McGoogan News

Preprints: Where to Post and How to Cite

By Emily Glenn

The National Institutes of Health recently shared a notice about reporting preprints and interim research products in NIH award applications and reports: Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products (NOT-OD-17-050) (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-050.html). This guide advises authors that they may include publicly available preprints and interim research products–which cite NIH awards–in their NIH report materials. Preprints and interim research products are not required to be publicly posted or to be reported.

What are Preprints?
Preprints, often called e-prints, are a complete and public draft of a scientific document, typically unreviewed manuscripts, written in the style of a peer-reviewed journal article. Researchers post preprints to speed dissemination, establish priority, obtain feedback, and offset publication bias. Preprints are not indexed in literature databases.

Where Can Preprints be Posted?
Authors may choose post preprints on discipline-specific preprint servers, such as bioRxiv, arXiv, or PsyArXiv, or on sites like Figshare.

BioRxiv, a preprint server for articles covering all aspects of research in the life sciences, is hosted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Each paper posted to bioRxiv is assigned a preprint DOI (papers with journal-issued DOIs cannot be submitted.) Readers may add public comments to articles on bioRxiv.

ArXiv.org, operated by the Cornell University Library, hosts preprints in physicis, mathematics, computer science, and quantitative biology, finance, and statistics. DOIs are not assigned in ArXiv, so users should also plan on posting their preprints directly to a site like Figshare to obtain a DOI.

PsyArXiv is an interactive digital repository for papers on psychological science. DOIs are assigned at upload.

Figshare is a site that allows users to upload any file format and display that content in a browser. Figshare is especially useful for posters, presentations, datasets and code–items that are challenging to disseminate in a way that current scholarly publishing models allow. DOIs are assigned at upload.

Wherever items are posted, authors must still follow publisher requirements regarding sharing works prior final publication. Many publishers allow some version of scholarly articles to be posted in the author’s institutional repository. Permissions for many publishers can be found at SHERPA RoMEO (http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo). The library can assist authors with selecting a Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) license that allows authors to retain copyright.

Identifying predatory publishers

In this age of open access publishing, where authors to retain copyright and removes the paywall to potential readers, one must be aware that not all open access publishers are the same. Predatory publishers—those who distribute content solely to make money from article processing charges (APCs) –have little regard for peer review and what researchers typically expect from scholarly publishing processes.

But, how can you tell if a journal publisher is potentially predatory? It is a challenge: journal titles and publisher names are similar, reputable-looking articles front the website, and editorial boards looks to be full of experts from reputable institutions. You may have even received an invitation to submit a paper, complete with the convincing “hook” of knowledge about your work or field.

An article recently published in BMC Medicine tackles the issue of spotting the difference between potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals. It highlights the typical characteristics of predatory journals, such as broad scope, errors in grammar and spelling, no retraction policy for submissions, and little or no mention of copyright. (All 13 characteristics are outlined in Table 10 of the article.)

In addition to these, consider whether a journal is indexed in MEDLINE, Scopus, or other major databases and whether all fees are clearly disclosed. Authors should look at the journal and publisher critically. The library’s Author Toolkit guide provides some pointers.

If you have questions about the quality of a journal, librarians can help. Please contact the AskUs Desk at 402-559-6221 or askus@unmc.edu for assistance.

Services spotlight: Writing assistance

The library often receives questions or requests for writing assistance. There are services across campus that can assist you, in addition to online resources from the library.

The Writing Center at the McGoogan Library of Medicine, staffed via University of Nebraska Omaha, is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to work with a writing consultant on any writing project. This free service is appropriate for writing assignments, application essays, business letters, or other projects. Please see The Writing Center site for more information and to book an appointment. Online consultations are also available for all of those at UNMC’s campuses across Nebraska and distance students. The Writing Center is sponsored by Academic Affairs.

The Research Editorial Office provides UNMC faculty members with proposal development and grant and manuscript editing support. This editorial service requires a UNMC cost center code.

The library provides resources and guides to help you in your writing: