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The lure of the preprint: The risks and opportunities of un-peer-reviewed science

  • 04 Oct 2023
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
  • Zoom


  • Registration for the general public.

    SWCC members receive a 50% discount, but must be signed into their account.
  • Registration for active members of the SWCC.

Registration is closed

To share their new research with colleagues, journalists, and policy-makers, many scientists now post their results on preprint servers. It’s also an excellent way to contribute evidence to rapidly evolving stories about issues like climate change, gene editing, or artificial intelligence more quickly and efficiently than is possible through traditional, peer-reviewed journal publishing. For science communicators, preprints offer an opportunity to cover research when it is very fresh. But they also come with risks: Without the safeguards of peer review—and amid growing concerns around scientific fraud, replication, and predatory publishing—how do writers and communicators know what research to trust and what to debunk? How do we describe the uncertainty of preliminary science to public audiences without getting lost in the weeds? 

This hands-on workshop will offer participants the knowledge and skills needed to assess and communicate preprint research effectively and responsibly. The workshop facilitators will draw on their professional experience reporting on preprints and primary research investigating how journalists find, verify, and communicate about these unreviewed studies. Workshop participants will learn the common factors motivating scientists to post preprints; the processes necessary for reporting on these studies with due diligence; the problems and benefits of peer review; and up-to-date data on retractions of preprints vs peer reviewed papers. The facilitators will engage participants in conversations about the risks and benefits of covering preprints, as well as the ethics of doing so outside of crisis contexts. 

Finally, participants will have an opportunity to put their new knowledge into action by evaluating, in small groups, examples of preprint papers. The workshop will end with a question-and-answer period. 

The SWCC is pleased to welcome Alice Fleerackers, PhD Candidate at Simon Fraser University and Sarah Everts, Associate Professor at Carleton University and CTV Chair in Digital Science Journalism as workshop facilitators. This session is hosted by the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada’s (SWCC) Professional Development committee. Registration fees for this event are $15 for members and $30 for non-members. 

Please note that this session will not be recorded, and this content will not be available via the SWCC’s YouTube channel afterwards. We are looking forward to this engaging and practical session and hope to see you there!   

We acknowledge the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for this workshop.


About CIHR

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system. Learn more


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