Why Preprint Servers are so important for Scholarly Publishing?

Publishing Mar 12, 2021

In scholarly and academic publishing, preprint servers play a high-level role, especially in preparing to launch work following open academic publishing standards. The guidelines should be followed for preprint formatting, publication, and search retrieval. Preprint servers provide a platform for scholars to submit and get peer reviews on their work before publication in journals.

What are preprint servers?

Preprint servers are repositories or online archives that contain works or data related to different scholarly papers that are not yet peer-reviewed or accepted by traditional academic journals. These preprints undergo necessary screening and are checked for plagiarism (preprints that are not edited or formatted before published online).

Once submitted, authors can add revised versions of their papers. The articles cannot be deleted but can be cited. After being released, readers can review and post comments on the published articles.

That's one of the main reasons why Preprint servers are an excellent way for researchers to share and get feedback on their academic work progress.

What is the purpose of preprint servers?

Preprint servers are a simple way for scholars to receive feedback on their articles quickly.

Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal often takes a long time from the time of initial submission. Editors and reviewers use the waiting time to evaluate and critique manuscripts, and authors make the necessary changes. To shorten that waiting time, scholars submit their unpublished work in the form of preprints. This allows authors to receive early feedback from their peers, which might help revise and prepare the submission preprints.

Preprints are also a way to protect intellectual property and demonstrate the precedence of the discoveries. Many publishers allow work to get published to preprint servers before submission. Still, many journals do not allow the use of preprints in the references as they are not considered credible sources.

The role of preprint servers in Scholarly Publishing

In the digital land of scholarly publishing, the main role of preprints is that they allow scholars to disseminate their work quickly and to a much wider audience than they could by publishing in traditional journals. Preprints servers allow scholars to put their work out there and get feedback in real-time. They also ensure that open access to journal work is available regardless of where they formally publish.

More and more scholars are embracing digital ways of finding and engaging with research. Preprints are evolving much faster than ever. Plus, there are preprint servers for many different subjects like: arXiv, for maths, physics, and other sciences; BioArXiv, for biology; SocArXiv, for social sciences, and more (extensive list below). With the increase in preprint, many journals are emphasizing preprint publishing models, where they encourage scholars to publish preprint versions of their works in addition to publishing with traditional publishers to make their research Green OA. Scholars can link their preprint articles to the DOI (digital object identifier) of the formally published version to connect the two. Some traditional publishers focus on preprint servers, where they publish final articles on preprint servers to make research completely open.

Preprint servers can be assigned into three categories: general (accepts all kinds of preprints, with a little bias towards some topics, such as Authorea), field-specific (like bioRxiv, ChemRxiv), and regional (e.g., AfricArxiv, Arabixiv).

Preprints can also be categorized by the owner (private publishing company, e.g., PeerJ PrePrints, libraries, e.g., EarthArXiv, universities, e.g., arXiv or independent non-profit organizations, e.g., HAL).

Some of the most popular preprint servers are:

  • BioRxiv: a preprint repository for biological sciences. Pronounced as "bio-archive," the preprint server was founded in 2013 and is run by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. The bioRxiv website mentioned that “By posting preprints on bioRxiv, authors can make their findings immediately available to the scientific community and receive feedback on draft manuscripts before they are submitted to journals.”
  • ArXiv: an open-access preprint server. It is run by Cornell University and offers preprints in physics, mathematics, statistics, quantitative biology, systems science, quantitative finance, economics, and electrical engineering.
  • SocArXiv, part of ArXiv but for social sciences
  • ChemRxiv: The American Chemical Society's (ACS) new preprint server effort, still a WIP.
  • The Winnower: an open access online scholarly publishing platform. It offers an open post-publication peer review forum.
  • Orvium: a fresh and exciting new preprint server, with a very intuitive interface and innovative review process that puts the power back in the author’s hands.
  • PsyArXiv: allows publishing preprints in the field of psychology. It was launched in 2016 by Cornell University. PrePubMed: indexes preprints from PeerJ Preprints, Figshare, bioRxiv, and F1000Research (other preprint servers).

Preprint servers are here to stay!

Preprint Servers will be with scholars for the foreseeable future. It's still hard to say where it exactly fits into the scholarly world. With the launch of Discrete Analysis and other overlay journals, the gap between preprint servers and academic publishing is no longer as wide as it was before.

As academia moves towards an open-access future, preprints servers will continue to be widely accepted and called upon in different ways.

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