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PLoS Biol. 2019 Feb 21;17(2):e3000151. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000151. eCollection 2019 Feb.

On the value of preprints: An early career researcher perspective.

Author information

1
Institute for Computational Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
2
Center of Agronomic Research, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (IPAVE-CIAP-INTA), Córdoba, Argentina.
3
Department of Bioengineering, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
4
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States of America.
5
Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Acton, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
6
Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Oeiras, Portugal.

Abstract

Peer-reviewed journal publication is the main means for academic researchers in the life sciences to create a permanent public record of their work. These publications are also the de facto currency for career progress, with a strong link between journal brand recognition and perceived value. The current peer-review process can lead to long delays between submission and publication, with cycles of rejection, revision, and resubmission causing redundant peer review. This situation creates unique challenges for early career researchers (ECRs), who rely heavily on timely publication of their work to gain recognition for their efforts. Today, ECRs face a changing academic landscape, including the increased interdisciplinarity of life sciences research, expansion of the researcher population, and consequent shifts in employer and funding demands. The publication of preprints, publicly available scientific manuscripts posted on dedicated preprint servers prior to journal-managed peer review, can play a key role in addressing these ECR challenges. Preprinting benefits include rapid dissemination of academic work, open access, establishing priority or concurrence, receiving feedback, and facilitating collaborations. Although there is a growing appreciation for and adoption of preprints, a minority of all articles in life sciences and medicine are preprinted. The current low rate of preprint submissions in life sciences and ECR concerns regarding preprinting need to be addressed. We provide a perspective from an interdisciplinary group of ECRs on the value of preprints and advocate their wide adoption to advance knowledge and facilitate career development.

Conflict of interest statement

I have read the journal’s policy and the authors of this manuscript declare no financial competing interests. Non-financial competing interests: All authors are members of the eLife Ambassadors program to promote use of preprints. Benjamin Schwessinger is a member of eLife early career advisory group. Steven J. Burgess, Edward Emmott, Humberto J Debat and Zach Hensel are members of the ASAPBio Ambassador program to promote the use of preprints.

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