Thinking About Publishing Preprints? See 5 Pros and Cons

May 13, 2022 Ver este post en Español

Do you want to publish your next paper as a preprint or simply want to learn more about what preprints are? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will teach you all about preprints, including the five main benefits and concerns of publishing preprints. To conclude, you’ll learn how to stay up-to-date with Orvium regarding preprints.

What are Preprints?

Preprints are scientific articles or manuscripts (published in preprint servers before they go through the peer-review process and publication process in an academic journal) that provide immediate access to new information. They can be either the author’s final version of a paper, a version that hasn’t yet undergone peer review, or any version prior to formatting and editing.

Each preprint receives a digital object identifier (DOI) once published and is indexed by Altmetric and Google Scholar.  

Preprint servers are online archives or repositories publically available that host preprints and their associated data. Servers have screening processes; however, they aren’t as rigorous as peer review. See why preprint servers are important for scholarly publishing here.

When Should You Consider Publishing a Preprint?

You may consider publishing to a preprint server whenever you want to:

  • Increase the visibility of research more quickly (compared to publishing in journals)
  • Have broader exposure, reaching those with and without access to expensive journals or databases (since you can publish preprints as Open Access)
  • Receive timely feedback from peers to further improve the paper
  • Establish priority over scientific discoveries or breakthroughs
  • Release vital information related to managing huge health concerns (like Covid-19 preprint sharing to combat the spread of the disease).

If you’ve decided to go ahead and publish one, see the five benefits and concerns below.

5 Benefits of Publishing Preprints

1) You’re more likely to receive higher citations, including higher Altmetric scores. This happens because academics and scientists more often cite, blog about, share, and tweet preprints (or journal articles with a preprint). Thus, it increases your visibility and exposure, helps you network with experts in your field, and makes a more significant impact long term.

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2) The world sees your work more quickly. Depending on the journal, publishing in one takes anywhere from three to six months, sometimes longer. This doesn’t take into account the countless hours or weeks you spent with previous revisions or submissions to only wind up with rejections. Conversely, the typical wait time to publish a preprint is roughly two days between submission and publication. This almost instantaneous publication has several benefits:you can let your peers know that you’re researching something of vital importance and receive valuable feedback much quicker

  • you can show employers or funding agencies that you’re being productive (crucial for junior researchers or those who haven’t published in a long time)
  • your preprint comes with an unedited timestamp so you can claim priority over your findings
  • you’re advancing science by allowing your fellow peers to advance their research more quickly as well by providing immediate access to your findings
  • editors, journalists, and the public can better understand what research is currently undergoing.

3) Your article/paper may improve. Before the rigorous peer-review process, you may choose to have your work publicly reviewed when you publish on a preprint server. Keep in mind that not all feedback will be friendly, so you may choose to have people reach out privately instead. By reacting to and applying the changes your readers suggest, you might have fewer revisions later on, improve your paper, and have higher chances of being approved for a journal.

4) You can publish your “unpublishable” data. Some peer-reviewed journals only accept papers that tell a story, sometimes excluding the negative or “boring” results. However, negative results aren’t meaningless or boring, they’re, in fact, considered helpful for future research and could inspire new directions for other studies. Preprints are an excellent alternative to those papers, focusing on your complete observations, including negative results.

5) You can publish Open Access for free. Unfortunately, even publishing Open Access sometimes costs money. Thankfully, preprints don’t cost money, so it’s a clear choice when you want to get the word out, but you or your organization don’t have the time to wait or the funds necessary to publish.

5 Concerns of Publishing Preprints

1) Some journal policies may not allow you to publish preprints before submission. Most journals will enable you to publish preprints and have preprint policies or requirements. However, some exceptions exist, and not all journals have a clear policy. For example, you may have to include where and when you published the preprint, or you may not be allowed to update a preprint following a manuscript peer review. Check the preprint policies by academic publishers here.

Important note: we at Orvium encourage you to publish your preprints on our highly intuitive interface, with access to an innovative peer-review process before submission to a journal.

2) It may take more time to publish a preprint. Although the wait time is much shorter than for journal submission, you may need to consider additional tasks on top of what it takes to publish a paper. Besides data collection, analysis, writing, editing, formatting, composing a cover letter, and looking for peer reviewers, before publishing a preprint, you may need to add to your list:

  • clarifying and checking journal policies
  • registering with a preprint platform
  • uploading your article/manuscript.

3) You may receive negative comments on your preprint. Preprints receive more exposure, so you’re also more likely to receive comments after publishing one. Whether publicly or privately, some comments can truly demoralize you. In this case, the best thing to do is to put those critical words aside for a while. Revisit them in a few hours or days to judge whether or not the feedback applies to your preprint. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, don’t allow it to discourage you from revising for journal submission after editing. Consider these comments or feedback as a pre-peer review.

4) You fear someone else “scoops” your idea. The fear that other researchers or another research group steals an idea from your preprint and successfully publishes it before you is real within the scientific community. You can rest assured thanks to the DOI that each preprint receives after publication; that is your permanent timestamp, and no one can claim they didn’t see it. Peer reviewers and editors are aware of who the owner is.  

5) Preprints make it difficult for scientists and the public to distinguish between low- and high-quality research. Weaker preprint studies can receive disproportionate exposure if there isn’t an expert assessment (because of too much social media sharing). Additionally, good work could be ignored over a weaker, more overblown study, leading to confusion and misinformation. To combat this, preprint servers can implement tighter screening processes, educate the public on the difference between preprints and peer-reviewed articles, and hold scientists and academicians more accountable for specifying which of the two they’re publishing.

Stay Up-to-Date With Orvium

Preprints aren’t a good fit for all articles or papers, but one thing is for sure - preprint servers will be around for the foreseeable future, and they’re a means of advancing science with pertinent findings and research.

It’s always a good idea to make these findings available to the public, and Orvium strongly believes this. That’s why you can easily edit a publication on our platform by adding some publication details. Once your publication is approved (after we check if it complies with our standards), it will be accessible as a preprint, ready for new comments and feedback!

Check out more of what we do on our platform, and invite your peers to collaborate and publish work.

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