Saiba Mais: O que é pré-publicação?

A pesquisa científica leva muito tempo: experimentos são realizados, ensaios clínicos são executados e os dados gerados precisam ser analisados ​​e compreendidos antes de serem publicados. Juntos, esse processo não acontece rapidamente. Embora as pessoas possam não perceber, uma etapa que leva muito tempo entre a geração de dados e a publicação de um artigo é o próprio processo de publicação.

A publicação de um artigo científico pode levar de alguns meses a anos. Se analisarmos as estatísticas de 2018 para a revista PLOS ONE, por exemplo, veremos que o tempo médio que levou um artigo para passar pelo processo de publicação foi de 6 meses. Isso significa que metade dos documentos levou menos de 6 meses para ser processada, enquanto a outra metade levou mais tempo. Além disso, muitas vezes são necessárias várias submissões para diferentes periódicos antes que um artigo seja aceito, e as equipes de pesquisadores podem enviar um artigo apenas para um periódico por vez. Considerando tudo isso, não é surpresa que o processo de publicação de um artigo científico possa levar uma quantidade substancial de tempo.

Illustration of a scientist working at a laptop computer, sharing ideas with colleagues
Um cientista trabalhando na redação de um artigo científico. Imagem cortesia de Piqsels.

No entanto, existem muitas coisas importantes que acontecem durante esse processo: os manuscritos são examinados por um editor, os especialistas apropriados na área são solicitados a executar a revisão por pares e as revisões são enviadas ao editor. Esse editor toma uma decisão sobre como avançar (geralmente pedindo aos autores que atualizem seus trabalhos para atender às solicitações dos revisores). Os artigos podem ser rejeitados em qualquer um desses estágios, e esse processo pode ocorrer duas ou três vezes em qualquer periódico antes que seja tomada uma decisão final de aceitação ou rejeição.

Devido ao tempo que leva esse processo, há um atraso na obtenção dos resultados de um estudo para outros cientistas – informações que podem influenciar drasticamente os experimentos que estão sendo realizados em laboratórios de pesquisa no momento. Felizmente, é aqui que entram as pré-publicações.

Preprints (pré-publicações) são rascunhos finais de artigos que as equipes de pesquisa compartilham em servidores públicos antes / quando iniciam o processo de publicação. Isso significa que outros pesquisadores podem ver os rascunhos dos manuscritos muito antes da publicação do artigo “oficial”. Um dos sites mais populares para pré-publicações inéditas nas ciências da vida é o bioRxiv, que em março de 2020, já tinha mais de 77.000 documentos de pré-publicações enviados para seus servidores.

Quais são os benefícios dos artigos pré-publicados?

Um dos principais benefícios das pré-publicações é a rápida disseminação de informações. Em vez do atraso de meses ou anos para compartilhar artigos, a comunidade científica pode ler as publicações para aprender sobre algumas das mais recentes descobertas no campo.

Os autores também se beneficiam do upload de uma pré-publicações, pois ela atua como um carimbo de data e hora para quando eles revelaram seus resultados. Estabelecer uma prioridade dos resultados da pesquisa pode ser importante para os autores devido à natureza competitiva da ciência. Da mesma forma, devido à natureza colaborativa da ciência, vários grupos de pesquisa diferentes podem optar por fazer o upload de pré-publicações com resultados semelhantes ao mesmo tempo para garantir que a prioridade não seja atribuída a um estudo enquanto os outros estudos são realizados no processo de publicação. Também é muito mais fácil para os pesquisadores compartilhar informações sobre “dados negativos” por meio de pré-publicações, bem como estudos de replicação. Dados negativos são os resultados que você obtém quando um experimento revela que sua previsão inicial – conhecida como sua “hipótese” – provavelmente está incorreta. Os estudos de replicação são repetições de experimentos que foram publicados anteriormente por outros grupos e servem para verificar novamente se o trabalho desses grupos foi realizado corretamente. Embora estudos de replicação e dados negativos sejam muito importantes para o processo científico, pode ser difícil publicá-los, pois alguns periódicos não veem esses estudos como novos ou interessantes. As pré-publicações são uma alternativa para compartilhar essas informações.

Ainda precisamos de publicações tradicionais?

Apesar do longo tempo necessário, a publicação tradicional sempre terá uma vantagem sobre as pré-publicações: a revisão por pares. A revisão por pares pode detectar pequenos erros e melhorar a qualidade geral dos trabalhos de várias maneiras, inclusive sugerindo experimentos adicionais e / ou alterações no estilo de escrita. Em casos raros em que fraude ou plágio ocorre, a revisão por pares também pode impedir a publicação de tais estudos.

Essa diferença entre pré-publicações e artigos publicados foi recentemente destacada pelo bioRxiv. Durante a pandemia do COVID-19, o bioRxiv publicou a seguinte declaração:

“O bioRxiv está recebendo muitos novos artigos sobre o coronavírus 2019-nCoV. Um lembrete: esses são relatórios preliminares que não foram revisados ​​por pares. Eles não devem ser considerados conclusivos, orientar a prática clínica / comportamento relacionado à saúde ou ser reportados na mídia como informação estabelecida.”

