What are Preprints and Why Do We Need Them?

The peer review process for journal articles is slow. It can take several months or even years for a manuscript to be reviewed and revised, sometimes requiring multiple journal submissions, reviews, revisions, and additional experiments or analysis. Meanwhile, the scientific results contained in the manuscript are undiscoverable.

A preprint is a manuscript prepared for publication as a journal article that gets shared prior to peer review by a journal. Publishing preprints enables the immediate sharing of research results so the searcher doesn't have to wait so long to find out about research that's already been done.

Preprint sharing has several advantages:

    • Speeds up sharing of new findings and makes them freely accessible
    • Helps scientists establish priority of work
    • Demonstrates work in progress to employers and funders
    • Opens up manuscripts to review and commentary from all readers (more on this topic)

A 2019 study also found that preprint posting increased citations and media mentions. Read more from ASAPbio about the values of preprints and the the main arguments against preprints Readers should be aware of the pre-peer review status when reading and citing preprints, just as they should look out for errors missed in peer reviewed articles.

See also Where can I find and publish preprints? and Which journals and funders allow preprints?

Visit our Getting Published page for more information or to connect with a scholarly communication expert.

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