A cross-institutional Journal Club Initiative
Harnessing cross-institutional journal clubs to assess and review preprints
Repurpose institutional journal clubs to take part in evaluating up-and-coming research on different research fields and preprint servers.
Training ground for research trainees to learn how to critically assess scientific literature.
Improve the scientific legitimacy and reduce the inherent bias of a system constraint around a single institution and promote open science.
Our group meets online once every week to present 2 recent preprints.
We evaluate each preprints using metrics such as Novelty of the study, Significance of the results or Thoroughness of the scientific demonstration.
We write and post reviews of the preprints using a standardized format.
We highlight what we consider the most promising preprints in collaboration with Nature Reviews Immunology
Our Journal Club Hub Blueprint
The Preprint Club is organized in small hubs of 2-4 collaborative institutions. Once a Preprint Club hub has formed, an online schedule is formed with alternate presenters, ideally making sure that presentation slots are evenly distributed. Two presenters are scheduled per week and session. The presenters select a recent preprint of their choice, which is then presented and discussed during the online journal club session (20min + 10 min). Each participant uses a three-category voting system to rank the preprint with a score of 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Preprints are assessed based on their novelty (are the findings novel and original?), their scientific quality (quality of experimental design and data obtained, and how well they support the authors’ conclusions) and their significance (how likely this study is going to impact its research field and immunology in general). After the journal club, presenters are encouraged to take aboard the feedback from the discussion and write up a peer review digest to give feedback to the preprint authors. This feedback is uploaded on the Preprint Club Website and made publicly available. Each month, scores for all presented preprints are collected (~8 preprints/month). Preprints reaching a threshold (in our experience: ~11.5 or higher) are considered for further highlight in a partner journal (in our case: Nature Reviews Immunology). The highlight on the preprint is written together with a faculty member from the partnering institutions to improve the conclusions drawn from the preprint assessment. This system can be applied to many other biomedical research fields in the same way and require only motivated ECRs from different institutions, a partnering journal and an online meeting platform (e.g. Zoom, Teams).
Organizational structure of the Preprint Club. Figure adapted from Richter, Gea-Mallorquí, Ruffin, Vabret (2023) BioRxiv. DOI: 10.1101/2023.01.04.522570. Figure created by biorender.com