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Wednesday, October 16 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Who will influence the success of preprints in biology and to what end?

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The panel for this session consists of:
  • Theodora Bloom, executive editor of the BMJ and co-founder of MedRxiv
  • Amye Kenall, editorial director for medicine and life sciences journals at SpringerNature
  • Dario Taraborelli, science program officer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
  • Humberto Debat, researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (Argentina)
  • Naomi Penfold (moderator), associate director at ASAPbio

The landscape of preprints in biology and chemistry is changing rapidly: at least eight new preprint servers have launched in the past year alone, established by journals, publishing vendors, scientific societies and research communities. Moreover, several conservative publishers now permit or even promote preprints, while the more progressive publishers and infrastructure providers support preprint adoption with interoperability and awareness. The significant and continued growth in preprinting at bioRxiv (https://www.biorxiv.org/) as well as the initiation of numerous other preprint-related initiatives in recent years may be evidence enough that the principle of preprints has been proven.

However, the conceptual vision for preprints in the life sciences - and current progress toward this vision - may vary depending on who you ask. For example, preprint server operators, journal publishers, preprinters and preprint readers, funders, policymakers and advocates may all have different normative ideals concerning:
  • What material should be preprinted?
  • When should preprints be preprinted, relative to publication?
  • What kind of feedback should be collected on preprints and how authors respond to it?
  • How and by whom should preprints be filtered and curated, creating reputational indicators that feed into research evaluation mechanisms?
  • How should preprints be reused?

Additionally, the future of preprints is uncertain. The rate of growth in preprint submissions is higher than that of publications, yet only 1 in 50 biomedical publications is preprinted today and adoption is highly variable between research communities; for example, a third of recent submissions to bioRxiv are from neuroscientists, bioinformaticians and microbiologists. While one funder (the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative - https://chanzuckerberg.com/) mandates preprints, there is a call for more funders to follow suit (Plan U - http://planu.org/). Meanwhile, the advocacy and adoption conversations we have and hear about at Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology (ASAPbio - https://asapbio.org/) remain dominated by fears relating to research evaluation and misuse: fears of scooping (including the perception of someone else unfairly gaining from your work), journal rejection, and the repercussions of finding errors in one’s own work and sharing erroneous science by others.

At this point, it is important to reflect together critically on:
  • What would successful adoption of preprints in biology look like to you? 
  • What do current preprinting practices (the who, how, where, when and why of posting and interacting with preprints) tell us about progress towards this vision for success, and the drivers and blockers influencing adoption?
  • Who makes the decisions about how preprinting is delivered, technically and socially? 
  • What are some possible unintended consequences of these decisions and is anyone mitigating these?
  • For whom do preprints not automatically work? For whom and by whom are they built, and who is not included?
  • What may threaten the success of preprints in biology?

Through an informal Q&A style conversation with representatives of different stakeholders, we will explore these questions as well as further questions from the audience. The intention of this panel session is to support transparency and meaningful collaboration between stakeholders, in a way that champions the productive adoption of preprinting in the biomedical and life sciences.

avatar for Theodora Bloom

Theodora Bloom

Executive Editor, BMJ

Amye Kenall

Springer Nature
avatar for Dario Taraborelli

Dario Taraborelli

Science Officer, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Dario is a social computing researcher, a technologist, and an open knowledge advocate based in San Francisco. As the Science Program Officer for Open Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, his goal is to build programs and technology to support open, reproducible, and accessible... Read More →
avatar for Humberto Debat

Humberto Debat

Instituto de Patología Vegetal, Centro de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria
avatar for Naomi Penfold

Naomi Penfold

Associate Director, ASAPbio
Talk to me about making preprints a success in biology. Tweet me @npscience.ASAPbio is a small non-profit organisation working to improve transparency and innovation in the life sciences by encouraging the adoption of preprints and transparent peer review. Tweet #asapbio @ASAPbio... Read More →

Wednesday October 16, 2019 4:00pm - 5:00pm BST
Presidents Room