University of Nebraska Medical Center

Scholarly dissemination: Preprints

The McGoogan Library is posting a series of articles regarding new methods of scholarly dissemination.  

A preprint is a version of a research manuscript that is disseminated prior to the peer review process. Preprints are frequently posted in an electronic format and often made available to the public on a preprint server such as bioRxiv or medRxiv. Most preprints are assigned a digital object identifier (DOI) so that it is possible to cite them in other research papers. Preprints are often associated with a push towards Open Access (OA) as well as efforts to expedite the dissemination of scientific content.  While preprints have been around for several decades, the COVID-19 global pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in the number of publications archived in preprint servers. A 2020 Nature article entitled “Will the pandemic permanently alter scientific publishing” explores the potential impacts of preprints on the scholarly publications’ life cycle.  

Pros of archiving preprints include: 

  • fast dissemination/discussion of research results 
  • feedback from the research community prior to submission to a scientific journal 
  • earlier documentation of the originality of research based on DOI 
  • exposure of research to a potentially larger group 
  • availability of articles that might otherwise not be published 
  • availability to researchers without library access 

Cons of archiving preprints include:  

  • dissemination of inaccurate information 
  • misuse of preprints by media and news outlets 
  • contribution to “information overload” 
  • refusal of some publishers to publish items that have been archived as preprints 

For more information on preprints, see our research guide.  

This article was reproduced from the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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