Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more than 1,500 SARS-CoV-2 preprints have been posted on preprint servers. The scientific community has responded by providing mini-reviews or summaries across a multitude of platforms – this commentary is essential for the media, general public and non-specialists to be able to understand and appropriately disseminate good science. These ad-hoc reviews are the only outputs currently keeping pace with the release of new studies. However, it can be difficult for the scientific community and media outlets to track and discover the most important and reliable studies. It is also challenging to place discoveries into the wider context of the key events of the pandemic. Therefore, there is a clear need for a central resource that collates all of these disparate pieces of information together. Critically, the inclusion of lay summaries and contextualised science will enable greater accessibility for non-scientists.
Work at the Sprint
We recently created covidpreprints.com to feature landmark studies along with key global events together on a single timeline, to provide clarity into how global developments of the COVID-19 pandemic tie in with the rapidly expanding preprint literature. We include short digests and references to expert discussions on social media, bringing together essential, accessible information into a single location. Our website also links to expert reviews from organisations and to pages where scientific discussions may have arisen around these preprints. We have recently enabled features for other scientists to suggest or provide commentary to preprints. We intend to expand this capacity moving forward.
With users’ and contributors’ feedback, we hope to gather a “wishlist” of features that could include the following:
- Links to further resources (such as Outbreak Science PREreview) to bring all essential information into one location
- Integrating up-to-date statistics on cases and deaths into covidpreprints.com
- Consolidating links to global consortia on COVID-19 research and data in our website, thus incorporating preliminary data that have not been made available on preprint servers
We are looking for…
Software developers and data scientists to advise us on how to efficiently extract and collate data across different platforms, and user interface designers to help us enhance the interactive capability of our timeline. We would also greatly benefit from in-depth testing by community members, Community Ambassadors, and Community Leaders, and we plan to solicit advice on improving our communication and dissemination strategy to establish our site as a key central resource.