New open access journal will rapidly review COVID-19 research, debunk false information

A new open access journal run by MIT Press will peer-review research related to COVID-19 in an effort to bring quick and reliable information to the scientific community, the group announced Monday.

The project—known as Rapid Reviews: COVID-19—will analyze preprint data from across the globe and focus on a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, the physical, biological, and chemical sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

Leaders of the endeavor say their review process will take days, compared to the standard month required for typical workflows. Editors of the journal noted that such efforts are important now more than ever, given the vast amounts of misinformation on the pandemic.

“There is an urgent need to validate—or debunk—the rapidly growing volume of COVID-19-related manuscripts on preprint servers,” Stefano M. Bertozzi, editor-in-chief of the journal, said June 29.

Bertozzi, also dean emeritus at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health, and colleagues are working with members of an initiative at the school to create artificial intelligence tools that will help review “hundreds” of preprints each week.

Vilas Dhar, trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, helped bring the project to fruition with a $350,000 grant and sees the project as having a lasting impact on the peer-review process.

“We are confident the RR:C19 journal will quickly become an invaluable resource for researchers, public health officials, and healthcare providers on the frontline of this pandemic,” Dhar said in a statement. “We’re also excited about the potential for a long-term transformation in how we evaluate and share research across all scientific disciplines.”