ASAPbio newsletter volume 31 

#PreprintsinthePublicEye event, Join #ASAPpdb pledge, #PreprintSprint award winners and more

Join the #PreprintsInThePublicEye: Challenges and Solutions in an Age of Misinformation Event

Help us improve how research is reported in the media.

On January 14, 2021, ASAPbio will be hosting an online event bringing together a range of expertise to highlight issues around the media reporting of research. There will be a special focus on preprints and on the positive steps that can improve how research is reported in the media to avoid its misrepresentation and misuse. Participants will include representatives from preprint servers and academic institutions as well as science writers and journalists.

For the first time, the event will include a live experiment on reporting research to a format using Twitter, and there will be an update on ASAPbio’s own Preprints in the Public Eye project funded by Open Society Foundations. You can provide feedback on that project here.

See the program and read more about the January 14 event here.

Register for the event

Join #ASAPpdb pledge to release PDB files with preprints

Structural biologists have a long culture of data sharing and the datasets hosted at the Protein Data Bank (PDB) have been invaluable to biological research and the understanding of health and disease. Preprints allow rapid sharing of research findings, however, progress towards scientific discovery is hindered when the PDB files underlying structural biology preprints are not accessible.

The signatories of #ASAPbiopdb commit to publicly releasing their PDB files at the time of the deposition of their preprint. Join #ASAPbiopdb here.

We invite other communities beyond structural biology to support this effort and develop their own call for a commitment for data sharing with preprints in their discipline.

Congratulations to the #PreprintSprint award winners 

During our #PreprintSprint events, we learnt more about initiatives to incentivize preprint curation and feedback. On December 3 we heard updates from each project on how they had developed their proposal in response to feedback, and we were delighted to see the many collaborations that the Sprint has sparked.

Thanks to all of the presenters for insightful presentations and ideas and to all attendees for their feedback, and of course, congratulations to the award winners!

If you attended any of the two events, we would appreciate your feedback about the event via this brief survey.

Missed the sprint? You can find an overview of the projects and the recording of the December 3 event at our sprint recap.

Hats off to the ASAPbio Fellows!

At the end of November we closed our first cycle of the ASAPbio Fellows program. Over the previous six months, a group of 26 participants got together monthly to discuss aspects of preprint use and to share experiences and ideas. The Fellows also worked on dedicated projects, from organizing an online event to developing infographics and much more! We are really grateful to the Fellows for their enthusiasm and contributions, and look forward to seeing what they achieve next.

Read more about the Fellows and their many accomplishments here. We will be running a new cohort of ASAPbio Fellows in 2021, so stay tuned for updates about the next cycle.

The long meandering path to clinical preprints

In the latest Clinician's Corner post, ASAPbio Fellow Aleksandra Petelski provides a historical overview of preprints, from the 1960s to today; although it has taken a while for clinical preprints to take off, adoption is increasing and the landscape for clinical preprints looks very different now compared to just a few years ago.

Meet the ASAPbio Fellows
Over the last months, we have featured the participants in the ASAPbio Fellows program, we wrap up the series with the last set of Fellow profiles. More about the ASAPbio Fellows program here.

Pablo Ranea Robles

Tell us a bit about your line of research

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. I’m fascinated by how organisms adapt to different nutritional environments. My project is focused on the study of lipid metabolism inside the cell. By using cellular and animal models, I’m studying the role of the peroxisome in lipid metabolism. Peroxisomes are compartments inside the cell with many functions but that we don’t completely understand yet. 

What are you excited about in science communication?

I’m excited about making scientific knowledge open to everyone. Research and scientists’ salaries are majoritarily funded with public money coming from the taxes we all pay. However, the current journal system that we all use to disseminate knowledge is obsolete and makes science available only to a selected group of people who can afford it. This is unfair and needs to change now. Preprints in biology have been a milestone in the advance toward making science open to everyone, and I cannot wait to see how science communication evolves in the next few years. 

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I have been part of the ASAPbio Community for two years. This new Fellows program is exciting and has gathered an incredible group of very talented people that share the same values about open science. I could not miss the opportunity to join them and learn more about this topic.

Ask me about…

Politics, basketball, Granada, IPA beers, or how to make a delicious salmorejo (typical tomato cream from the south of Spain).

Ana Dorrego-Rivas

What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research

I’m currently finishing my PhD in Neurosciences at the Planar Polarity and Plasticity lab at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux, France. My work is focused on how planar cell polarity proteins modulate neuronal polarity and axonal function. For that, I use in vitro (cultured neurons) and in vivo (transgenic mice) models, together with a wide selection of techniques like immunofluorescence, super resolution imaging and molecular biology. I find the subject particularly interesting, as we know some of these proteins are involved in pathologies like epilepsy or autism. Knowing their basic roles in neuron and brain development is key to understand the onset and mechanisms of those conditions.

What are you excited about in science communication?

Communicating science is not only exciting, but a responsibility from researchers. I like to discuss my work with scientists – through posters or talks- but also with the lay public, in order to approach them to what we do in the lab. In the “post-truth” and “fake news” era, science needs to be told rigorously to the society, which has the right of being properly informed of its progress.

