificResearch on the #coronavirus is being released in a #torrent


Will that change how science is published?

Exponential increases are a hallmark of pandemics. The spread of sarscov-2 around the world has followed such a curve inexorably. But so, too, has the research effort to understand and control the virus. More than 7,000 papers on the pandemic—covering everything from virology to epidemiology—have appeared in the past three months (see chart). A fifth of them have come out in the past week alone.

This is astonishingly fast. Researchers usually take years to design experiments, collect data and check results. Scientific journals, the self-appointed keepers of the gate between those researchers and the rest of the world, can easily take six months, often a year, to grind through the various steps of their procedure, including editing and the process of checking by anonymous outside experts, known as peer review.

The current public-health emergency has, however, turbocharged all this. With physicians, policymakers and prime ministers all needing the latest science in order to make immediate life-and-death decisions, speed has become paramount. Journals have responded to sharp rises in submissions by working overtime. In so doing they have squeezed their normal processes down to days or weeks.

Getting a move on

In the view of many, though, this is not enough. These people support a different way of disseminating scientific information—one that dethrones the journals by making journal publication an optional extra rather than a researcher’s primary goal. This model of scientific publishing relies on online repositories called preprint servers, on which papers can be posted swiftly and with only minimal formalities. Mathematicians and physicists already use them widely. Biologists increasingly do so too. Covid-19, however, has seen a step-change. Around half of the available scientific work on the pandemic has been released through preprint servers. The hope of preprinting’s supporters is that this will make the shift to using them irreversible.

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