How is science Checked?

When researchers complete work or make an interesting finding, they publish their results in scientific journals. However, before their articles are published they must pass peer review. This is a process where the research is sent to a limited number of other experts in their field to assess it before it is released to the world.

These other experts check that the methods used to collect the research were valid, and the conclusions drawn make sense and are clear. Often, papers will be sent for some edits before final publication.

What is Pre-Print?

Pre-print repositories allow papers to be sent out to the research community and the public before the research has gone through peer review.

This allows quicker access to the results of the work, since peer review relies on the schedules of other researchers and can take weeks or months to complete.

A number of pre-print repositories exist, including bioRxiv, medRxiv and Preprints with The Lancet

What are the risks?

Whilst pre-print can be a valuable means to share research quickly, there are fewer quality controls on the papers uploaded and so the conclusions may not be high quality.

Reports made on pre-print articles can end up being misleading or misinterpreted – or may be based on poor science.

This isn’t to say that journals don’t have their issues too. The slow pace of peer review can hold back wide sharing of results, and a tendency to publishing positive outcomes can stop important negative results from being reported.

Read more about evidence here and what scientist mean when they say there is “Not enough evidence”.