Every day, scientists post dozens of preprints—studies that have not been peer reviewed—on public servers such as bioRxiv. Preprints allow scientists access to cutting-edge findings faster than when authors submit their findings to traditional journals, which often take months to complete reviews. But what preprints gain in speed, they may lose in reliability and credibility, critics say, because peer review can finger mistakes and deficiencies. That is a worry especially for findings about medical treatments that nonscientists might misinterpret, possibly at risk to their health. The coronavirus pandemic has only heightened those concerns. But peer review does not appear to give a big quality boost to preprints, a recent study concludes—at least by one measure. The study, itself a preprint posted on March 19 in bioRxiv, compared 56 preprints posted on bioRxiv in 2016 with the peer-reviewed versions later published in journals.
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