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.