The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the life science industry and has catalyzed the use of approaches that will, in due course, allow us to build a more responsive and therefore resilient healthcare ecosystem. For example, in response to the urgent need for fast insights and global collaboration, we have seen a significant increase in demand for preprints, or publicly accessible scientific manuscripts that have not yet been certified by peer review. Preprints are valuable for offering a rapid, albeit unvetted, view of new research potentially coming down the pipeline, helping organizations inform their own research approaches in response to recent, relevant activity.
The beauty of preprints is in their ability to openly communicate new research with virtually no lag time. That’s a stark contrast to work published via peer review, a process with a median lapse time of 166 days. After a brief quality-control inspection, a preprint manuscript is posted without peer review and can be viewed without charge by anyone in the world. Of course, peer review remains an essential process to ensuring quality research, which is why many manuscripts are submitted for peer review and preprint publication in tandem.