The Reliability of COVID Preprints
In order to analyze the reliability of COVID preprints, researchers at Queen Mary University, London, compared them with non-covid preprints. They identified 184 research papers that were originally published as preprints on bio Rxiv and medRxiv. The researchers compared each preprint with its published version, checking for changes in content and key wording.
Preprints provide researchers with an early means of sharing their findings with the world. NIH data shows that approximately 32% of COVID-19 papers are preprints. In comparison, only 3% of papers in the biomedical literature are preprints. In addition to sharing the work of scientists, preprints also provide the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from reviewers and improve the quality of publications.
One study found that, in less than 10 months after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, more than 30,000 preprints appeared on the bioRxiv and medRxiv servers. Moreover, more than a quarter of the preprints were cited in news articles.
The preprints have also become highly popular on social media. One of the top-ranked Covid preprints had over 10,000 tweets. Interestingly, the least popular non-Covid preprint received just 1,656 tweets. By comparison, eight of the top 10 preprints from the COVID-19 journal were tweeted over 10,500 times. A controversial study linking coronavirus protein to HIV was the fourth most-tweeted Covid preprint.