Esta declaração é uma resposta a alguns meios de comunicação que não compreendem completamente a diferença entre pré-publicações e artigos publicados. Como o bioRxiv diz, eles são diferentes e não devem ser tratados da mesma forma.

Isso não significa, porém, que não possamos confiar nas informações que encontramos nos documentos de pré-publicações – apenas significa que precisamos analisar criticamente as informações. Ao ler as pré-publicações, é importante entender que elas são uma prévia de um trabalho em andamento, não o produto final.

Se você quiser saber mais sobre as pré-publicações, dê uma olhada neste artigo da Science Magazine, neste vídeo da iBiology ou nesta definição da bioRxiv.

Saiba Mais escrito por Celeste Suart, editado pela Dra. Hannah Shorrock e traduzido para Português por Guilherme Santos, publicado inicialmente em: 17 de abril de 2020.

Snapshot: What are Preprints?

Scientific research takes a long time: experiments are performed, clinical trials are run, and the data that’s generated has to be analysed and understood before it can be published. Together, this process does not happen quickly. Though people may not realise it, one step that takes a lot of time between generating data and publishing a paper is the publishing process itself.

Publishing a scientific paper can take anywhere from a few months to years. If we look at statistics from 2018 for the journal PLOS ONE, for instance, we see that the median time it took a paper to go through the publication process was 6 months. That means that half of the papers took less than 6 months to process, while the other half took longer. In addition, it often takes multiple submissions to different journals before a paper is accepted, and researcher teams can only submit a paper to one journal at a time. Considering all this, it is no surprise that the process of publishing a scientific article can take a substantial amount of time.

Illustration of a scientist working at a laptop computer, sharing ideas with colleagues
A scientist working on writing a scientific paper. Image courtesy of Piqsels.

However, there are many important things that happen during this process: manuscripts are screened by a journal editor, appropriate experts in the field are asked to perform peer review, and reviews are submitted to the editor. This editor then makes a decision on how to move forward (usually asking the authors to update their work to meet the reviewers’ requests). Papers can be rejected at any of these stages, and this process may occur two or three times at any one journal before a final decision to accept or reject is made.

Due to the time this process takes, there is a delay in getting the results of a study to fellow scientists – information that could drastically influence the experiments being conducted in research laboratories right now. Thankfully, this is where preprints come in.

Preprints are final drafts of papers that research teams share on public servers before/as they start the publication process. This means that other researchers can see the draft manuscripts long before the “official” paper is published. One of the most popular sites for unpublished preprints in the life sciences is bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), which, as of March 2020, has had over 77,000 preprint papers uploaded to its servers.

What are the benefits of preprint papers?

One of the main benefits of preprints is the rapid spread of information. Instead of the months- or years-long delay to share papers, the scientific community can read preprints to learn about some of the latest findings in the field.

The authors also benefit from uploading a preprint because it acts as a time stamp for when they revealed their results. Establishing a priority of research findings can be important to authors because of the competitive nature of science. Likewise, because of the collaborative nature of science, multiple different research groups may choose to upload preprints on similar results at the same time to ensure priority is not assigned to one study while the other studies are held up in the publishing process.

It is also much easier for researchers to share information on “negative data” through preprints, as well as replication studies. Negative data are the results you get when an experiment reveals that your initial prediction – known as your “hypothesis” – is likely incorrect. Replication studies are repeats of experiments that have previously been published by other groups, and they serve to double-check that the work of those groups was done correctly. Although replication studies and negative data are very important to the scientific process, it can be hard to publish these studies, as some journals do not view such studies as new or interesting. Preprints are an alternative to share this information.

Do we still need traditional publishing?

Despite the extensive time it takes, traditional publishing will always have one advantage over preprints: peer review. Peer review can catch little mistakes and improve the overall quality of papers in many ways, including suggesting additional experiments and/or alterations to the writing style. In rare cases where fraud or plagiarism occurs, peer review can also prevent the publication of such studies.

This difference between preprints and published papers has recently been highlighted by bioRxiv. During the COVID-19 pandemic, bioRxiv published the following statement:

“bioRxiv is receiving many new papers on coronavirus 2019-nCoV. A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information”

This statement is a response to some media outlets not completely understanding the difference between preprints and published papers. As bioRxiv says, they are different and should not be treated the same.

This does not mean, though, that we cannot trust the information we find in preprint papers – it just means that we need to critically analyse the information in preprints. When reading preprints, it is important to understand that they are a preview of a work in progress, not the final product.

If you would like to learn more about preprints, take a look at this article by Science Magazine, this video by iBiology, or this definition by bioRxiv.

Snapshot written by Celeste Suart and edited by Dr. Hannah Shorrock.

Snapshot: What is drug repurposing?

