Have unanswered questions about preprints?
A preprint is a version of a scientific manuscript posted to a public server prior to peer review or formal publication in a scholarly journal. It is often the same manuscript submitted to a journal for peer review.
There are a number of reasons to post work as a preprint including (but not limited to):
- Preprints allow rapid communication of research to the scientific community.
- Comments from the wider community can improve a manuscript prior to submitting to a journal, or while making revisions.
- Authors can stake primacy and intellectual claim to methods, results and ideas contained within a paper.
- Preprints are citable and can accrue citations while the research simultaneously goes through the peer review process.
When submitting research to PLOS, authors are offered the opportunity to “opt in” to having PLOS post their manuscript and figures to the bioRxiv preprint server. PLOS will then screen these according to bioRxiv’s posting criteria. Those that pass screening, are sent directly to bioRxiv and will be publicly available as a preprint in a few days.
PLOS are only able to post preprints at the point of initial submission to a PLOS journals. Unfortunately, we are unable to send revised manuscripts or transferred submissions to bioRxiv.
Yes, you are encouraged to update your preprint with the most up-to-date version as your manuscript evolves and improves.
To make changes to a preprint PLOS has posted to bioRxiv on your behalf, you will need to register for a bioRxiv account using the same email address associated with your Editorial Manager account.
Yes. Even if you do not opt in to PLOS posting your manuscript to bioRxiv, we encourage to you to submit your manuscript to a preprint server directly.
If your manuscript does not relate to the life sciences, and is therefore out of scope for bioRxiv, you may want to consider posting on one of the following alternative servers:
Great! PLOS fully supports authors posting directly on preprint servers.
You are also able to submit your manuscript to PLOS journals directly from bioRxiv and medRxiv. To do so, log into your author area on either preprint server and click “Submit Preprint to a Journal or Peer Review Service”. Then simply select the PLOS journal you wish to send your research to and click Submit.
Once a preprint is publicly available it becomes a permanent part of the scientific record and cannot be removed. However, it is possible to revise the manuscript with the most recent version at any time prior to publication in a journal. When the final article is published the two versions are linked, providing insight into the evolution of your manuscript.
Yes, preprints are a citable part of the scientific record. All preprints are given a permanent DOI, which should be used when adding to the reference list of a manuscript. Please see the individual journal Submission Guidelines pages for details on how to format preprints as references.
PLOS applies a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to all our published articles, and preprints posted through PLOS are no different. Creative Commons licenses and legal tools help break down the barriers to sharing by communicating rights and permissions up front. A permissive license such as CC BY allows innovative reuse of content and signals early intent regarding how much a researcher wants to share their work.
This simple, 1-page infographic can be helpful in explaining at a glance he differences in licensing choices for preprints.
ASAPbio has a comprehensive list of responses specifically on this topic. Being scooped due to preprinting your research is unlikely, and indeed there is likely be to greater protection and overall fairness in establishing credit for work by submitting both to a preprint server (for fair and timely disclosure) and to a journal (for validation by peer review), as discussed below.
The vast majority of journals accept submissions that have already been posted on a preprint server, however there are a few that do not. There is a list of academic journals by preprint policy available on Wikipedia, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this page.
Once your article has been published, the preprint will automatically display a link to published version at the journal where is was accepted. Manuscripts published by PLOS will also have a link back to the preprint so it is possible to view previous iterations of the work.
Q: What is the embargo policy for preprints?
All PLOS articles, including papers previously posted as preprints, are under embargo until 2 p.m. Eastern Time, USA, on the date of publication.
Our embargoes enable authors to achieve accurate, high-quality media coverage which disseminates their peer-reviewed research to non-expert readers. They ensure that peer-reviewed published articles are accessible to everyone when first reported in the media.
Once your research has been accepted and assigned a publication date, it is subject to embargo. You may discuss your research under embargo with journalists and other members of the media, and you should inform journalists of the embargo in all your communications. We discourage actively seeking publicity for your research before that point. If you do choose to discuss your research at the preprint stage, you should stress that your work is still undergoing peer review and you may not disclose the journal where the work is under consideration.
Discussion of research prior to publication, whether in the scientific community or in the media, will not affect editorial decisions to publish work in a PLOS journal. However, prior coverage in the media may affect if and how PLOS promotes that research at the time of publication.
If your manuscript was posted to bioRxiv via the PLOS preprint posting service, then we will be notified of any comments left on the preprint. If the feedback is relevant to the scientific content of the manuscript, and the manuscript is under consideration at PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases or PLOS Pathogens, PLOS will pass the comments to the editor handling peer review, who may wish to use them when making their decision.