# Accelerating scholarly communication: The transformative role of preprints | Zenodo

Abstract:  The preprints landscape is evolving rapidly, and the full impact of sharing articles in pre-review form remains to be seen. After publishing our initial report ‘The evolving preprint landscape’ in 2018 and a slide deck ‘Practices, drivers and impediments in the use of preprints’ in spring 2019, we are now able to share our final report ‘Accelerating scholarly communication – The transformative role of preprints’.

Preprints (tentatively defined as versions of research papers typically prior to peer review and publication in a journal) have become more widespread in a number of disciplines over the last few years, partly to counter the slow pace of the traditional publishing process and partly to allow authors to reach a broader audience. Knowledge Exchange, in collaboration with Research Consulting, investigated this phenomenon in order to explore the current place of preprints in the scholarly communication process.

In this context, we interviewed 38 stakeholders, including researchers, research performing organisations, research funding organisations and preprint service providers, and reviewed over 60 literature sources.

Our key results include the benefits and challenges for researchers in using preprints as well as the establishment of trust without peer review including the role of twitter. Moreover, we reflect on the responsibilities for preprint posting in the future and the role of scholarly communities and commercial publishers.

In addition to our latest report you can find our detailed analysis in the preprint ‘Preprints and Scholarly Communication: Adoption, Practices, Drivers and Barriers’ by Research Consulting on F1000.

# The Second Wave of Preprint Servers: How Can Publishers Keep Afloat? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Preprint servers have been growing explosively over the last ten years: over 60 platforms are currently available worldwide, and the sharing of research outputs prior to formal peer-review and publication is increasing in popularity. Preprint servers have a long history in fields such as high energy physics, where extensive collaboration and co-authorship are the norm, and economics, with its lengthy review and publication process. Services like arXiv and RePEC emerged in the 1990s as a means of enabling early-sharing of research results in these disciplines, and have co-existed with traditional journals for decades….

Over the last 12 months we’ve been working on a project commissioned by Knowledge Exchange to explore the role of preprints in the scholarly communication process, speaking with researchers, research performing organizations, research funding organizations, and preprint service providers. Our interviews with authors indicate that early and fast dissemination is the primary motive behind preprint posting. In addition, the increased scope for feedback seems to be highly valued, with much of this interaction taking place via Twitter and email, rather than via direct comments on preprint servers. Early career researchers see particular advantages: the inclusion of preprints on CVs or funding applications enables them to demonstrate credibility in a field much sooner than would otherwise be the case….

In fields with a longstanding preprint culture, such as economics, scholarly practice has evolved to the point where ‘the working paper [on RePEc] is downloaded many times more than the article’. Similar patterns have been observed in mathematics, where arXiv-deposited articles appear to receive a citation advantage but see a reduction in downloads, and there are early indications of citation and altmetric advantages to biological science papers deposited in bioRxiv….

Journals with strong brands, or in fields that have yet to show much interest in preprints, may therefore find that a wait-and-see strategy serves them best. It remains unclear how many of the new crop of preprint servers will be able to develop a sustainable business model, and the recent decision by PeerJ to stop accepting new preprints lends credence to a cautious approach. Having established the first dedicated services for preprints in biology and life science, PeerJ’s management team have now opted to focus solely on peer-reviewed journals – effectively conceding the territory to not-for-profit preprint servers such as BioRxiv. As PeerJ’s CEO Jason Hoyt observes: ‘What we’re learning is that preprints are not a desired replacement for peer review, but a welcome complement to it.’

The second wave of preprint servers has much to offer the researcher community, but those expecting it to wash away existing scientific journals are liable to be disappointed. In our view, the biggest threat to academic publishers will come, not from preprint servers, but from other publishers that do a better job of addressing authors’ desire for accelerated dissemination, feedback and scholarly credit. This might be achieved through improved internal workflows, acquisition or strategic partnerships. In each case, seeing the integration of preprints into the research workflow as an opportunity, rather than a disruptive threat, is likely to offer publishers the best hope of continuing to identify and attract high-quality content.

