‘PeerJ PrePrints’ - a new Preprint Server for the Biological and Medical Sciences

Today, April 3rd 2013, we are very pleased to announce the launch of ‘PeerJ PrePrints’ an entirely new ‘preprint server’ for the Biological and Medical Sciences. With the launch of PeerJ PrePrints, the publication ecosystem of PeerJ is now complete.


There is a ‘long form’ guest blog post at Scientific American describing more of the background to this launch, but of course we wanted to note this milestone with an announcement here.

For an academic article, publication in a peer reviewed journal is simply the end point in what has typically been a lengthy process of drafts, comments from colleagues, and revisions. The physical sciences have, for a long time, circulated these drafts (or ‘preprints’) amongst their colleagues in a community-wide practice which culminated in the creation of the successful arXiv preprint server (similar examples in other fields include the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN), and Research Papers in Economics (RePEc)). However, despite the apparent benefits of rapid dissemination and early feedback, preprint servers have not taken off in the Biological or Medical sciences. Although there have been several experiments, for example by Nature Preceedings or the BMJ’s NetPrints.org (both of which have been closed down), the biological and medical fields have so far failed to embrace preprints in the same way that their physical sciences colleagues have done.

Despite this, it is our belief of that an increased awareness of the benefits of early and open sharing, combined with advances in the ease of online publishing, means that the time is right for the biological and medical sciences to finally take advantage of a preprint server dedicated to their fields.

This truly is a concept whose time has finally come (although as our long form post makes clear, it is at the same time a  concept which dates back to the earliest days of the scientific journal). Increasingly, we see examples of successful experiments in this space (F1000 Research and FigShare for example); we see an increasing number of bioscientists submitting work to arXiv (despite the fact that it is not intended to be a natural venue for their research); we see that Open Access, and the associated benefits of open and early sharing are increasingly being understood by academia; and finally we hear from a lot of scientists who are now looking for a suitable preprint venue for their work.

With the launch of PeerJ PrePrints, authors now have a venue where they can experience an end-to-end publication process for their journal articles. Authors can submit their early drafts to PeerJ PrePrints, gain feedback, issue revisions, and then when they are ready they can submit that article to the PeerJ journal for peer review and ultimate publication in a formal, peer-reviewed journal. By doing so, authors can establish their priority, seek wider feedback, distribute their work in advance of formal publication and develop a stronger narrative – all of which will ultimately benefit the distribution of scientific knowledge.

All PeerJ PrePrints receive a permanent, stable identifier (a Digital Object Identifier issued via EZID and resolving via the normal routes) and are formally archived for long term preservation using CLOCKSS. In addition, rich metadata (to the extent that is it supplied by the author) is made available, enhancing discoverability and text mining. All preprints have their alt-metrics tracked (by Impact Story, as well as with detailed usage data), and the site will soon support author comments and versioning.

Other than passing a basic vetting process, PeerJ PrePrints are not peer reviewed, and so should not be viewed as a formal publication. When the author is ready, their PeerJ PrePrint submission can be ‘transferred’ to the PeerJ journal, for formal peer review and ultimate publication as a peer-reviewed ‘version of record’. Publication of  a preprint in Peerj PrePrints is not a prerequisite for a PeerJ publication (nor vice versa).

All PeerJ PrePrints publications are issued under a Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 license and publication in PeerJ PrePrints is free for all PeerJ Members. ‘Basic’, ‘Enhanced’ and ‘Investigator’ Members can publish an unlimited number of preprints per year, whilst ‘Free’ Members can publish one per year, as detailed at: https://peerj.com/pricing/

PeerJ PrePrint ‘Instructions for Authors’ can be found at https://peerj.com/about/preprints/scope-and-instructions/ and our PeerJ PrePrint ‘Policies and Guidelines’ are at https://peerj.com/about/preprints/policies-and-procedures/

Authors wishing to experience the future of publishing can now submit PeerJ PrePrint articles at https://peerj.com/preprints and they can submit PeerJ journal articles, for formal peer review, at https://peerj.com/

The PeerJ Team



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