Preprints, Puppets, and Press Releases

More "science by press release," with news outlets playing right along

Two companies have used preprints in two different ways to promote themselves this week.

In the first case, Bioxytran has posted a preprint on ResearchGate claiming success with a topical treatment for shingles. The headline of the press release shows how the meaning of “preprint” has been appropriated away from its original purpose — private, pre-submission sharing among a close circle of experts of a draft that would be upgraded through private comments and feedback — and transformed into something conveying “early access” or “breaking news”:

Bioxytran Announces Preprint of Shingles Case Study Showing Clearance Using a Topical Galectin-3 Antagonist

The contact listed on the press release is the company’s investor relations person, making clear the purpose of the preprint announcement.

In the second case, the company Colossal Biosciences has received coverage in Nature and Wired not for posting a preprint, but on the possibility of posting a preprint, with the reporting in Nature saying the preprint “will soon appear on the server bioRxiv.”