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.

bioRxiv: the preprint server for biology | bioRxiv

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.

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.


How journals are using overlay publishing models to facilitate equitable OA

“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….”

Open Access: The Role and Impact of Preprint Servers | NISO website

“Preprint servers and services are actively embraced by a broad range of research communities in North America. Scholarly output in a variety of forms (text, supplemental materials, code, etc.) can be accessed by students and researchers before a final version of record is released. That being the case, there are pragmatic concerns for various constituencies in the information community. Does the feedback that authors receive from those visiting these platforms suffice as a form of peer-review? What accountability exists? Does deposit of a researcher’s preprint automatically qualify as compliance with a funder’s mandate for OA? Additional issues include consistent use of identifiers, the supply of complete and accurate metadata, assurance of long-term preservation and system interoperability. Far from wishing to obstruct this approach to open access, most stakeholders seek to ensure preprint services will be appropriately recognized and integrated into our existing scholarly ecosystem.

The two-day event will enable participants to engage in a cross-sector discussion of how best to integrate preprint services into existing research processes. The objective is to identify potential issues and existing gaps currently impeding the work of those most affected. Scheduled small group discussions will allow attendees to better understand specific community needs and identify mechanisms that will satisfy those needs. What’s working? What’s not? Attend this NISO Foresight event and help the community to further open access just that little bit more!

Among others, currently confirmed speakers include Gerry Grenier, Senior Director, Content Management, IEEE, Oya Rieger, Senior Advisor, Ithaka S&R, Kent Anderson, Founder, Caldera Publishing Solutions, Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, COAR, Tyler Walters, Dean of Libraries, Virginia Tech; Angela Cochran, Managing Director and Publisher, ASCE, Thomas Narock, Assistant Professor, Integrative Data Analytics, Goucher College, and Gregg Gordon, Managing Director, SSRN….”

Discovery and scholarly communication aspects of preprints

“The purpose of preprints is to increase the speed at which research results are disseminated. They are not a way to bypass peer review—they bypass delays resulting from the peer review process.2 They have clear benefits to the authors, as preprints allow authors to stake a claim in their research by putting a “time-stamp” on their ideas.3 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cites both of these reasons for sharing preprints in a March 2017 Notice allowing NIH-funded researchers to cite preprints as products of NIH funding and cite them in further grant applications. It identifies additional benefits of sharing preprints: the ability to obtain feedback and offset publication bias.4….”

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….”

Cambridge Open Engage

“The collaborative platform to upload, share and advance your research

Cambridge Open Engage is the new early content platform from Cambridge University Press, designed to provide researchers with the space and resources to connect and collaborate with their communities, and rapidly disseminate early research. The platform is currently under development using a co-creation approach and we’re inviting researchers to actively input to help us shape the features and functionality….”


“Open Engineering [openENGR] is a nonprofit organization for the promotion of open practices in the engineering field. We are working towards increased awareness of open practices as well as providing tools to better enable engineers to be more open. We also provide resources and trainings that allow engineers to develop open workflows and participate more fully in the open dissemination of engineering knowledge.

engrXiv (Engineering Archive) is the eprint server for engineering. Dedicated to the dissemination of engineering knowledge quickly and efficiently, engrXiv is partnered with the Center for Open Science to build a free, open access, open source archive for engineering research and design. The initiative responds to growing recognition of the need for faster, open sharing of research and design on a truly open access platform for all engineering disciplines. Papers on engrXiv will be permanently available and free to the public. Learn more….”