May 19, 2022

“Stanford Researchers Discuss the Benefits – and Perils – of Science Without Peer Review”

From Stanford News:

The urgent need for immediate solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic has led biomedical researchers to favor a different form of publishing, called preprints – full articles made publicly available before passing the gauntlet of peer review.

“It’s a great way to get preliminary results out and shared with the wider community, which can encourage collaboration and speed up the science,” said Russ Altman, the Kenneth Fong Professor and professor of bioengineering, of genetics, of medicine and of biomedical data science at Stanford University. “Of course, the negative is that it’s not peer reviewed, so people have to remember that what they’re reading might actually be slightly – or totally – wrong.”


“Let’s assume everybody has the best motives, they’re just being a little big eager. But there’s too much stuff now,” said Altman, who is also associate director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. “We have some ridiculous number of brand-new papers on COVID and nobody can read all that.”

As a result of this inundation, a server Altman has published on many times recently refused a preprint paper from his team. The paper was about potentially repurposing drugs to address the novel coronavirus, and Altman was publishing it with the goal of attracting collaborators. The server administrators told him that they are changing how they screen COVID-19 and novel coronavirus papers, and are unable to assess his computational biology research because it’s outside the bounds of their expertise. Soon after the refusal, Altman successfully published the paper on a different preprint server.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 1100 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.