After I published my rebuttal to the Nature anti-preprints article, a scientist in the US wrote to me saying he was on the journal’s side and that he expects preprints to be done away with in the future. It was dispiriting to hear.
But in the last five days, something interesting has been happening in my Twitter notifications section. Many of the article’s readers have been compelled enough to tweet/retweet the link (thank you!), and from these tweets/retweets, it appears as if the article has been slowly but surely snaking its way through audiences around the world. Here’s a summary of how it proceeded based on a subset of the notifications.
Vishu Guttal at the IISc tweeted a link to the article on July 28. On the same day, A.J. Sánchez-Padial from Madrid retweeted the link on the my blog where I’d republished the same article. On July 29, Justin Sègbédji Ahinon from Bénin retweeted the article. Shortly after, Gregor Kalinkat and Pawel Romanczuk retweeted from Berlin and Leonid Schneider from Frankfurt. Kirsten Sandberg from New York and Vicky Hellon from London followed on July 30. Hellon was retweeted by Carlos Blondel in Boston, Michael Markie in London and Nigel Temperton in Kent. Both Hellon and Markie work with the OA publisher F1000. Earlier today, it was favourited by Iryna Kuchma in Ukraine, Marlène Delhaye in Aix-en-Provence and Björn Brembs in Bavaria, and tweeted by @Aisa_OA in Trento.
Watching this journey unfold, and finding out that my views have found agreement in all these countries – esp. Bénin as well as India –, has been very satisfying. The dominating presence of Europe and the absence of East Asia and South America are notable; however, some readers, I suspect from both these regions, who were present in my notifications didn’t mention their location.
That said, obviously those who benefit the most from the existence of preprints are those who confront steep access costs to the scientific literature every day and those who are mindful of its potential to help reform performance evaluation in academia, among various other opportunities. Their probable deleterious effects on science journalism should be of least concern.