The general public might lose belief in science if scientific and medical researchers select to bypass the standard excessive requirements of peer-reviewed medical journals within the rush to get analysis knowledge launched, significantly throughout crises such because the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is the warning from three main medical communications organizations, which have revealed a joint assertion within the peer-reviewed journal Current Medical Research and Opinion – asserting that the integrity of revealed scientific and medical analysis should be protected.
Out at this time, the joint assertion from the American Medical Writers Affiliation (AMWA), the European Medical Writers Affiliation (EMWA), and the Worldwide Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), argues that though peer-review remains to be the commonest course of for vetting scientific publications, there’s a worrying pattern for manuscripts to be launched with out pre-publication overview.
Particularly throughout the COVID-19 well being disaster, medical researchers have felt important stress to publish COVID-19 findings as shortly as doable, however the assertion emphasizes that having a pre-publication overview remains to be important. The hazard is that after the brink of publication oversight is lowered, it turns into a precedent that can’t be simply reversed, probably eroding requirements and inflicting the general public to lose belief in medical science. “Medical communicators, together with writers, editors, and people concerned in high quality management, play a vital function in making certain that medical and scientific knowledge are revealed and disseminated in an correct and clear method. Within the present rush-to-publish atmosphere, all stakeholders within the scientific and medical analysis communities and press should be certain that the general public have right and actionable data from which to make well being and medical choices,” defined Gail Flores, PhD, President of AMWA.
Particularly, the assertion highlights the impression of preprints – preliminary scientific experiences which might be made publicly out there on-line for anybody to learn and talk about earlier than they’ve been peer reviewed. Whereas preprints allow fast launch and dialogue of information, many are by no means revised or corrected, and solely a couple of third-to-a half are ever totally revealed. This may additionally happen with articles submitted for post-publication peer overview, wherein an article is revealed in its unique type, earlier than professional peer reviewers are invited to critique it.
The assertion acknowledges the advantage of fast publication however alerts that they need to be vetted in opposition to the potential harms related to an accelerated course of. “Significantly in these instances, it’s extra vital than ever to retain public belief in science, whereas balancing the necessity to report well timed and related medical analysis,” said Beatrix Doerr, PhD, President of EMWA. In in search of a decision, the three organizations current suggestions and a Reviewers’ Guidelines to supply a minimal customary of pre-publication vetting to reinforce preprint publication processes.
Their key suggestions embrace:
- Performing extra intensive and constant checks ? for instance, by preprint server hosts ? – on articles that haven’t been peer-reviewed previous to publication.
- Referencing preprints and articles uploaded for post-publication peer-review solely as in-text reference (with a preprint hyperlink, DOI, or each), somewhat than as a bibliographic reference, and clearly labelled as a preprint, or as present process post-publication peer overview.
- Watermarking articles plus together with a disclosure inside the physique of the article highlighting that the findings haven’t been formally peer-reviewed.
- Educating medical journalists and the general public concerning the variations between preprints, post-publication peer overview, and conventional peer overview.
Crucially, the organizations have additionally recognized methods wherein the peer-review course of – famend for being “laborious and time-consuming” – may very well be expedited. They name upon every stakeholder – authors, journal editors, and publishers – to play an element on this. Their key options embrace:
- Speedy response workforce of reviewers
- Standardized formatting necessities to shorten the time to re-submission
- Moveable peer-review
- Quick-track choices
- Incentives for reviewers
“For these engaged in preprints, post-publication peer-review, in addition to conventional peer-review publications, our joint assertion presents key sensible suggestions to safeguard the standard of the publications whereas supporting their extra fast dissemination. We strongly encourage authors, journal editors, publishers, and different stakeholders to overview and apply these sensible options, making certain a high-quality customary for revealed analysis, no matter the format,” emphasised Robert J. Matheis, PhD, MA, President and CEO of ISMPP.
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