The rapid communication of scientific data and methodologies is more important now than ever. One means of conveying such information is via preprints, which are complete scientific manuscripts uploaded by the authors to a public server. These articles become immediately available for quick dissemination throughout the global scientific community.
An integral feature of the preprint concept is the advantage of community peer review. PREreview (Post, Read, & Engage with preprint reviews) is an open-source platform for crowdsourcing collaborative and constructive peer reviews of preprints. There are two primary reasons community peer review of preprints is necessary. First, the traditional manuscript review process is slow, inefficient, elitist, and opaque. Second, although peer review is a critical component for scientific dissemination, very few scientists receive any formal training in it. PREreview’s mission is “to bring more diversity to scholarly peer review by supporting and empowering the community of researchers, particularly those at early states of their career, to review preprints.”
PREreview is ideally positioned to serve as a hub for scientific journal club participants to practice reviewing papers and sharing their feedback. Preprints provide accessible and current data at a stage where community peer review can still push science forward. Journal club preprint reviews benefit (1) authors, who receive early and actionable feedback on their manuscript, (2) early career researchers, who have an opportunity to develop critical thinking and peer-reviewing skills, and (3) the entire scientific community, who can immediately participate in discussions about newly generated research.
PREreview collaborated with the nonprofit Outbreak Science to develop Outbreak Science Rapid PREreview (OSrPRE), an open infrastructure to help researchers read, provide, and request feedback with a quick turnaround on outbreak-related preprints. More information is available in PREreview’s Outbreak Science blog post. PREreview also recently joined forces with JMIR Publications to host a virtual discussion and collaborative review of a recent preprint covering new COVID-19 research.
Both PREreview and OSrPRE employ a Code of Conduct emphasizing shared values and the basic social ingredients of “Be constructive; Be respectful; Be supportive.” There is also a Resource Center with information on how to start a preprint journal club, how to give constructive feedback, templates, and more. All PREreviews receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which allows for open sharing of feedback and the opportunity to list reviews on CVs.
See the companion HSLS Update article, “Upcoming Preprint Library Sessions,” for information on upcoming HSLS offerings on preprints.