Misinformation

Preprint Sifter

The Preprint Sifter is a new Twitter tool that tracks down Tweets from leading epidemiologists, virologists, public health and other experts who are posting and reviewing COVID-19 related preprint papers.

Preprints are publications by researchers about preliminary observations and findings that have not yet been reviewed and verified by other scientists (a process called peer-review.)  

The Preprint Sifter makes it simple and easy for anyone to access these sources of expert assessment in real time. By curating authoritative tweets on Twitter, and gathering and publishing curated collections once a week, the Sifter helps journalists, policy makers and the public put individual studies, initial observations and preliminary findings in context, and understand the limitations of and potential errors in preprints.

In this pandemic, preprints have become a key way for scientists around the world to share new information quickly and openly with each other, speeding up the scientific process by enabling them to exchange observations rapidly amidst great uncertainty and need for better evidence. At the same time, preprints have become a source of misinformation and confusion, as their initial findings have been taken out of context and misinterpreted, and as the tool itself has been abused by those hoping to stir chaos and conflict, peddle their products and businesses, or drive towards false messages for political gain.   

The Preprint Sifter was created by a multi-disciplinary team, in collaboration with Journalist’s Resource at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. You can get in touch with us here

We created the Preprint Sifter to enable all of us to look at preprints the way experts do. To share their thinking and process as they assess and vet evidence, so we can all be better informed about where we are in understanding the virus, it’s spread and the various ways in which it makes people sick — and to spot misinformation and attempts to manipulate our understanding of this pandemic. We hope you find it helpful. 

For additional guidance on how to report on preprints visit The Shorenstein Center’s Covering biomedical research preprints amid the coronavirus: 6 things to know

Check out the latest tweets from the Preprint Sifter:

Team

Stefanie Friedhoff

Stefanie Friedhoff is Director of Content and Strategy at the Harvard Global Health Institute and an expert at creating innovative approaches to engage audiences in critical conversations about global health. She has worked as a foreign correspondent, feature writer, editor and photographer on three continents. Her stories have been published in TIME magazine, The Boston Globe, Geo, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and many other publications. From 2006 to 2014, she created and directed a variety of programs at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, including Nieman’s Global Health Reporting Fellowship. A 2001 Nieman Fellow, Friedhoff is also a senior advisor to the Trust for Trauma Journalism and a board member at RiffReporter.

Hong Qu

Hong Qu is an adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School teaching data visualization skills. Prior to joining HKS, Hong was one of the first engineers on YouTube’s startup team building key features such as video sharing, channels and skippable ads. He participated in the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab’s 2019 Assembly program working together with a team of data scientists and civil society leaders to produce AI Blindspot. He was a visiting Nieman fellow at Harvard in 2013. Hong is a graduate of Wesleyan University and UC Berkeley’s School of Information.

Daisy Winner

Daisy Winner is a Program Manager at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) where she oversees the Pandemics, and Misinformation and Health initiatives. In this role, Daisy aims to convene experts and actors across disciplines and geographies to engage in critical conversations and foster collaboration for meaningful solutions. Prior to joining HGHI, Daisy worked at Seed Global Health, where she oversaw a portfolio of projects focused on strengthening medical and nursing education in several sub-Saharan African countries. She also managed the organization’s strategic communications, using storytelling and engagement strategies to advocate for quality healthcare access and to highlight our shared human connection. She holds a BA in Psychology and Global Health from Lesley University.