# Community Comments and Peer Review: A preprint commenting pilot at PLOS  | The Official PLOS Blog

“Researchers have told us that posting manuscripts as preprints before—or at the same time as—submitting them to a journal is a great way to gain additional feedback from the community and improve their paper. Could the same community feedback also help improve the quality and speed of the review process at a journal? We’re launching a pilot to find out….”

# bioRxiv: Trends and analysis of five years of preprints – Anderson – – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  bioRxiv was founded on the premise that publicly posting preprints would allow authors to receive feedback and submit improved papers to journals. This paper analyses a number of trends against this stated purpose, namely, the timing of preprint postings relative to submission to accepting journals; trends in the rate of unpublished preprints over time; trends in the timing of publication of preprints by accepting journals; and trends in the concentration of published, reviewed preprints by publisher. Findings show that a steady c.30% of preprints remain unpublished and that the majority is posted onto bioRxiv close to or after submission – therefore giving no time for feedback to help improve the articles. Four publishers (Elsevier, Nature, PLOS, and Oxford University Press) account for the publication of 47% of bioRxiv preprints. Taken together, it appears that bioRxiv is not accomplishing its stated goals and that authors may be using the platform more to establish priority, as a marketing enhancement of papers, and as functional Green OA, rather than as a community?driven source of prepublication review.

# Do Authors Deposit on Time? Tracking Open Access Policy Compliance – IEEE Conference Publication

Abstract:  Recent years have seen fast growth in the number of policies mandating Open Access (OA) to research outputs. We conduct a large-scale analysis of over 800 thousand papers from repositories around the world published over a period of 5 years to investigate: a) if the time lag between the date of publication and date of deposit in a repository can be effectively tracked across thousands of repositories globally, and b) if introducing deposit deadlines is associated with a reduction of time from acceptance to public availability of research outputs. We show that after the introduction of the UK REF 2021 OA policy, this time lag has decreased significantly in the UK and that the policy introduction might have accelerated the UK’s move towards immediate OA compared to other countries. This supports the argument for the inclusion of a time-limited deposit requirement in OA policies.

# Open Access and the Humanities | FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press

“First, in the United Kingdom at least, green open access – where authors deposit their accepted manuscripts or later versions in an institutional repository – has become entirely normalised as a result of funder policies associated with the Research Excellence Framework. An exponentially greater volume of material here, and in other countries around Europe, has become available in repositories. This has not led to the collapse of the subscription ecosystem but has meant that many more people are able to access research work.

Second, powerful international funder mandates, such as ‘Plan S’, have accelerated the schedule for OA. Importantly, for the humanities disciplines, guidance on a mandate for monographs will be forthcoming in 2021, so the timescale for implementation is emerging. We need to use this time to find business models that will allow for sustainable and perhaps scalable OA for books (hint: it’s not book processing charges). To appropriate the words of a prominent figure in other spheres of European politics in recent days: ‘please do not waste this time’.

Third, many humanists have realised the benefits of OA for their work, although they remain stymied from pursuing the ‘gold route’ because of the prevalence of article processing charges, which they cannot afford. New models such as those pioneered by my own Open Library of Humanities, but also Open Book Publishers, punctum books, and others, though, point the way towards business models that could achieve full access to the version of record, without author-facing charges. We now need other publishers to adopt these models themselves. The desire of humanists to publish openly is becoming more and more widespread, when the conditions are right. Fostering this positivity while working to make OA possible – rather than just relying on the coercion of funder mandates – is vitally important if we are to have a world that values humanistic knowledge.

