During the COVID-19 epidemic, the need for fast publication of papers was felt more urgent than before. There are obvious benefits to publishing research results as soon as possible. For instance, researchers can share important discoveries with each other and with the general public around the world. At best they can help the efforts made to combat the epidemic and prevent research duplication.
Some researchers may have personal reasons for wanting to publish their research more quickly during this period. For example, they see this as an opportunity to create a list of publications in a short period. In addition, research on COVID-19 is now more likely to attract attention than any other subject. So, whatever the reason, researchers are looking for fast publication.
Ways for Fast Publication
For faster publication, many researchers target pre-print servers. Pre-print servers, like BioRxiv, have certain advantages. Most of them are very fast in publication and are also available for free. However, articles on pre-printed servers do not go beyond peer review, leading to the idea that they are possibly spreading “bad scientific work.”
During this epidemic, some well-known journals reduced their submission period. At the same time, some less-known journals are attracting more papers whose authors want them to be published faster. This might be because their reviewing processes are not very strict.
Should fast publication of research be a priority? Or should researchers look for quality research publication as before? We think the answer is that quick exchange of research can be a good thing – but not if it happens at the expense of quality.
Speed at the expense of quality?
There are many reasons why the speed of publication should not take precedence over research quality. This applies to both pre-prints and journals.
There should definitely be enough time for proper review. This is at the heart of scientific publication and is the best way to achieve “good scientific work”. In addition, while “bad scientific work” can be harmful at any time, it can have particularly severe consequences during epidemics. False and misleading results can have a direct impact on human health.
You should definitely make sure that you submit your article to a credible journal with a proper peer review process. If you are planning to submit your article to a pre-print server, you still need to make sure that your work is carefully reviewed by yourself and those who helped you write the article.
Things You Should Not Do
It is understandable that you want to publish your work as soon as possible. But you have to make sure that it does not adversely affect the quality of your work. So what should you do?
Do Not Hurry
Typically, good scientists spend months or years presenting their ideas before conducting research and putting their findings in an article. Today, some researchers try to present an article in a few days. In such cases, the focus is solely on the goal rather than the scientific process.
Most researchers are looking for an exciting result that has news value and ignore science in the process. Problems with the research method, such as the small size of the sample and the selective reporting of results, can also occur when the researchers are rushing to present their research.
Do Not Forget to Be Transparent
As with all papers, transparency is important in scientific publications. You need to make sure that everyone who reads your article has all the information they need to be able to evaluate the work. Fast publication cannot be an excuse to remove critical information. If you do this when submitting your article to a reputable journal for fast publication, it will definitely be rejected. However, if you have a large amount of data, you can make it available in a database.
Avoid Mistakes in Research Methods
Researchers working on COVID-19 generally have very specific goals. For example, they want to know if a particular treatment can be effective or how many people in a particular population have the disease. Since these questions are of particular importance to human health, it is attempted to choose the method that gives the fastest results, not the healthiest method from a scientific point of view. For example, regarding sample size, a small-scale study may seem surprisingly successful, it should be made clear that its impact will be limited.
Avoid Bad Statistics
During the COVID-19 epidemic, there are many questions in people’s minds that are often summed up in: How bad can it be? What is the risk of getting this disease? What is the risk of me dying?
Statistics can potentially answer such questions (though not with the certainty that is reported in the media). However, scientists should avoid the tendency to use misleading statistics, such as giving a positive result or a result that is likely to attract attention. As always, be clear in your report about the statistical analysis you have done and its applications.
Do Not Be Afraid to Improve Your Work
Finally, keep in mind that an article that is published fast is more likely to contain errors. In pre-printed servers, errors can be easily corrected by deleting articles and replacing them with revised versions. These corrections can even increase your chances of having your article published later in a reputable journal.
What About Journals?
It is interesting to note that pre-press servers are only a small part of this problem. Researchers have found that about 80% of the countless articles about Covid-19 that have been presented in recent months have been published in journals.
Researchers are not the only ones to blame for the problems of fast publication. Journals should be blamed as well. For example, currently, journals use a rapid peer-review process. While this can be a good thing, journals need to make sure that their usual reviewing standards are not compromised because of faster publication of articles. Journals editors should also adhere to their usual standards and continue to follow their guidelines.
To what extent have you seen an increase in the publication of articles since the beginning of this epidemic? How important do you think the speed of publication is? Please share your comments with us in the suggestions section below.