Journal policies and practices

Many journals accept manuscripts that have been previously posted as preprints. You can find (and contribute to) a crowd-sourced list of journal policies on preprints on Wikipedia. Further policies on self-archiving can be found at SHERPA/RoMEO. Some journals go beyond simply allowing preprints, however.

Preprint editors

PLOS Genetics has recently added “preprint editors,” described in this article. One of these editors concisely explains the position below:

Inviting submissions from preprint servers

Several other journals report looking for papers on preprint servers.

For some time now we have been scanning new posts on bioRxiv to look for papers that we might want to invite into the journal, guaranteeing peer review.

– Louise Flintoft, editor of Genome Biology


Beyond this, the journal Biostatistics has “pre-reviewed” at least one paper, meaning that they coordinated peer review of a preprint without action taken by the author:

One week later (Feb 6th) I received an unexpected — indeed, quite astonishing — email, from the editors of Biostatistics. It said that they had seen my preprint, thought it could be suitable for Biostatistics, had had it reviewed by two referees (reports attached), and that they would like to offer conditional acceptance for publication in Biostatistics if I could satisfactorily address the referee concerns.

– Matthew Stevens

Extended scoop protection

EMBO Journal has long offered scoop protection – an assurance that any competing articles published after the submission date of a manuscript under consideration would not be “considered relevant to the editorial assessment” of the manuscript. In December 2016, they announced that this protection will also extend backwards to the date of preprint posting. More details can be found in their submission policy on preprint servers.

Link to previous versions

Biophysical Journal introduced a policy explicitly allowing readers to link their article to a previous preprint version.

“Now, to document and help readers trace the complete publication record, authors are invited to voluntarily provide a footnote for their BJ article referencing their preprint in bioRxiv or arXiv, including the DOI number and the date the initial manuscript was deposited.”


ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors)

On page 8 of their December 2016 recommendations, ICMJE has clarified that their recommendation against dual publication does not prevent consideration of preprints.