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Will the medical community embrace a preprint server?

At the recent Eighth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication, Harlan Krumholz a cardiologist from Yale, outlined MedArXiv, a forthcoming preprint server for the medicine and health sciences. The archive will be maintained by the Yale Open Data Access (YODA) Project and aims to:

  • Improve openness and accessibility of scientific findings
  • Increase speed of dissemination of knowledge
  • Enhance collaboration among researchers
  • Document provenance of ideas
  • Facilitate proactive sharing
  • Improve with wisdom from the community.

The project has received mixed reviews as outlined in a recent article by Martin Enserink. Concerns include the changing of clinical practice in response to data that have not been peer-reviewed and the fact that some journals may not consider an article that has been uploaded to the preprint server for full publication. Krumholz argues that such a repository would speed up research and trial results are often available in advance of publications through press releases and meeting presentations. Others point out that the peer-review process itself is not an exact science and flawed publications can still pass through the system. Will the clear “watermarking” of papers as “not reviewed” allay concerns?

Preprint servers are already available and used by physicists (arXiv) and those in the life sciences (bioRxiv). Although, the launch of MedArXiv has been delayed, it is expected soon. It remains to be seen whether those in the medical community will be as willing to use and embrace such a system.

MedArXiv logo

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Summary by Jo Chapman, PhD from Aspire Scientific

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