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Preprints could promote confusion and distortion

Tom Sheldon

The scientific community must take measures to keep preprints from distorting the public’s understanding of science, says Tom Sheldon.

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[...] As soon as research is in the public domain, there is nothing to stop a journalist writing about it, and rushing to be the first to do so. Imagine early findings that seem to show that climate change is natural or that a common vaccine is unsafe. Preprints on subjects such as those could, if they become a story that goes viral, end up misleading millions, whether or not that was the intention of the authors. [...] Another risk is the inverse — and this one could matter more to some researchers. Under the preprint system, one intrepid journalist trawling the servers can break a story; by the time other reporters have noticed, it’s old news, and they can’t persuade their editors to publish. [...]


Nature, Vol. 559, No. 7715. (24 July 2018), pp. 445-445, https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-05789-4 
Key: INRMM:14618572

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