Disseminating and Sharing Research via Preprints

This is not my first post on preprints and I suspect it will not be my last. By definition, a preprint is a draft manuscript that is shared publicly (often via a preprint server) before it has been peer reviewed. For the researcher, there are several benefits for posting a preprint to include, early credit and visibility for the research done, and an opportunity to obtain feedback prior to submitting the manuscript to a journal for publication. In my professional readings this month, I’ve noted a couple of interesting articles about preprints.

Exciting News! A new preprint server is scheduled to go live on June 25 and is now accepting manuscripts. medRxiv, a collaboration between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Yale University, and the BMJ will focus on the medical sciences. This resource was developed with a wealth of past experience from the founders of bioRxiv, who have been working on medRxiv since 2017 to deliver a platform that would share new research while safeguarding concerns of making non-peer reviewed clinical research available. View a short video (10:55 min) from other collaborators entitled, “Research Preprint Server Launches at Yale University”, to learn more about medRxiv.

Richard Sever and John Inglis from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Mike Eisen from University of California Berkeley shared their “Plan U” (Plan Universal), and are calling on organizations that fund research (e.g. NIH) to require the scientists they support to post their draft manuscripts on preprint servers before submitting to scholarly journals for publication. This solution is based on the value arXiv.org has delivered to the research community over the last 28 years, and the launch of other subject-specific servers such as bioRxiv, founded by Sever and Inglis in 2013.

Plan U has the potential to speed up research itself, because other researchers can build on what has been shared, as well as provide insightful feedback. You can read more about Plan U in the open access journal PLOS Biology (published June 4, 2019).

Finally, an announcement was shared by Springer Nature “encouraging” and supporting pre-publication sharing of manuscripts. Recognizing the benefits of disseminating and sharing research via preprints, this publisher has updated their preprint policy. Two key points regarding the revised policy are: (1) authors may choose any license for preprints, including Creative Commons licences; and (2) the updated policy has more information about the publisher’s position on author engagement with the media in response to inquiries about preprints.

Preprints are a legitimate part of the scholarly communication workflow and provide another forum for researchers to stay current in their disciplines of interests. This is evident in the growing number of posts reported each year. bioRxiv, for example, has seen a large increase in preprints in 2018 alone, more than in the four previous years since it went live.

If you want to read other posts about preprints from the MSK Library Blog, just type preprint in the search bar located at the bottom right, in the navigation column of our blog.

Donna Gibson
Director of Library Services