Change of focus
For this issue, Hot topics has changed focus to highlight the most recent (at the time of printing) research into COVID-19. For the latest COVID-19 papers related to endocrinology, we have provided free access to Bioscientifica’s content collection at www.bioscientifica.com/publishing/covid-19-collection.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, including the supply of and demand for the latest scientific research. This has placed preprint servers such as bioRχiv (www.biorxiv.org) and medRχiv (www.medrxiv.org) in the vanguard, due to their rapid data sharing and open access dissemination. However, as such studies have not undergone peer review, free public and media access to this unvetted information could lead to health scares and the promotion of unproven treatments.
Although scientific papers published via the ‘standard model’ have undergone rigorous peer review, they are not exempt from bias or inaccuracy, and it can take many months from completion of a study to publication of the results. It is clear that rapid data sharing is not only ideally suited to an infectious disease outbreak but essential for developing the strategies needed to end the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the interests of balance, we summarise here the findings of two recent studies: one published in Science and one posted in bioRχiv.
Journals are already adapting to expedite publication of COVID-19 studies, while submissions to preprint servers are so numerous that bioRχiv now carries a cautionary banner, stating that such studies ‘should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behaviour, or be reported in news media as established information’. Whichever way the research is disseminated, early availability of data can help to shape and inform current research, which will be invaluable to the collective research effort.