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I want to learn how I can contribute to make the scientific publishing system more transparent and efficient. The current process is slow and relies on a “homogeneous” pool of peer-reviewers, which can condition the way science is analysed and perceived. I believe preprints are a solution to communicate scientific discoveries faster prior to publication in a journal. Regarding peer review, I think diversity is essential: this means boosting the inclusion of people from underrepresented groups (women, black, LGBT…) but also early-career researchers. Thanks to the ASAPbio Fellows program, I got to learn loads about the preprints system and the numerous initiatives dedicated to transform peer review.

Ask me about…

Neuronal polarity, open science, basic research, movies (specially the horror ones), books, languages, Twitter and electronic music.

Jonny Coates

What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research

I am currently a postdoc at the William Harvey Research Institute (Queen Mary University of London, UK) in the lab of Mathieu Voisin. My current research focusses on neutrophil responses to ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI), neutrophil subtypes, T-cells and a heavy dose of microscopy. I also have independent interests in meta-research (how we do science), open-access and early career researcher (ECR) development and training. I also try to promote a healthier working environment for researchers. I’m very lucky to be able to combine my (sometimes very varied) interests in my current projects and to push myself forward learning new things.

What are you excited about in science communication?

The newer generation of scientists are the breath of fresh air that science is really in need of. We’re seeing a much greater focus on accessibility, inclusion and fairness. I strongly believe that science should be accessible and open to all and that part of my job as a scientist is to promote and encourage these practices. There has been a shift in recent years in terms of the general public taking a much greater interest in science and this is hugely exciting; though we need to ensure that we answer that interest with accessible and responsible communication. Most of all, I’m excited to share that wonderful feeling of discovering something new and getting to share that with the world.

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I wanted to get a deeper understanding of the open-science landscape and how I can best promote these values in my career and with colleagues. Having developed collaborations and worked with like-minded scientists as part of my work with preLights, I was excited to dive into doing something similar but at a bigger scale.

Ask me about…

I like to think I slightly buck the trend of “stereotypical” scientist. I love adrenaline-fueled adventures (skydiving, or my latest plan – a wingwalk), I currently seem to be collecting guitars (5 and counting) and will be getting another 3 tattoos in the coming months. If you want to talk about trials and tribulations of an academic career and how I think we can fix this then I’m your guy. I also love dogs, so if you want to talk about anything that involves pictures of cute dogs you have my full attention!

Tara Fischer

What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of autophagy as an intracellular route for pathogen defense and innate immunity. My current project aims to understand how activation of the STING pathway induces a unique form of lipidation that may mediate cell autonomous antiviral defense.

What are you excited about in science communication?

I am very excited about the progress we are making as a scientific community to achieve open access to our research world-wide. With this, I am also excited about the ongoing critical examination of the publication system and whether the current processes we use to disseminate our research are still effective in modern day for scientific progress. There are many initiatives now asking important questions and actually innovating feasible solutions to improve the way we share our research, such as through preprinting and open and collaborative peer review. As an early career researcher, this mass movement we are currently seeing very much encourages me that we will soon break through some critical barriers and achieve a more fair and open system for scientific communication.

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

ASAPbio is one of the organizations that is making real progress in preprinting as a solution to the barriers of open access and timeliness in our current publication process. I was interested in joining the Fellows program to learn more about preprinting and be a part of a community that is actively working towards resolving systemic issues that are impeding scientific progress. I have already learned more about how the current publication system works, how preprinting can improve scientific communication, and how I can help to affect change and adoption of preprints at the local level. I am happy to now be a part of such an enthusiastic, thoughtful community dedicated to open science through the Fellows program.

Ask me about…

Cell biology, microscopes, philosophy, in general, and philosophy of science, continual progress in society and science, coffee beans, all types of music.

Giri Athrey

What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research.

I am an Assistant Professor of Avian Genomics at Texas A&M University, USA. My research is guided by my personal belief of using science for the greater good. The research in our lab focuses on fundamental biological phenomena that also have relevance for society (animal agriculture, conservation, disease). We use a mix of experimental work, genomics approaches, and bioinformatics in our work. Current major focus areas are genome architecture of chicken, and microbiota assembly and regulation in birds. 

What are you excited about in science communication?

I remember the role of great science books and articles in inspiring me to become a scientist, and I am most excited about helping others find and love science as I do. But today, science communication has an important role to play in ensuring a stable and sane society. The COVID crisis has exposed the chasm that exists between scientists and the public’s understanding of even the most basic scientific facts. I am motivated by the challenge of working harder to help close the gap. 

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I have found some of the most exciting new discoveries in preprints, but I have also run into academics who dismiss preprints. I have seen enough preprints that went on to get published that I am certain that preprints make science communication and dissemination stronger, and doesn’t undermine confidence in it. I chose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program to get the pulse on how people at different institutions and career stages perceive preprints, and what the challenges are to wider acceptance of preprints. I hope to take away some strategies on improve current peer review and publishing practices. 

Ask me about… 

Birds. I am a lifelong birder (a.k.a birdwatcher), and birds drove my initial interest in science. Now as a professional avian geneticist, I don’t need to make excuses to go out and watch birds. 

News roundup

'Peer Review: Implementing a "publish, then review" model of publishing' - eLife announced that from July 2021, it will only review submissions that have an associated preprint.

'Caveat emptor: preprint servers in biomedical science' - David Kent discusses preprints and calls for the research community to act responsibly in how they share and promote preprint content.

Applications to NISO Plus 2021 Scholarships are open until December 21.

Copyright © 2020 ASAPbio, Execept where noted, content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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