Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Guideline 15

Publication medium

Authors select the publication medium carefully, with due regard for its quality and visibility in the relevant field of discourse. Researchers who assume the role of editor carefully select where they will carry out this activity. The scientific/academic quality of a contribution does not depend on the medium in which it is published.


In addition to publication in books and journals, authors may also consider academic repositories, data and software repositories, and blogs. A new or unknown publication medium is evaluated to assess its seriousness.

A key criterion to selecting a publication medium is whether it has established guidelines on good research practice.

Publication media in the life sciences

In the life sciences, results are often published in specialist journals and there is a peer review process for this purpose. Prompt availability and open access to published content is vital to scientific progress in the life sciences: this helps ensure that the current state of knowledge is as visible as possible and can provide the basis for new project ideas. In the course of the digital transformation, classic publication of experiments and conclusions has been supplemented with the publication of data sets and software packages. In fields with an IT or technical orientation, publications can also be made in connection with peer-reviewed conferences and workshops. Pre-registration is recommended for confirmatory research, e.g. clinical trials. There is now increasing use of the recently emerged opportunities to publish results on preprint servers; however, quality assurance processes are still lacking here, so this type of publication cannot yet be equated with those requiring a peer review process. The advantage here is that research findings can be made available more quickly than before. Due to the highly dynamic nature of digital publishing outlets, there is a particular responsibility to thoroughly check the reputability of media and platforms. One important point of reference is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which lists academic journals that offer rigorous quality control.

Forms of communication such as blogs or social media are increasingly used by researchers to communicate their own findings to a wider public or within working groups. These are generally not suited to publishing complex research results, as the abridged form of presentation and high level of communication density tend to stand in the way of a comprehensive and sufficiently detailed description of findings. On the other hand, such channels do offer the opportunity to reach target groups that extend beyond the world of academia. Researchers are expected to be open to new media but be sure to adopt a responsible approach.

Peer review of results prior to publication is crucial in terms of quality assurance as exercised by the academic community itself: only if this is carried out conscientiously and taking sufficient time will it be possible to ensure that the published content is valid and described with sufficient rigour to enable the findings to be used as a basis for further work. This review and discourse process is time-consuming, and it deserves appreciation and recognition.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL15 (Life sciences)