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Pretty Reliable

A new analysis says that the results of coronavirus-related preprints have been largely reliable, the Economist reports.

It adds that this faster-paced release of data raised some concerns that inaccurate findings would be released, as the studies would not have undergone the vetting process of peer review. However, it says a new analysis appearing in PLOS Biology finds only few changes between preprints and ultimately published papers.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London analyzed preprints from BioRxiv and MedRxiv posted during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and compared them to the version that was eventually published. They found no difference in the number of figures or panels between preprints and papers — a proxy for the amount of work, they say — and few changes to the main conclusions described in their abstracts. In particular, they found that the conclusions of 7.2 percent of non-COVID-19–related and 17.2 percent of COVID-19–related abstracts changed between preprint and publication, but that most don't affect the papers' overall conclusions.

"Ultimately, scientists share preprints because they think the work is ready, not simply to rush it out — the results of our study reflect that," senior author Jonathon Coates from QMUL tells the Economist.

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