Plan for new medical preprint server receives lukewarm response

Science | AAAS | 9/12/2017 | Staff
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Medical researchers are talking about starting an online archive where they could post unreviewed results from clinical trials, such as one that tested this light therapy for cancer patients.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—Medical scientists may get their own place to post unpublished studies. Researchers at Yale University and Yale School of Medicine are preparing to launch a preprint server, called MedArXiv, which would specialize in publishing the results of clinical research.

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But the plan, presented here this morning at the Eighth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication by Yale cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, has received a lukewarm reception. Many in the medical community aren’t sure that posting preprints on the web is such a great idea; the general fear is that such papers might sway clinical practice, or prompt patients to try treatments on their own, before reviewers can vet the findings. “It would be helpful to be sure we don’t do harm,” Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), said after Krumholz had finished his talk.

Physicists have posted their preprints on arXiv for more than 2 decades, and the number of papers on bioRxiv, a repository for the life sciences launched in 2013, is growing exponentially. Krumholz argued that it’s time for the medical community to hop on the bandwagon; it would speed up research, he said. And data from clinical studies already get out before they’re published, for instance in press releases and at medical meetings, Krumholz said; why not make the full results public?

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Although bioRxiv accepts certain clinical papers, Krumholz says MedArXiv would give medical researchers their own repository. “I’m not sure the...
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