The Preprint Revolution

When we established OJCPCD in 2012, we rejected the concept of peer review.  “Peer review, as it exists today, is an impediment to creativity and keeps many authors away from scientific publication while it serves as a filter to allow Editorial Boards’ gate-keepers to facilitate their academic cronies in getting their work into print.  We, at the Online Journal of Community and Person-Centered Dermatology are embracing a “post-publication ‘peer review’ model that is fair to all and will give voice to a more interesting and varied collection of articles.” (1)

The ultimate goal should be: free, instant scientific publishing

Free instant publishing: Once open post-publication peer review provides the critical evaluation function, papers themselves will no longer strictly need journals in order to become part of the scientific literature. They can be published as digitally signed documents that are instantly publicly available. Post-publication review will provide evaluative information for any sufficiently important publication. With post-publication review in place, there is no strong argument for pre-publication review. Publication on the internet can, thus, be instant and reviews will follow as part of the integrated post-publication process of reception and evaluation. (2)

As we try to stay abreast of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that there is a welcome enemy at the gates of peer review: a new type of publication has emerged.  These are preprints from non-commercial servers, such as medRxiv, ArXiv, bioRxiv, and others.

  • medRxiv : (pronounced “med-archive”) is a free online archive and distribution server for complete but unpublished manuscripts (preprints) in the medical, clinical, and related health sciences. Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.  medRxiv was founded in June 2019 by BMJ, Yale University and Cold Spring Harbor.
  • bioRxiv: is a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences. It is operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institution.
  • arXiv: is a free distribution service and an open-access archive for 1,679,507 scholarly articles in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics.

These three “preprint” electronic journals are reshaping the landscape of biomedical publication.  They are bypassing the stodgy. controlling, self-serving editorial boards of our “professional” literature and may be an access point for researchers who are serious about getting the word out without having to kowtow to anonymous, the often petty and self-important, peer reviewers.

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