Pre-publication Communication of Research Results

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Until publication in a peer-reviewed journal, communication of provisional scientific findings beyond participants in the study is typically limited. This practice helps ensure scientific integrity. However, a dilemma arises when a delay in communication of provisional findings has urgent societal repercussions, particularly for conservation, public health, or domestic animal health.

Eleven researchers from the USGS, other U.S. and Canadian governmental agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations suggest that there are five common concerns about directed pre-publication communication.  They argue these concerns largely stem from misperceptions and that none should cause a delay in the communication of time-sensitive provisional findings to appropriate authorities. Instead, they suggest that rapid communication of a provisional discovery could be critical, as in the example involving a potential future discovery of the amphibian fungal pathogen Bsal, which is currently causing salamander die-offs in Europe but has not yet been documented in North America.

 

Adams, M.J., Harris, R.N., Grant, E.H., Gray, M.J., Hopkins, M.C., Iverson, S.A., Likens, R., Mandica, M., Olson, D.H., Shepack, A., Waddle, J.H., 2018, Pre-publication communication of research results: EcoHealth, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-018-1352-3

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