Rapid Science Open: a venue to post preprints and peer-reviewed publications

Biomedical research information can take years to trickle to doctors and patients… Meanwhile, researchers don’t have access to comprehensive and timely information from the clinic. Opportunities are being missed to understand, diagnose and treat diseases more precisely.1

— CEO, Gates Foundation (former UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann)

The rapid publishing concept will be launched with the journal Rapid Science Open, an open access channel for rapid communication of incremental findings, including null and partial results, and observations. RS Open extends from the closed portion of the Rapid Science platform as an open venue that accommodates preprints and peer review for formal publication. When research findings are considered pertinent to the latest published literature they are cited in the group’s continually updated Evidence Review, which is posted regularly in RS Open. Discussion continues in the open space and insights from the field and clinic are cycled back to the research team. On the basis of  feedback and new findings, results can be updated or reused, reinterpreted, and repositioned at any point in the cycle.

Three primary, peer-reviewed content types distinguish this journal. First, the continually updated Evidence Reviews drawn from analyses of aggregated datasets, the published literature, case reports, trial results, etc. – written and maintained by a subject expert on the RS staff (see published examples for melanoma, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, prepared by our editorial boards at Cancer Commons).

Second, Cases Central – a clearinghouse of peer-reviewed, patient-level data including case reports, N of 1 studies, and clinical trial briefs – submitted via templates with a focus on diagnostic data (omics), treatments, and outcomes data.

Third, supporting, incremental evidence such as single experiments and data analyses will be given context and cited in the Evidence Reviews, and posted in RS Open as adjunct micropublications.  

Collaborative Research

1. From a report prepared by the National Academy of Sciences – Toward Precision Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease – describing an institutionally ingrained lag in the timely adoption of useful and life-saving discoveries in the clinic.

Aims and Scope

Submission types and formats

  • Evidence Reviews covering topics (large or small) that reflect a community’s research activity, continually updated with contributor attributions (example 1, example 2)
  • Original research findings in the form of micropublications (i.e., discrete units of work annotated to provide context for the Reviews; example); can also be in poster format
  • Clinical case reports, including N of 1 studies (example
  • Clinical trials briefs, including negative trials and patient-level data (example)
  • Clinical annotations of genetic variants (example)
  • Hypotheses and thought experiments (example0

Collaborative discovery

  • When patient data is being reported, follow HIPAA regulations and provide simple templates for reporting treatments and outcomes data in standardized formats
  • Facilitate “organic” peer review – i.e., group discussion and responsive iteration of new findings
  • Ensure researchers are notified of relevant and critical findings that have been posted
  • Prepare state-of-the-art knowledge Evidence Reviews to provide context for research team’s findings and discussions
  • Promote team findings by citing them in Evidence Reviews
  • Support a formal rapid mechanism for updating Evidence Reviews as warranted by new findings and discussions

Rapid, open dissemination of validated research

  • Deploy a streamlined, peer-review process that significantly shortens the time from submission to acceptance – by  employing the expertise of multidisciplinary researchers engaged on the rapid learning platform
  • Publish articles immediately upon acceptance following positive peer review
  • Offer provenance to work completed, as a means of minimizing the threat of work-in-progress being scooped by competitors
  • Provide a forum where all scientific results judged as sound within the stated scope of this journal will be published
  • Emphasize what elements of published research are actionable for patients and physicians, mindful of the variation in what individuals perceive as actionable
  • Acknowledge the fungible nature of published results and interpretations, and provide the means to revise and track revisions
  • Include expert lay persons as peer reviewers and define their role in judging evidence

Share ongoing research findings in a public venue

  • Provide continually updated, state-of-the-art knowledge from the published literature as challenged or supported by the latest findings from collaborative groups
  • Provide a repository for preprints and  peer-reviewed publications, enabling rapid transmission from closed to open discussion
  • Encourage short-form work in progress including single findings, negative results, observations, replications, and methods

All content is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License, enabling unrestricted distribution and use of the published materials, provided that its authors are properly credited.