“In-group discussions that followed brought to light several observations on challenges and opportunities in the current publishing system:
Open peer review can be advantageous, particularly when the contents of the reviewer reports are made public while respecting the privacy of reviewers’ identities due to potential conflict of interest. This approach helps distribute the reviewing workload and allows experts to review papers within their specific areas of expertise.
The practice of preprint publishing is subject-specific: in physics and mathematics, it is customary to publish the preprints beforehand to invite comments and suggestions, but in applied areas such as agriculture, biomedical, or other fundamental areas like chemistry and biology, sharing preprints is seen as risky due to potential scooping.
Preprints are not considered for promotions, funding, and appraisal. However, preprints usher productivity in some situations as this is a medium of quick dissemination of information among peers.
At the same time, the papers already available in the public domain may face challenges in getting accepted in a journal. The journals that run on subscription models may have severe reservations about publishing preprinted work.
Misconduct regarding reviewing should also be considered, as anybody can post harsh or biased comments, which might affect the spirit and zeal of many early-career researchers.
Suggestions to popularize preprint services include uploading preprints only when the manuscript is ready for publication and promoting the concept of overlay journals. We must encourage young researchers to adopt innovative publication methods and foster collaborations with scholars worldwide to implement new publishing systems.
In the context of India, the new University Grant Commission (UGC) guidelines allow preprints to be considered for awarding doctoral degrees. Existing policies governing the publication system need to be revised, accounting for the value of Open Access, and peer-reviewed preprints, which allow wider dissemination of research findings while maintaining rigorous peer review.
A shift towards a more inclusive and transparent publishing model can promote accessibility and accelerate the progress of scientific knowledge, but we need to address the challenges of educating the public and researchers about the limitations of preprints….”