Preprints and the spread of information about COVID-19: Alperin, Fleerackers

January 20, 2021
In a new article from The Conversation, Simon Fraser University Assistant Professor Juan Pablo Alperin and PhD Student Alice Fleerackers describe the challenges of publicizing unreviewed preliminary scientific research. Preprints, which are posted online without receiving formal verification from the scientific community, can share important information in an accessible and free format. However, since preprints are unreviewed, they can create confusion when read outside of the scientific community. Alperin and Fleerackers describe how this happened during the first months of COVID-19 where preprints received much more media coverage than normal. A study conducted by the authors shows that around half of the stories about preprints that they reviewed did not alert readers to the fact that the research was unverified. The article ends by highlighting the importance of responsible communication about preliminary research. The Conversation (National)