Launching in the February issue of Nature Reviews Immunology, the Preprint Watch column is designed to provide rapid and open access to early data on both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 immunology preprints. The first two reviews are: Super(antigen) target for SARS-CoV-2 and Sensing our Z-RNA.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the pace of scientific discovery and the race to find solutions required swift communication of results and fuelled an increase in immunology preprints. Journal club communities around the world seized the opportunity to evaluate and critically analyse a large number of SARS-CoV-2 preprints to provide independent insights to frontline researchers, to the general public, and to help prevent misinformation.
The journal group at Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York, and the OxImmuno Literature Initiative at the University of Oxford were both producing regular preprint summaries related to the COVID-19 emergency. Towards the end of 2020, the journal club teams from both institutes joined forces to launch the Oxford-Mount Sinai (OxMS) preprint journal club. During a weekly virtual joint ‘journal club’ they discuss selected preprints using their cross-institutional expertise and find the latest advancement in immunology. This new way of assessing and reviewing preprint literature may become a new approach to academic peer reviewing.
Felix Richter, Wellcome Trust DPhil student and co-founder of the OxMS Journal Club initiative at NDORMS said: “We are very happy to have started the first cross-institutional preprint journal club in collaboration with Nature Reviews Immunology and our colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The aim of this community-based initiative is to identify trends in up-and-coming literature in immunology. It further provides a training opportunity for early career researchers to assess primary research data and provide constructive feedback to peers in the field. We hope it will be of benefit to the preprint authors by providing useful suggestions to improve their research and by highlighting their research strengths.
We believe that other journal clubs around the world can use our approach to create more of these ‘preprint club hubs’ for immunology or other fields of science. The partnership with other international Institutes, publishers and organisations specialised on providing peer-review training to early career researchers is key to the success of this initiative.”
The launch edition of the Preprint Watch column comes with an editorial from Nature Reviews Immunology that explains the rationale for covering preprints and the precautions that must be considered with their use.