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.
- Early and fast dissemination, increased opportunities for feedback and openness are seen as the main benefits of preprints.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Traditional academic journals might have to reframe their value proposition should preprints grow significantly in popularity in the future.