“Roughly half of Darwin’s contributions to Nature were transcripts (with due credit) of reports and findings sent to him. The writers of the letters were from Brazil, the United States, Peru and Poland. …”
Abstract: The traditional publication process delays dissemination of new research, often by months, sometimes by years. Preprint servers decouple dissemination of research papers from their evaluation and certification by journals, allowing researchers to share work immediately, receive feedback from a much larger audience, and provide evidence of productivity long before formal publication. Launched in 2013 as a non-profit community service, the bioRxiv server has brought preprint practice to the life sciences and recently posted its 64,000th manuscript. The server now receives more than four million views per month and hosts papers spanning all areas of biology. Initially dominated by evolutionary biology, genetics/genomics and computational biology, bioRxiv has been increasingly populated by papers in neuroscience, cell and developmental biology, and many other fields. Changes in journal and funder policies that encourage preprint posting have helped drive adoption, as has the development of bioRxiv technologies that allow authors to transfer papers easily between the server and journals. A bioRxiv user survey found that 42% of authors post their preprints prior to journal submission whereas 37% post concurrently with journal submission. Authors are motivated by a desire to share work early; they value the feedback they receive, and very rarely experience any negative consequences of preprint posting. Rapid dissemination via bioRxiv is also encouraging new initiatives that experiment with the peer review process and the development of novel approaches to literature filtering and assessment.
“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….”
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.
“Five years ago, we commented that “open access to medical research has become more complicated than just choosing an idealistic new journal over regressive old ones”, referring to the labyrinth of hybrid subscription and article processing charge publishing models that exists, often disingenuously crafted so as to protect the business models of for-profit publishers. This unhelpful situation prevails today and prevents access in a fashion that could honestly be described as “open”, for many readers, to a large proportion of newly published research papers. We hope that the ongoing initiative Plan S—supported by the research funder group cOAlition S—will be able to resolve this issue by 2021….”
“It is, however, clearly problematic that cOAlition S has remained an essentially European initiative. For this reason when, in February, the Indian Government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, Professor VijayRaghavan posted a series of tweets saying that India was joining cOAlition S the news was greeted with great excitement by cOAlition S members, as well as by Plan S supporters like the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas.
The news was greeted with less enthusiasm back home in India, with concerns raised about the cost implications, the likely impact on small journals and publishers, and the way in which it would allow commercial publishers to continue to profit excessively from the research community – see, for instance, here, here and here.
Following Prof. VijayRaghavan’s tweets, however, radio silence set in, with no confirmation that India had formally joined, or any updates on the status of its plans. For this reason many ears pricked up last Friday when, during a lecture he gave at IISc Bangalore to mark Open Access Week, Prof. VijayRaghavan commented, “We are not committed to whatever Plan S does or does not do.” This sufficiently piqued the interest of Vasudevan Mukunth that he sought out Prof. VijayRaghavan and asked for clarification, which led to an interview in The Wire where it was confirmed that India no longer plans to join cOAlition S.
As I had been trying to interview Prof. VijayRaghavan for some months, I too was piqued by his comments and so took to Twitter to again invite him to answer the questions I had sent him in June. He agreed and below are his answers to an updated list of questions I emailed over to him….”
“The number and range of preprint initiatives has been expanding for a few years now, with bioRxiv, medRxiv, chemRxiv, and socRxiv among a much longer list, some quite obscure.
The recent announcement that PeerJ Preprints won’t be posting any more preprints after the end of this month may represent the beginning of “preprint deflation,” the first obvious retreat in the preprint realm, a world that has been haunted by questions of financial viability since Day 1.
Even long-standing preprint servers like arXiv have wrestled with the expense and work involved in posting free drafts of papers. The systems, people, and bandwidth needed to support technology platforms longterm aren’t cheap. Preprint platforms are no exception. This year, arXiv moved from one part of Cornell to another, in what looked like an attempt to shuffle overheads out of budgetary approval scrutiny for a time — after all, as I’ve calculated, if you include these, arXiv is hemorrhaging money every year, and nobody seems to want to confront that possibility.
Other indications of preprint deflation are observable in the analyses I’ve done around bioRxiv and socRxiv. The goals of these platforms — to encourage collaboration and pre-publication review — aren’t shared by most users, with authors increasingly using the platforms as marketing adjuncts or to meet Green OA requirements after successful submission to a journal….”
“Preprint repositories have traditionally served as platforms to share copies of working papers prior to publication. But today they are being used for so much more, like posting datasets, archiving final versions of articles to make them Green Open Access, and another major development — publishing academic journals. Over the past 20 years, the concept of overlay publishing, or layering journals on top of existing repository platforms, has developed from a pilot project idea to a recognized and growing publishing model.
In the overlay publishing model, a journal performs refereeing services, but it doesn’t publish articles on its website. Rather, the journal’s website links to final article versions hosted on an online repository….”
“In February 2018, K. VijayRaghavan, the principal scientific adviser to the Government of India, announced through a series of tweets that the Government of India, which funds over half of all scientific research undertaken in the country, will be joining an ambitious European effort to lower the costs of scientific publishing and improve public access to the scientific literature.
However, at a talk he delivered in Bengaluru on October 25, VijayRaghavan said that India will not be enrolling with this initiative – called Plan S – and that it is pursuing a parallel effort to negotiate with journal publishers….”