Preprints are an essential contributor to research, as they allow early release of findings, discoveries and data. Indeed, preprints and even earlier releases of data have played a critical role in scientific response, contributing to fast-evolving COVID-19 research approaches and advances.Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive of the Group of Eight.*
Preprints are early versions of research papers that have not yet been peer reviewed. They are typically shared on preprint servers, where they may use open licences, such as Creative Commons licences.
While the practice of sharing preprints has historically centred on certain scientific disciplines, it has been gaining moment across all disciplines in recent years, including in the humanities.
Regardless of your field, by sharing your early work as preprints you can:
- Rapidly disseminate findings to a global audience.
- Make your work freely available to policy makers, practitioners, researchers, and the public.
- Share and enable easy citation with a permanent identifier, such as a DOI.
- Establish your area of research and open up opportunities to connect with potential collaborators.
- Create opportunities to receive feedback on your work prior to formal peer review, allowing you to undertake revisions.
- Demonstrate openness and transparency by allowing scrutiny of your early work.
- Point to your early work in job and grant applications.
Most academic publishers and journals welcome the submission of manuscripts that are already available as preprints. Such journals usually only require that:
- Authors provide details of the preprint upon submission.
- The preprint has not undergone formal peer review elsewhere.
- The preprint record will be updated to link to the published version, preferably by DOI.
Most publishers will also allow submitted manuscripts to be shared at any time on preprint servers, and accept the submission of manuscripts already available as preprints. Nonetheless, it is always worthwhile checking publishers' policies beforehand.
Preprints are usually shared on dedicated preprint servers. Prominent general, or multi-disciplinary, preprint servers include:
There are also a range of discipline-specific preprint servers, both in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) fields and in HASS (humanities, arts, and the social sciences). Some examples include:
- arXiv.org (scientific disciplines, particularly physics and mathematics, but also economics and finance)
- bioRxiv (biology)
- ChemRxiv (chemistry)
- EdArxiv (education)
- medRxiv (medicine and health sciences)
- PsyArXiv (psychological sciences)
- RePEc EconPapers (business and economics)
- SocArxiv (social sciences)
The Directory of Open Access Preprint Repositories (DOAPR) can be used to discover reputable preprint servers in your area.