Authors : Narmin Rzayeva, Susana Oliveira Henriques, Stephen Pinfield, Ludo Waltman
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a rise in preprinting, apparently triggered by the need for open and rapid dissemination of research outputs. We surveyed authors of COVID-19 preprints to learn about their experience of preprinting as well as publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.
A key aim was to consider preprints in terms of their effectiveness for authors to receive feedback on their work. We also aimed to compare the impact of feedback on preprints with the impact of comments of editors and reviewers on papers submitted to journals. We observed a high rate of new adopters of preprinting who reported positive intentions regarding preprinting their future work.
This allows us to posit that the boost in preprinting may have a structural effect that will last after the pandemic. We also saw a high rate of feedback on preprints but mainly through “closed” channels – directly to the authors.
This means that preprinting was a useful way to receive feedback on research, but the value of feedback could be increased further by facilitating and promoting “open” channels for preprint feedback. At the same time, almost a quarter of the preprints that received feedback received comments resembling journal peer review.
This shows the potential of preprint feedback to provide valuable detailed comments on research. However, journal peer review resulted in a higher rate of major changes in the papers surveyed, suggesting that the journal peer review process has significant added value compared to preprint feedback.