The Other Shoe Drops

T&F gets Gates to fund yet another preprint server as an extension of that anti-peer-review policy shift

Last Thursday, following on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s anti-peer-review, pro-preprint, anti-paid-work policy shift the previous week, Taylor & Francis announced they are “collaborating” with Gates to develop a “verified preprint” server called VeriXiv — pronounced “very kive” or “vera kive.”

I know. Pull it together. They are apparently serious about this . . .

Having the other shoe drop like this makes it clear a commercial party with a sense of some urgency is along for the ride, and perhaps steering the car. After all, F1000 has not been a resounding success, and word on the street is that T&F overpaid for it, so they may be still chasing a good commercial outcome. Why not partner with Gates in some sort of suicide pact around peer-review? It’s not like anyone at Gates seems to care if peer-review is lost as table stakes for scientific claims.

But to the preprint server, VeriXiv (say it out loud — no laughing). With such a clear and compelling name, certainly the scientific community will flock to the new server. It’s not focused on any particular community, making it certainly even more appealing and relevant.

But back on topic. What’s a “verified preprint,” you ask?

Twenty different ethics and integrity checks will assess a range of issues, including plagiarism, image manipulation, author verification and competing interests. In addition, open research transparency checks will check whether the data is available in an appropriate repository and that methods have been included to support reproducibility. Each preprint will have clear labelling so that readers know the level of verification conducted on the article, and which levels have been passed.

OK, so basic screening, with the ability to still push the preprint even if some of the checks fail. It seems that staff from F1000 will review the preprints. Asked on Twitter/X if failing screening will cause the preprint to be reviewed again after resubmission, the F1000 account replied:

No, F1000 will not review the entire preprint again, but we will check what has been revised and ensure that anything we have asked for has been adjusted/added.

It also appears via the post on Twitter/X that VeriXiv might charge fees to non-Gates researchers. Right now, eLife charges $2,000 to review preprints, setting a price threshold.

The founders of VeriXiv also indicate the preprint server’s scope goes beyond this group: