A group of early-career researchers have harnessed cross-institutional journal clubs to assess and review immunology preprints.
As early-career researchers (ECRs), we have experienced at first hand the challenges and consequences of navigating the peer-review system. By pursuing careers in academia, we agreed to subject ourselves to the scrutiny of fellow experts in our field, who evaluate the quality of our research and grant proposals. The decisions of these few, often-anonymous individuals have far-reaching effects on career progression, funding opportunities and reputations, both inside and outside the scientific community.
The pandemic and the need for urgent scientific insight, analysis and knowledge demonstrated the powerful value of preprints and open peer review. They offer a tantalising insight into a different way of conducting scientific publishing. Despite the shortsighted calls by the ARC, there is a need for a sober reflection on the lessons and potential future that COVID offered us. This piece that appeared in Nature provides a useful starting point.
Papers are increasing in volume, complexity and interdisciplinarity, which means that the pool of available and qualified reviewers is becoming ever more shallow. It can often feel as if the current peer-review model is reaching its limits. Unsurprisingly, recent years have seen the emergence of alternative publishing approaches that aim to address some of these limitations, such as the peer-review platform Review Commons2 and the switch last year in the journal eLife’s editorial process and publishing model3.