In October, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sought input regarding the inclusion of preprints and other interim research products, such as protocols and large datasets, in grant applications and reports as a way to enhance the rigor and impact of research funded by the agency. Following extensive consultation with its member societies, FASEB submitted comments that highlighted five key concerns regarding the inclusion of these materials in NIH grant applications and reports:
- The lack of a clear definition of “preprint” and a method for distinguishing work that has undergone some form of peer review
- The risk of an increased workload and burden for study section reviewers
- Negative effects on rigor and reproducibility of research in the absence of peer review
- Challenges of balancing application criteria to ensure sound science while supporting early career investigators
- The need to provide stakeholders with ample time to accommodate potential changes in application policies.
FASEB concluded that until NIH can provide a clear definition of preprints and the criteria for their inclusion in grant applications, ensure that they will not excessively increase reviewer workload, and that they enhance—rather than detract—from rigor and reproducibility of research activities, the agency should not change its application policy regarding citation of these products.