Accelerating scholarly communication – The transformative role of preprints

The preprints landscape is evolving rapidly, and the full impact of sharing articles in pre-review form remains to be seen. After publishing a slide deck entitled ‘Practices, drivers and impediments in the use of preprints‘ in spring 2019, we are now able to share our final report: ‘Accelerating scholarly communication – The transformative role of preprints‘.

Preprints (tentatively defined as versions of research papers typically prior to peer review and publication in a journal) have become more widespread in a number of disciplines over the last few years, partly to counter the slow pace of the traditional publishing process and partly to allow authors to reach a broader audience. Knowledge Exchange, in collaboration with Research Consulting, investigated this phenomenon in order to explore the current place of preprints in the scholarly communication process.

Please find below five take-away messages arising from our full report. You can also take a look at our peer-reviewed article on F1000Research.

  1. Early and fast dissemination, increased opportunities for feedback and openness are seen as the main benefits of preprints.
  2. The main concerns over preprints are the lack of quality assurance, media potentially reporting inaccurate research and journals rejecting articles if a preprint has been posted.
  3. Twitter has been playing a key enabling role in the current second wave of preprints and preprint servers. It also appears to be the main way researchers are exposed to preprints in the first place.
  4. It is not clear who will be responsible for posting preprints in the long-term
    – researchers or publishers? This will partly be affected by the availability of sustainable business models.
  5. Traditional academic journals might have to reframe their value proposition should preprints grow significantly in popularity in the future.

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