Overviews on preprinting

The underlying problem: speed of communication

  • A Need to Accelerate Communication in Biology. Ron Vale’s article detailing changes in publication in biology over the past three decades and the potential benefits of the widespread use of preprints is now. Available at PNAS and previously released as a preprint on bioRxiv.
  • A Substantial Increase in Article Length also Noted in Applied Math and Economics. Articles in journals from the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics have increased significantly in length over time. Similar trends of increasing article length and authors have been observed for economic journals as well.

Historical perspectives

  • Harold Varmus’s 1999 essay on E-biomed. Many of the topics relevant to ASAPbio have been discussed in the biomedical community for many years.  For example, E-biomed, proposed by Harold Varmus in 1999, would have had some of the features of a modern preprint server. You can download the original proposal here (.docx format). More details on how the system evolved into PubMed Central are available here.
  • The prehistory of biology preprints: A forgotten experiment from the 1960s. Matthew Cobb describes the rise and fall of the Information Exchange groups, paper distribution networks that operated via photocopying and the postal service. Final version in PLOS Biology (2017-11-16) and a preprint (2017-08-22) in PeerJ Preprints.

Opinion pieces and calls to action

  • On the value of preprints: An early career researcher perspective. Sarvenaz Sarabipour and ASAPbio ambassadors — Humberto J. Debat, Edward Emmott, Steven J. Burgess, Benjamin Schwessinger, Zach Hensel — share their perspectives, as early-career researchers, on the value of preprints and advocate for their wide adoption to advance knowledge and facilitate career development. Final version in PLOS Biology (2019-02-19) and a preprint (2018-12-01) in  PeerJ Preprints.
  • NY Times Op-Ed calls for wider use of preprints. In their September 17, 2015 opinion piece, “Don’t Delay News of Medical Breakthroughs,” Eric Topol and Harlan Krumholz call for rapid publication of scientific results.

Research on the impact of preprints

Dissemination

  • Altmetric Scores, Citations, and Publication of Studies Posted as Preprints. Stylianos Serghiou & John PA Ioannidis found that published articles with a preprinted version (posted on bioRxiv between 2013 and 2017) had larger altmetric scores and citation counts than articles published without preprinting. Final version in JAMA (2018-01-23)
  • Tracking the popularity and outcomes of all bioRxiv preprints. An analysis by Rich Abdill and Ran Blekhman of papers posted to BioRxiv in its first five years. Available as a preprint in bioRxiv (2019-01-13)

Quality of reporting

  • Comparing Published Scientific Journal Articles to Their Pre-Print Versions. Martin Klein, Peter Broadwell, Sharon E. Farb and Todd Grappone found minimal differences between the text content of preprints in arXiv and bioRxiv compared to their published versions in journals. Available as a preprint in arXiv (2018-03-26) 
  • Comparing quality of reporting between preprints and peer-reviewed articles in the biomedical literature. Clarissa F. D. Carneiro, Victor G. S. Queiroz, Thiago C. Moulin and Olavo B. Amaral coordinated a team of evaluators to investigate adherence to reporting guidelines in a sample of preprints on bioRxiv and published articles in Pubmed: “peer-reviewed articles had, on average, higher quality of reporting than preprints, although this difference was small”. Available as a preprint in bioRxiv (2019-03-22)