What is a Preprint?

What is a Preprint?

Could you explain to me what a preprint is?

Here's a definition:


Preprints are release of a scientific paper before official publication in a journal.

The new thing is the preprint archives. The physicists have had arXiv for many years. When they finish a paper, they submit it to a journal and simultaneously to arXiv. It is posted to arXiv within a day or so according to a particular schedule they describe. This way the physics community learns about new work as soon as possible, it speeds up interactions. Eventually the paper gets properly reviewed and published in a journal.

Traditionally in biology journals would consider preprints to be "publication" and so if they found that you had put a paper into a preprint archive like arXiv, they would ban you from publishing that paper. Obviously this slows down the flow of information between scientists, but it does keep junk out. So it was dangerous to post preprints.

Fortunately this has changed recently. Most biology journals now allow preprints in archives:

Preprint servers for biology:

as you can see from these lists:

Journal lists for preprint archive information:

Besides arXiv is the newer bioRxiv for biology. arXiv has a number of mechanisms in place to keep out junk. The main one is that one has to be endorsed by someone who has already posted in arXiv. Vishnu Jejjala has done that, but it wasn't clear whether his expertise in specific fields of physics would carry over to our lattice paper. However, they also allow authors from known institutions to use an institutional email address; that may be why they accepted my posting of the lattice paper.

Another advantage is that when a preprint has been posted, the authors can claim priority. PLOS ONE encourages people to use the preprint server and you can automatically have your paper posted when you submit to PLOS. Likewise, bioRxiv will send your paper to a journal when you submit to them (that's what the list at https://www.biorxiv.org/submit-a-manuscript [lower right corner] is).

So the bottom line is that many journals in biology are now safe for preprint posting, but one would be wise to check the status of particular journal(s) one would like to be the final home of one's paper.

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origin:    2019 feb 15
updated: 2019 feb 15

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