Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Preprint at work and at work for preprints

 Source: https://blushgreengrassatafridayafternoon.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/preprint-at-work-and-at-work-for-preprints/comment-page-1/#comment-157

Preprint at work and at work for preprints

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our experience getting rejected
during the review process, at the R1-R2 stage, for novelty reasons.
Another group had submitted and published a competing manuscript after
our initial submission. This all happened while we had posted the preprint
of our manuscript on biorxiv several months prior.  Our story ended
well. After some noise the editors reconsidered and invited us to
resubmit. You can read the whole story here.

A couple of months have passed since the graceful turn around of
PLoS. We were able to address the remaining reviewer’s concerns. So now
our manuscript is improved and finally fully approved be the peer review
process. You can read the accepted version of the manuscript here, all previous versions here and a short media snipped here. ///In case you are interested in improving crops be intergenus transfer of immune receptors I recommend these papers in wheat, rice and Arabidopsis.///

….this whole story was only possible with PLoS, who actually cares
about the community it serves. Imagine a AAAS or Nature group journal, I
bet they would have simply swept us aside.

Enough of the background story….Was it worth all the hassle? Do
preprints work in my field (of plant biology)? Would I post a preprint
of my work again?

Yes it was worth all the hassle. I truly think we were treated
unfairly as it simply isn’t good manners to reject a manuscript due to
novelty reasons alone during the review process. The journal already
engaged you and asked for more. Now it simply drops you like a hot
potato?!? No one wants a dirty potato off the floor! Our preprint simply
made our case stronger and public.

Yes it was worth all the hassle. Our preprint got over 1500 visits
and 500 pdf downloads before publication with PLoS. Doesn’t sound much
to you…well it is well more than none while hidden away in a pile of
papers of a busy reviewer.

I think it is (very) early days for preprints in plant biology.
Several (senior) PIs told me that it doesn’t work, it isn’t good for
your career, it hurts early career researchers, the field is too
competitive….well that’s their opinion not mine. Others have written
good posts of why to support preprints (here, here, here, here) 
so I won’t repeat all that jazz here (yet see below). The plant biology
community in particular though can only profit from more openness
including preprints, post publication peer review (PPPR), public peer
review (PPR) and similar new ways of improving the peer
review/publication process. I tend to wonder if many of the high profile
retractions (here and here) and falsification accusations (here and here)
could have been avoided in a more transparent culture. Impossible to
tell in hindsight yet well worth striving for in near future. More
transparency and openness is really the only way forward…

Yes of course! Every time I have the chance I will post my manuscript
on a pre-print server at time of submission. I deem it ready to go
public so no reason to hold back! /// I even hope to  get feedback on a
preprint someday./// This decisions of course also depends on my
co-authors and our journal choice. ///See (not fully up-to-date)
policies here.
And no in my experience AAAS does not support preprints./// Also the
American Society of Plant Biology (ASPB) wasn’t really supportive of
preprints up to very recently. Thankfully this has changed due to
lobbying efforts of several of its members (including myself) as you can
read here and here.
ASPB hasn’t publicly announced this change however I hope they follow
in the footsteps of other big societies such as American
Phytopathological Society (APS), Amercian Society of Microbiology (ASM), and Genetics Society of America (GSA) to only name a few. It is great to see scientific societies listening to their memberships.

Yes preprints work as long as we work for them. It will be great to
see preprints fully take of in (plant) biology including pre-publication
reviews such as here.  I can
only agree with others that the whole publication experience needs to be
improved. Researchers should not feel like ‘beggars can’t be choosers’
when it comes to publication and sharing their knowledge. Hidden away
peer review might help improve your manuscript in many, but for sure not
all cases. It doesn’t appear to be the best way to decide on accept/reject of your manuscript (see also here) and thereby deciding on your future in academia.

Preprint at work and at work for preprints | lushgreengrassatafridayafternoon

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