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Preprint highlights – selected by the scientific community, supported by The Company of Biologists

We hope you’re reading this page because you’re considering joining our team of preprint selectors.

Below you can find more information about what’s involved, but if you have further questions, please get in touch at preprints@biologists.com, completely informally and without committing yourself.

Just a note: we’re happy for you to talk to friends and colleagues as you consider joining the team – and we hope you’ll be as excited about the plans as we are – but we ask you not to post or tweet anything publicly about our new service until it’s launched.

Joining the team

We’re building a team of early-career researchers who will together provide a meaningful community resource – selecting and discussing interesting preprints.

We’re open to a range of ‘early-career’ stages from PhD student to early PI.

You might already highlight interesting preprints through Twitter or cover them in department journal clubs. But what you absolutely need is an interest in assessing the most noteworthy research in your area – which is what you do already, right?

How much work is involved?

We would ask you to select around one interesting preprint each month, and to give your personal opinion on why you find that preprint interesting and/or important.

We want each post to be short and succinct so that it appeals to the busy reader.

We will provide guidance but we want the style of the posts to be your own.

Below we outline what a post could look like.

What could the posts look like?

Title and authors of the preprint [link to the preprint]

Very short visible summary – click to read more
The point of the summary is to give your personal opinion on why you find the preprint interesting. It will essentially be the punchline (but putting it first to grab the reader’s attention rather than leaving it to the end as a summary).

Identity of selector – this will link to your profile.

You may then choose to continue with some or all of the following (but noting these are optional and we want to keep the post succinct)…

How this work fits the bigger picture / moves the field forwards

Any questions the work raises
‘If you could ask the author one question, what would it be?’
Also where you have potential concerns or criticisms of the work, you may feel more comfortable presenting these as questions for the community to consider.

Optional visual item
You may sometimes want to add an image/movie from the preprint or use a pull-out quote to highlight something visually for the reader.

Related research
You may want to mention other significant related papers or preprints (but this is not intended as a comprehensive reference list).

We are aiming to highlight preprints posted in the past month so still unpublished.

When does it start?

We are building the site now. We are making lots of exciting decisions about what to name the service and what it should look like – if you want to, we would love you to get involved at this early stage.

The real work starts in January! You would make your first selection from the preprints posted in January and write a post on why it interests you. We would be happy to provide support and feedback if needed as part of your training.

We’ll also ask you to complete a profile page so that we can promote you as one of our selection team.

When the team has selected and commented on a reasonable number of 2018 preprints, we will launch the service to readers – we hope this will be early February.

What’s in it for me?

We’re keen to give our selectors a ‘voice’ by raising their profile as someone trusted to select and comment.

We can offer letters of recommendation and hope to be able to support you in other ways too.

Contributing as one of our selectors can help build your personal network.

We’re hoping the workload isn’t daunting because it’s based on what you’re doing already – scanning for new, interesting research in your area.

And we plan to feature some highlights from guest selectors who are senior scientists, so you’ll be in good company!

Why the interest in preprints?

Preprints are slowly but surely emerging in the life sciences. While only 1–2% of papers are currently posted as preprints before publication, we believe this will grow very significantly and that preprints will become an important element in the communication of life science research.

Our journals have developed preprint-friendly policies including a portal that allows simultaneous submission to our journals and bioRxiv.

And one of the most popular posts on the Node (the community site for developmental biologists hosted by Development) is their monthly round-up of preprints in the field – take a look.

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