“Authors with preprints on the new health sciences preprint server medRxiv now have the option to transfer their manuscripts for publication consideration at relevant PLOS journals in the topic area, PLOS Medicine, PLOS NTDs, or PLOS ONE. PLOS is excited to be among the first publishers to offer direct transfer service from the new server….”
“The launch of the latest preprint server, MEDRxiv, specifically targeted at the clinical research community, is a sign of growing interest in preprints among health researchers. Preprints are scholarly papers that are posted by authors in an openly accessible platform, usually before submission to a journal for formal publication.1 There are now about 45 preprint servers in operation across academic disciplines, and the number of articles being posted is growing rapidly. In response to this trend, we have developed a policy on preprints that permits papers deposited in a preprint server to be considered for publication in CMAJ and CMAJ Open.
For researchers, preprints facilitate early and rapid dissemination of their work among the research community, which provides an opportunity for them to receive feedback from a wide audience that may improve the draft paper before journal submission. Preprints may help authors to establish precedence for a research finding or find potential collaborators for future work.1,2
More broadly, preprints may help reduce research waste and publication bias.2 Even good studies may have difficulty getting published at times because of negative results or limited generalizability. Preprint servers can facilitate dissemination of these study findings among the research community. And researchers can check whether there is recent research in an area they are considering exploring, which could reduce the likelihood of duplicative studies….”
“In general, there are a number of reasons. I think first and foremost it is speeding up dissemination of research. If you submit a paper to a journal, it takes on average about seven months before the work is actually published. But that’s an underestimate because normally a lot of times people have to go through various submission and rejection cycles at another journal. So it’s probably more like a year.
It’s not unheard of for people to spend two to three years waiting for the work to come out. And that’s all time where other people in the field could be reading it and building on that work. I think what’s important from a system-wide perspective, if you add up all those years, timesaving could be very important. Steve Quake of the Biohub did a back-of-the-envelope calculation. It could be that after 10 years you could speed up discovery five-fold.
From an individual’s point of view, if you’re a postdoc applying for tenure track, if you post a preprint, you can give to a hiring committee, tenure committee, or grant agency and say, ‘this is my most recent work,’ and show early evidence of productivity, rather than having to tread water for ages. This is particularly important for young scientists.
Finally, it’s an opportunity for authors to get feedback on their work from a very large number of people so that, when it is submitted for formal assessment by a journal, it’s in much better shape. . . . What’s happening there is a lot more people are looking at it than peer reviewers. Normally, you would have three people peer review a paper. If you put it on a preprint server, you could get feedback from, well, 4 million are looking at bioRxiveach month and not all of them are going to read all the papers, but way more than three will be looking at it….”
“This debate is not new for The BMJ: over 20 years ago Tony Delamothe, the journal’s deputy editor, asked The BMJ’sreadership what we should do about electronic preprints,8 and the responses9 were similar to discussions now. The headline conclusion reached by Delamothe was that clear labelling of preprints might allow them to be used safely.8 As a result, BMJ launched the first clinical preprint server, ClinMedNetPrints.org, in 1999. The server operated until 2008 and received around 80 submissions before it was closed because of lack of use.
But times have changed, and we believe the need for an independent clinical preprint server remains. Clinical research can currently be found scattered on various preprint servers, ranging from bioRxiv and arXiv to servers established by publishers to link to their journals.10 We believe that the community will be served best by a preprint server that is specific to clinical research so that suitable safeguards can operate and by one that is not linked to specific journals or publishers but provides a central freely accessible archive.
BMJ (publisher of The BMJ) is therefore announcing its partnership with colleagues at Yale University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to launch medRxiv. Harlan Krumholz and Joseph Ross, clinician-researchers at Yale, have long been advocates of preprints,4 while Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory operates the bioRxiv life sciences preprint server. BMJ brings its long experience of publishing and review of clinical research, researching the effects of changes in publishing,11 and publication ethics.12
In working to launch medRxiv we have focused on light-touch processes and workflows that we believe will reduce the potential for harm while retaining the advantages of speed and openness. A first step will be for authors to make various declarations about the work: how it has been conducted and reported, any conflicts of interest, and details of ethical approval. Then, all manuscripts will undergo several rapid rounds of screening before they are posted. The first will ensure that a manuscript is a research article (medRxiv will not accept case reports or opinion pieces, for example) and will cover obvious legal problems such as plagiarism and defamation. Then, a researcher in a relevant field will check the basic content and organisation of the article—but medRxiv does not endorse a manuscript’s methods, assumptions, conclusions, or scientific quality. And finally, a key screening question will be whether a preprint, if posted, has the potential to do harm to individual patients or the public. If in doubt medRxiv will not post the preprint; the authors will be encouraged instead to publish only after peer review.
By posting preprints, authors can help promote openness and transparency and reduce research waste from duplicated efforts and non-reporting. By helping ensure a balance of safety and speed, we believe medRxiv can provide a valuable service to the clinical research community. We will regularly report on any research that we do on the effect of preprints, and we encourage third parties to contact us for research opportunities. We also urge all readers of The BMJ and its sibling journals to read and deposit preprints in medRxiv. We look forward to reporting on its progress over the coming months….”
“Preprints — versions of research papers made publicly available prior to formal publication in a peer reviewed journal — continue to be a topic of much discussion within the medical publications community. As the industry looks at ways to improve and advance the transparent and timely dissemination of research, preprints offer a potential route to achieving these aims. Already commonly used in fields such as physics, the launch of the medical publications preprint server medRxiv, expected later this year, is awaited with interest.
Meanwhile, Public Library of Science (PLOS) announced last month that all articles submitted to PLOS journals will now automatically be published on the biology preprint server bioRxiv as preprints, ahead of ‘traditional’ publication in a PLOS journal. Following initial top-line checks by PLOS, to ensure adherence to things like ethical standards and the journal’s scope, articles will be posted to bioRxiv while undergoing peer review at PLOS in parallel.
PLOS and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which operates bioRxiv, hope this collaboration will help advance data dissemination and ultimately increase the speed of research. The potential of preprints has also been explored by other groups, including the possibility for preprints to improve online article engagement and for journals to use preprint servers to identify potential articles for publication.”