Fourth, there is an increasing dialogue around global inclusivity in scholarly communications in general. While article processing charge models for OA have been criticized for excluding scholars from the Global South (to use a contested term), for instance, this has opened a broader dialogue around who is allowed to read and write within our academic publishing processes. For example, one might ask, what does it mean that English remains the lingua franca of scholarly publishing, derived from colonial legacies?…”

# News & Views: Have We Reached Peak Hybrid? – Delta Think

“Although it’s still not perfect, the data about scholarly output has improved over the last couple of years. We recently analyzed all 110m records in the Unpaywall data set to see if we could determine the uptake of OA at scale and set it in the context of non-OA output. The results might surprise you….

Even allowing for different methodologies, like-for-like underlying trends appear consistent. It seems that even before the effects of Plan S have fully manifested, hybrid share of output is slowing. Note that the overall number of hybrid articles continues to grow – it’s just that other content types are growing more quickly.

There could be a number of reasons for this. For example, most of the funders pushing for OA rolled out their mandates over the last few years. We may therefore be seeing a natural slow-down as localized silos of OA uptake are nearing saturation. Meanwhile, until mandates in other areas of the world change or appear, further wholesale shift is unlikely….

Further deep analysis of the data lies outside the scope of this piece. But we leave you with one thought. If hybrid share is already in decline, but transformative agreements are on the rise, then will Plan S have the effect of slowing down the very change it’s trying to accelerate?…”

# A Crisis in “Open Access”: Should Communication Scholarly Outputs Take 77 Years to Become Open Access? – Abbas Ghanbari Baghestan, Hadi Khaniki, Abdolhosein Kalantari, Mehrnoosh Akhtari-Zavare, Elaheh Farahmand, Ezhar Tamam, Nader Ale Ebrahim, Havva Sabani, Mahmoud Danaee, 2019

Abstract:  This study diachronically investigates the trend of the “open access” in the Web of Science (WoS) category of “communication.” To evaluate the trend, data were collected from 184 categories of WoS from 1980 to 2017. A total of 87,997,893 documents were obtained, of which 95,304 (0.10%) were in the category of “communication.” In average, 4.24% of the documents in all 184 categories were open access. While in communication, it was 3.29%, which ranked communication 116 out of 184. An Open Access Index (OAI) was developed to predict the trend of open access in communication. Based on the OAI, communication needs 77 years to fully reach open access, which undeniably can be considered as “crisis in scientific publishing” in this field. Given this stunning information, it is the time for a global call for “open access” by communication scholars across the world. Future research should investigate whether the current business models of publications in communication scholarships are encouraging open access or pose unnecessary restrictions on knowledge development.

# A Crisis in “Open Access”: Should Communication Scholarly Outputs Take 77 Years to Become Open Access? – Abbas Ghanbari Baghestan, Hadi Khaniki, Abdolhosein Kalantari, Mehrnoosh Akhtari-Zavare, Elaheh Farahmand, Ezhar Tamam, Nader Ale Ebrahim, Havva Sabani, Mahmoud Danaee, 2019

Abstract:  This study diachronically investigates the trend of the “open access” in the Web of Science (WoS) category of “communication.” To evaluate the trend, data were collected from 184 categories of WoS from 1980 to 2017. A total of 87,997,893 documents were obtained, of which 95,304 (0.10%) were in the category of “communication.” In average, 4.24% of the documents in all 184 categories were open access. While in communication, it was 3.29%, which ranked communication 116 out of 184. An Open Access Index (OAI) was developed to predict the trend of open access in communication. Based on the OAI, communication needs 77 years to fully reach open access, which undeniably can be considered as “crisis in scientific publishing” in this field. Given this stunning information, it is the time for a global call for “open access” by communication scholars across the world. Future research should investigate whether the current business models of publications in communication scholarships are encouraging open access or pose unnecessary restrictions on knowledge development.

# Accelerating scholarly communication: The transformative role of preprints

“The overall objective of this study was to explore the place of preprints in the research lifecycle from the points of view of researchers, research performing organisations, research funding organisations and preprint servers/ service providers. Our investigation covered:

 Core benefits and usage in the case of researchers, including incentives and disincentives

Attitudes of research performing organisations (RPOs) and research funders

` Values, strategies and aims of service providers….”