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Preprints: support from EMBO and big biology

A recent editorial from The EMBO Journal demonstrates the publisher’s support for preprints, a version of a manuscript that proceeds its publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Bernd Pulverer, Chief editor at the journal, discusses how preprints diminish the delay between discovery and dissemination of results, increase diversity of data and have opportunity to improve science publishing, stating that “preprints are one step towards an Open Science future”.

EMBO Press encourage the posting of primary research manuscripts on non-peer-reviewed preprint servers such as arXiv, bioRxiv and PeerJ Preprint before, or in parallel with, formal submission to the journal. Moreover, they offer publishing incentives, such as scooping protection from the day of posting a preprint version of a manuscript, provided the manuscript is submitted to the journal within 4 months of posting. EMBO Press hope this will particularly benefit younger scientists, where preprints can provide formal research documentation for grant or job applications.

Bernd acknowledges that “the jury is still out on how to best ensure preprints do not allow dissemination of misleading, ethically compromised, plagiarised, false, or outright dangerous information”. However, EMBO believe that preprints can ultimately improve the quality of peer-review, leading to the sharing of high-quality carefully peer-reviewed science alongside not peer-reviewed science.

For some, publishing preprints is already mandatory; the 4D Nucleome, a major research consortium funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), now requires that all manuscripts related to its programme are posted to an online preprint server ahead of peer review. The  Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is considering a similar policy.

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Summary by Louise Niven, DPhil from Aspire Scientific

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