The following articles are curated by ASAPbio; please let us know about any important articles covering the history of preprinting, adoption rates and/or impact on science communication that are not already in this list.

Update June 25, 2019: We have started tagging online content that describes the impact of preprints on science and/or science communication as we discover it using ‘preprints-asapbio’ on public Hypothesis — please join in! Once read, we add a summary of relevant and appropriate content on this page.

Overviews on preprinting

The underlying problem: speed of communication

  • A Need to Accelerate Communication in Biology. Ron Vale’s 2015 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

  • 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.
  • 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.

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 adoption and impact of preprints

Progress at preprint servers

  • bioRxiv: the preprint server for biology. bioRxiv shares information about the policies and practices at the server and data on the first six years of the server, including numbers of preprints (total, by discipline, country, institution and versions), usage (views, downloads), outcomes (journal publication rates and venues), and user behaviours (timing of preprint posting, licensing choice, authoring tools, commenting), motivations and benefits. They provide an API for accessing preprint metadata and usage data at http://api.biorxiv.org/. Available as a preprint in bioRxiv (2019-11-06)
  • Quantifying the Growth of Preprint Services Hosted by the Center for Open Science. A quantitative exploration of growth and usage at 9 most-used English-language COS preprint servers. Published in Publications (2019-06-17); preprinted in OSF Preprints (2019-04-29)

Visibility and publication outcomes

  • Trends in Preprints (PLOS Blog): “Preprints that have gone on to be published at PLOS receive a first decision from the editors and average of 4.4 days earlier than non-preprinted manuscripts and time to publication is even faster, coming in 8 days earlier. So far in 2019, these timings have been even more pronounced, where time to publication for preprinted manuscripts was on average 19 days faster than non-preprinted research.” https://blogs.plos.org/plos/2019/10/trends-in-preprints/ (2019-10-08)
  • The effect of bioRxiv preprints on citations and altmetrics. Journal articles that were preprinted (posted to bioRxiv before 2018) gain 1.5x more citations than those that were not preprinted. Available as a preprint in bioRxiv (2019-06-22)
  • 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. Published in eLife (2019-04-24); preprinted in bioRxiv (2019-01-13)
  • 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. Published in JAMA (2018-01-23)

Quality of reporting

  • 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)
  • 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) 

Other aspects we are interested in

  • Impact of preprints on career progression, funding success
  • Adoption of preprints (both submission and use of) by defined communities and across demographics