To repurpose drugs is to find new ways that they can be applied to treat other conditions and illnesses. Although our knowledge of diseases is greater than ever before, the development of novel therapies has yet to catch up. Drug development is slow, expensive and risky. These challenges have made drug repurposing a more attractive option in recent years. Drug repurposing can be quicker, more cost-effective, and less risky than traditional drug development strategies since the bulk of the work is already done. There are many ways to find new uses for old drugs. The process starts with finding evidence that a drug has useful effects, or new targets, outside of its current clinical use. Then the new mechanism is studied and tested. The process ends within traditional drug development, in some cases skipping the already completed safety phases, and instead focuses on how well the drug works for its new purpose.

pink medication tablets in a bubble packet
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The barriers to drug repurposing

Despite clear advantages of drug repurposing, there are numerous challenges to this process. The pharmaceutical industry and scientific community tend to focus on new and innovative therapies. While new drugs are certainly needed, an unintended consequence is overlooking many valuable drugs that already exist. Unfortunately, drug repurposing is not as lucrative as new drug development which particularly hurts rare disorders like SCA. With old drugs, patent protection and legal hurdles are also barriers hindering alternative use. And while drug repurposing is financially less risky, there always exists the possibility that a drug will fail somewhere in development. Finally, it is also important to keep in mind that not all drugs can be repurposed. Even if two disorders are similar, this does not mean that similar drugs can be used to treat them both.

Drug repurposing in practice

It is noteworthy that in addition to old drugs, drugs that have previously failed in treating one condition can be considered when developing treatments for other disorders. A notable example is the drug thalidomide, which infamously led to birth defects but has now been repurposed to treat certain blood cancers (Singhal et al., 1999) and leprosy (Teo et al., 2002). There are also several notable recent examples of drug repurposing in SCA. One example is the proposed repurposing of the drug 4-aminopyridine, or 4-AP. This drug, which is also used to treat multiple sclerosis, has been shown to aid with motor symptoms in a mouse model of SCA6. Hopefully, we will see more drugs repurposed to treat SCA and other rare disorders in the near future.

If you would like to learn more about drug repurposing, take a look at our past SCAsource article on drug repurposing in SCA6 or this resource by Findacure.

Snapshot written by Carlos Barba and edited by Dr. David Bushart.

Continue reading “Snapshot: What is drug repurposing?”

Last chance to participate in our reader feedback survey!

Our reader feedback survey closes on Monday, December 2 at 7:00AM. If you haven’t had the chance yet to give your feedback, you can read more information about the survey study here and access the online survey at this link.

Thank you in advance, your feedback is invaluable! And thank you to all who have already filled out the survey. We are excited to use this data to help make SCAsource the best it can be.

a survey lays over top of a notebook and laptop computer.
An image representing survey results. Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

1 Year Anniversary of SCAsource!

SCAsource launched one year ago today on September 27, 2018. In that time we’ve had over 18,000 views and published over 40 articles. Now we are launching a survey about the website to make sure we are meeting our goals.

SCAsource is turning a year old! A huge thank you to all our volunteer writers, editors, and proofreaders who help make the content that gets posted every week. We couldn’t do this without them. Also a big thank you to all who read and share SCAsource content. You all are the reason we made SCAsource in the first place.

Here at SCAsource, we are so excited with how we have grown in these first twelve months, and can’t wait to see where we go from here. To get a better idea of if we are meeting our goals and how we can improve, we are launching a survey about SCAsource.

SCAsource reader survey logo, which is a clipboard that has a box with the checkmark in it
Introducing the SCAsource reader survey!

What is the SCAsource Reader Survey?

This study will look at the impact of SCAsource on its readers and their knowledge of research being conducted on spinocerebellar ataxias. For this study, you are invited to complete a brief online survey that will take about 20 minutes to complete.

Why are you doing a survey?

We want to check if SCAsource is achieving its goal of making ataxia research more accessible and understandable to readers. We will use this survey data to help improve future SCAsource content. Also, we hope by studying SCAsource, that we can provide a framework that other rare disease groups can use to launch their own websites.

Additionally, we want to use this data to show the impact SCAsource to potential sponsors and funders. We want to secure funding to cover the costs of keeping the SCAsource website online.

Are there any risks? Can I withdraw part of the way through the survey?

The risks involved in participating in this study are minimal. You do not need to answer questions that make you uncomfortable. If you decide to be part of the study, you can stop (withdraw) from the study at any point before submitting your survey responses. Once you have submitted your responses for this anonymous survey, your answers will be put into a database and will not be identifiable to you. This means that once you have submitted your survey, your responses cannot be withdrawn from the study because we will not be able to identify which responses are yours.

Where can I get more information about the SCAsource Reader Survey?

You can read the Study Letter of Information, which gives you the full details about the survey. This study has been reviewed and cleared by the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HiREB).  If you have any concerns or questions about your rights as a participant or about the way the study is being conducted, call the Office of the Chair, HiREB, at 905.521.2100 x 42013.

Where can I fill out the survey?

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration with the SCAsource Reader Survey! You can access the survey online at this link. With your feedback, we look forward to making SCAsource even better!