PLOS encourages authors to submit preprints before or upon submission to their journals, with supportive preprint policies (for example, at PLOS Biology), resources and information about preprints, direct submission options to bioRxiv and medRxiv from several PLOS journals, and preprint editors at PLOS Genetics. Every month, PLOS sends an opt-in email about ‘Articles from preprint to publication’ at PLOS featuring an author’s experience from that month’s published preprints. 

The experiences of preprint authors are a powerful resource when advocating for preprints. We have collated some preprint stories on our own page, and Ulrike Boehm, ASAPbio ambassador, continues to collect stories for WeSupportPreprints.wordpress.com. To retain the experiences shared in the PLOS preprints emails, we are archiving these author stories and share this content here with attribution to PLOS under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license. You can subscribe to PLOS emails here.

If you have information about authors’ and readers’ experiences using preprints in biology that you’re able to share with us, please email Naomi on naomi dot penfold at asapbio dot org or find us on twitter @ASAPbio_ or using #asapbio.

Trends in preprints (October 2019)

PLOS has shared trends in preprints since they partnered with bioRxiv in May 2018:

  • PLOS now facilitates the posting of over 250 preprints to bioRxiv per month, and this number is trending upwards; the number of author-posted preprints received at PLOS is also rising (~50 less per months than PLOS-posted ones)
  • The highest opt-in rates for PLOS-posted preprints are from authors in African countries
  • The publishing process is faster for preprinted submissions: preprints published at PLOS receive a first decision from the editors ~4.4 days earlier than non-preprinted research, and are published 8 days earlier (on average; in 2019 specifically, preprinted manuscripts have been published 19 days earlier)

See these stats in full at https://blogs.plos.org/plos/2019/10/trends-in-preprints/.

One year of preprints at PLOS (April 2019)

At the end of April 2019, PLOS celebrated their first-year anniversary since launching their preprint-posting partnership with bioRxiv by sharing these stats:

  • 2,500+ PLOS preprints on bioRxiv
  • 1,324,000+ abstract views for PLOS preprints on bioRxiv
  • 358,000+ PDF downloads for PLOS preprints on bioRxiv

Further information is available at the PLOS blog: https://blogs.plos.org/plos/2019/04/its-our-preprint-anniversary/.

Daniel Borch Ibsen, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

“We decided to publish our paper as a pre-print to enable other colleagues to comment on our paper before it was peer-reviewed and published. Compared to the usual process of waiting a long time before being able to share your work, publishing in a preprint really gave us the opportunity to quickly share our findings and make necessary changes if needed.”

AUTHOR OF Body mass index trajectories preceding first report of poor self-rated health: A longitudinal case-control analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Jeanne Kowalski-Muegge, LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin

“In cancer research, every second matters! Molecular data analysis has the power to discover new drug targets and repurpose existing drugs for new cancer application. The results from such an analysis that hold in them this type of power should be shared early and often.“

AUTHOR OF NOJAH: Not Just Another Heatmap for genome-wide cluster analysis

Konstantin Agladze, Laboratory of Biophysics of Excitable Systems, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Dolgoprudny, Russia

“What we are doing is cardiac tissue engineering. It helps us to create experimental models for the study of the most dangerous, potentially lethal cardiac arrhythmia. I believe that sharing results early with the scientific community on bioRxiv helps in the preparation of final research reports.”

AUTHOR OF Self-organization of conducting pathways explains electrical wave propagation in cardiac tissues with high fraction of non-conducting cells

Frank Schnorrer, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany, Aix Marseille University, CNRS, IBDM, Marseille, France

“I am a great fan of open access publishing. It is important to make our work accessible to everybody out there, ideally as soon as it is ready. Hence, I support bioRxiv and regularly upload our preprints… I feel it is the time to decide by ourselves when the results are ready to be released.”

Stijn Hawinkel, Department of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

“Sharing code through GitHub and preprints through bioRxiv provides researchers with the latest methodologies as early as possible… [and] the scientific community can provide researchers with useful feedback prior to publication.”

AUTHOR OF A unified framework for unconstrained and constrained ordination of microbiome read count data

Scott Eugene Lindner, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for Malaria Research, Pennsylvania State University, USA

“Posting a preprint to bioRxiv is extremely beneficial: it gets the results to our community faster so we can accelerate progress. It also clearly provides an initial metric of the interest in and impact of our findings. Coupled with publication in PLOS Pathogens and its rigorous review process, our colleagues can quickly benefit from, and have confidence in, the discoveries and our interpretations.”

AUTHOR OF Plasmodium male gametocyte development and transmission area critically regulated by the two putative deadenylases of the CAF1/CCR4/NOT complex

Alex Jordan, Laboratory of Animal Sociology, Department of Biology and Geosciences, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan, Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Konstanz, Germany

“[Posting a preprint to bioRxiv] was an important step for us to gauge the response from our peers before final publication. [Our short report] is a controversial study, not in terms of design or execution, but in terms of interpretation. It was therefore essential that all parties had access to the findings and could give feedback to us as authors.”

AUTHOR OF If a fish can pass the mark test, what are the implications for consciousness and self-awareness testing in animals?

Adam Kwiatkowski, Department of Cell Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

“I posted a preprint to bioRxiv when I submitted to PLOS Genetics because I wanted to share our story with scientific community. At submission, I believed we had a complete story that would interest researchers working on various aspects of adhesion biology. I knew that the story would likely develop further after peer review, but I wanted to share the core results with the community.”

AUTHOR OF Evolutionary rate covariation analysis of E-cadherin identifies Raskol as a regulator of cell adhesion and actin dynamics in Drosophila

Charlotte Herzeel, ExaScience Life Lab, IMEC, Leuven, Belgium

“Publishing a preprint is a great way to get feedback as early as possible from the community. We actually improved the final version of our paper not only based on the great reviews we received from the formal peer review process, but also based on the feedback we learned through Twitter, and other channels.”

AUTHOR OF elPrep 4: A multithreaded framework for sequence analysis