What is a preprint?
Preprints are manuscripts that have been posted online prior to undergoing peer-review and differ from published author manuscripts and published articles in this way. Most preprints are also submitted for traditional peer-review and publication in scholarly journals. Preprints are posted to preprint servers or repositories that are accessible to the public. It is important to note that content in a preprint may change upon peer-review.
Preprints are becoming more common for authors who want to share their research findings quickly and openly. Most authors release their pre-prints while their papers are going through the peer review stage to be subsequently published in a journal but doing so depends on the agreement you have with a publisher. Papers are reviewed by moderators, in contrast to peer review, then posted quickly for the public to access.
- Supports open, free, and early sharing of research results.
- Research is disseminated quickly, whereas peer-review can take a long time to complete.
- Researchers can gain credit early for their work and receive more citations.
- The community can review and provide feedback on the works instantly, providing greater scrutiny on the author’s research findings.
- Preprints may also provide a glimpse into research that did not work, which can enhance literature reviews.
- Preprints are multilingual and diverse.
- Preprints have not been peer reviewed.
- Retracted articles may linger in a preprint repository.
- Preprints should not be cited or quoted as if they have been through the peer-review process.
- Some of the people commenting on the preprint may not be sufficiently well-informed to do so in a meaningful way.
Accessing Preprint Servers
Check out the OpenDOAR repository of preprint servers, hosted by Sherpa Romeo
Where do I share preprints?
Where to share
You may be interested in sharing preprints, but don’t know where to post them. A good place to look is the OpenDOAR platform, a curated repository of reputable preprint servers. You can search by repository name, country, or subject area. The goal should be to post your research on a server where you are likely to find other engaged researchers and a community of practice.
- Check whether your target publication’s policy accepts previously posted preprints to their journals.
- Make sure that all authors consent to having their work published as a preprint.
- Check whether the preprint server allows comments and decide whether you are open to receiving feedback from the community.
- Confirm whether the preprint server allows you to share multiple versions.
- Find out whether the preprint has a DOI, and whether you can add a DOI from a published manuscript to a preprint.
Some funding agencies, such as the Tri-Agency, have Open Access requirements for your published manuscripts. Note that posting in preprint servers does not satisfy this Open Access requirement, whereas posting them in an institutional repository, such as UNB Scholar, will.
For unresolved questions on posting preprints or meeting Open Access requirements, please contact:
- Mike Nason, Scholarly Communications and Publishing Librarian, email@example.com
- Julie Morris, Collections Analysis/Bibliometrics Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org
Preprints as a Research Source
As a student, you may come upon novel research posted on preprint servers. It is okay to use this research, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Not everything posted on a preprint server is reputable. Research posted on preprint servers has not been peer-reviewed, therefore the methodologies used by the author may not be sound. Graduate Students, Postdocs, and PhD students may find using preprints interesting if they were to scrutinize the methodologies and findings found in the paper.
Preprints may undergo significant changes as they receive reviews and comments from community reviewers. In such a case, the author may revise their work and post a new copy which supersedes the old copy. It is also important to note that sometimes preprints are not retracted from the preprint server when an article is retracted or withdrawn from a journal.
You should cite all preprint articles you use as reference sources. Below is a list of common citation styles and how to appropriately cite a preprint.
Author(s). (Year). Preprint title. Repository. DOI or URL
Author(s). "Preprint Title." Database, year, URL. Date of access. Preprint.
In a bibliography:
Author. "Title." Preprint, submitted in Year or date submitted. URL.
In a note:
Author, "Title" (Preprint, submitted in Year or date submitted), number of the cited page, URL.