We were excited to take part in the ASAPbio #FeedbackASAP event this week, which focused on preprint review and its potential to unlock and accelerate scientific discovery. The attendees cut across the spectrum in research subjects, location, gender, career stage, etc, providing a fertile ground to shine on light on the aspects of preprint that are sometimes overlooked. This helped bring in a breadth of perspectives that are sometimes lacking at scholarly events. The mix of discussion and range of participants were also both informative and inspiring.
There was a rich array of breakout sessions, including ‘Curation and review in the preprint landscape’ run by Sciety. It was encouraging that other breakout sessions highlighted Sciety as an example of a tool for using public evaluations of preprints with standardised information about how they have been conducted.
For our breakout session, we delved further into the role of curation and how this enhances preprint review. Curation and review, alongside finding articles of interest, form the main planks of the things Sciety can help you do. You can see our activity board here to get a flavour of the discussion.
In a continuing effort to build a tool that works for researchers and the scientific community, we used this session to explore ideas with users and potential users alike. The range of opinions about curation and review showcased the wide breadth of representation. Reassuringly, the majority of opinions were positive.
Nonetheless, a point was made about curation acting as a gatekeeping medium, which sometimes means curation is the preserve of certain parts of the scientific community. This point made our breakout session even more necessary because Sciety breaks that barrier as a ready-made tool for curating selected preprints by any researcher, regardless of their career stage. With Sciety, your audience can view your curated list whether logged in or not - although logging-in gives them the access to save any article they find on your list, to theirs.
Some of the many positive points raised about curation in general were its ability to;
- Spot new talents
- Overcome bias which suppresses work from underrepresented researchers
- Highlight contents for non-experts
- Shine a light on work by underrepresented researchers
- Navigate the scientific literature as a consumer
- Bring attention to work in developing countries
- Identify questionable work
- Keep papers in dialogue.
These points no doubt place a high value on preprint curation and the potential reward of it for the scientific community. For us, the most important role is helping to amplify underrepresented works through preprint curation. Sciety opens the gate to curation as no longer a preserve for a segment of researchers.
What we learnt through this workshop is that there is a passion to curate if the right tools and resources are there. You can read on our Miro board some of the motivators. And we will work to ensure Sciety helps address the detractors.
Where do we go from here?
Curation has been the focus of our latest updates to Sciety, with improved linking and display of the saved articles list on your user page. We have also worked with ASAPbio Chair, Prachee Avasthi, to help curate a list of her recommended preprints.
Why not curate your own list and let us know who you are sharing it with? We would like to help you share your list further through our channels. Just drop us a message.
This event was useful and a great opportunity to identify areas where more work needs to be done. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our partners at ASAPBio for organising it. We will continue to work with them to build on the lessons from this event.