“In order to foster broad and inclusive participation in this conversation on preprints, we need a positive culture around preprint feedback, but what does this look like in practice? This is the question that the ASAPbio preprint review cultural norms Working Group is tackling. The group is discussing what behaviors reflect the preprint feedback culture we would like to see, with the goal of developing a set of norms for all participants in preprint feedback.
The Working Group is pleased to share an initial draft of principles for creating, responding to, and interpreting preprint feedback, clustered around four broad themes: Focused, Appropriate, Specific, Transparent – FAST. The table below provides elaboration for each of the FAST themes, and we invite feedback from the community on these principles….”
“Last year, we convened a Working Group to reflect upon and develop a set of best practices for public preprint feedback. Our rationale was to provide a framework that could benefit and support authors, reviewers, and the community to engage in public and open scientific discussion of preprints, while ensuring a thriving and welcoming environment for everyone. The group worked on a set of “norms” that reflect the behaviors and culture we would like to promote to increase participation and acceptance of preprint public commenting. The result is the FAST principles for preprint feedback, a set of 14 principles clustered around four broad themes:
Focused: assess whether our comments and feedback are targeted towards relevant and actionable parts of the preprint (e.g., the current focus of the paper or the scientific work, rather than suitability for a particular journal).
Appropriate: ensure that before engaging in any kind of scientific discussion, we have reflected on our biases and behave with the same level of integrity as in any other scientific exchange.
Specific: similar to reviewing a manuscript for a journal, preprint feedback should also evaluate the study’s claims against the data and clarify whether the critiques are major or just meant to tackle minor issues that don’t affect the overall findings.
Transparent: as with any type of scientific discussion, it is key to be as open and transparent as possible, embracing any oversights and crediting everyone who participated in the work. However, we acknowledge that not everyone is comfortable signing their comments. In such cases, we provide alternative options for reviewers to disclose their background or expertise to contextualize the comments they post….”
“While preprint feedback is beneficial for the authors, reviewers, readers and other stakeholders, public commenting on preprints has so far remained relatively low. Cultural barriers likely influence participation in public preprint feedback. Authors fear that competitors will leave unfair criticism, or that even fair criticism will bias journal editors and evaluators: while nearly every paper will be thoroughly criticized during journal peer review, the rarity of this feedback being out in the open might lead some to believe that the paper receiving it is especially problematic. Potential reviewers, especially those who rely on more senior colleagues for career advancement, are concerned about retribution for public criticism, or simply harming their reputation by leaving uninformed feedback.
In order to overcome these concerns, we convened a Working Group to discuss how to alleviate the social friction associated with public feedback by developing a set of behavioral norms to guide constructive participation in preprint review. The Working Group brought together relevant stakeholders (researchers, editors, preprint review platform representatives, funders) to discuss the challenges around participation in preprint review and explore what cultural norms could enable and foster further participation in public commentary and feedback. …”
Abstract: There has been strong interest in preprint commenting and review activities in recent years. Public preprint feedback can bring benefits to authors, readers and others in scholarly communication, however, the level of public commenting on preprints is still low. This is likely due to cultural barriers, such as fear by authors that criticisms on their paper will bias readers, editors and evaluators, and concerns by commenters that posting a public critique on a preprint by a more senior colleague may lead to retribution. In order to help address these cultural barriers and foster positive and constructive participation in public preprint feedback, we have developed a set of 14 principles for creating, responding to, and interpreting preprint feedback. The principles are clustered around four broad themes: Focused, Appropriate, Specific, Transparent (FAST). We describe each of the FAST principles and designate which actors (authors, reviewers and the community) each of the principles applies to. We discuss the possible implementation of the FAST principles by different stakeholders in science communication, and explore what opportunities and challenges lie ahead in the path towards a thriving preprint feedback ecosystem.
“There are many benefits to public feedback on preprints: comments that can help authors improve their work, broader opportunities for early career researchers to participate in review, and additional context for readers. However, we have not yet seen wide engagement in the public review of preprints. This is likely due to cultural barriers: there is a lack of incentives for researchers to participate in preprint review, but there can be risks associated with posting pointed critiques, however constructive, on the paper by another researcher whose favour you may require for a future job or grant.
If we are to foster a positive and thriving environment for public preprint feedback, we need to collectively agree on the norms and behaviors we expect when creating, responding to, and interpreting preprint feedback. This was the remit of the ASAPbio preprint review cultural norms Working Group, which has been developing a set of principles for preprint feedback over the last six months. Following the initial draft shared last July, the Working Group has iterated on the principles based on feedback and has discussed their potential use by different stakeholders in science communication.
We are pleased to now share the FAST principles for preprint feedback. This is a set of 14 principles clustered around four broad themes: Focused, Appropriate, Specific, and Transparent (FAST). Each principle includes a designation for the actors it applies to: authors, reviewers and the community….”