August 18, 2020

Fighting Misinformation: The Preprint Sifter

Helping you get straight to the evidence.

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

In this pandemic, scientists around the world share preliminary information quickly and openly with each other by posting “preprints” online. Preprints are research papers that have not been reviewed by other experts yet but enable a speedy exchange of initial findings and observations amidst great uncertainty, and contribute to the generation of better evidence.  The downside: Because they may still contain errors, are easy to quote out of context, misunderstand or misinterpret, preprints have become a major source of misinformation and confusion, and are abused by those hoping to stir chaos, peddle their products and businesses, or drive towards false messages for political gain. 

Amplifying the Experts

In response, Twitter has emerged as a great tool for experts to discuss, assess and evaluate the studies, methods and findings that are posted in preprints.   

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. 

We created the Preprint Sifter to enable all of us to look at preprints the way experts do. We hope you find it helpful.

The Breakdown

Sign up for the weekly newsletter from the team behind the Preprint Sifter that gives you a curated summary of the key conversations on the preprints posted throughout the week. We put together a list of the week’s most notable preprint papers and highlight the expert analysis worth paying attention to.