In academic publishing, a preprint is a version of a scholarly or scientific paper that precedes publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journal. The preprint may persist, often as a non-typeset version available free, after a paper is published in a journal.


Publication of manuscripts in a peer-reviewed journal often takes weeks, months or even years from the time of initial submission, owing to the time required by editors and reviewers to evaluate and critique manuscripts, and the time required by authors to address critiques. The need to quickly circulate current results within a scholarly community has led researchers to distribute documents known as preprints, which are manuscripts that have yet to undergo peer review. They may be considered as grey literature. The immediate distribution of preprints allows authors to receive early feedback from their peers, which may be helpful in revising and preparing articles for submission.

Since 1991, preprints have increasingly been distributed electronically on the Internet, rather than as paper copies. This has given rise to massive preprint databases such as and to institutional repositories.

In some journals, posting preprints may disqualify the research from submission for publication due to the Ingelfinger Rule. The majority of publishers however do allow work to be published to preprint servers before submission while others do not and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.[1]

In 2016, several new preprint servers were proposed by Crossref, Centre for Open Science and ASAPbio.[2][3][4]

Stages of printing

While a preprint is an article that has not yet undergone peer review, a postprint is an article which has been peer reviewed in preparation for publication in a journal. Both the preprint and postprint may differ from the final published version of an article. Preprints and postprints together are referred to as e-prints or eprints.[5]

The word reprint refers to hard copies of papers that have already been published; reprints can be produced by the journal publisher, but can also be generated from digital versions (for example, from an electronic database of peer-reviewed journals, such as EBSCOhost), or from eprints self-archived by their authors in their institutional repositories.

Tenure and promotion

In academia, preprints are not likely to be weighed heavily when a scholar is evaluated for tenure or promotion, unless the preprint becomes the basis for a peer-reviewed publication.[6]

Servers by field


Authorea was launched in 2012 as a collaborative writing platform used by researchers to write, cite, collaborate, host and post their articles. The site is the only preprint server that displays manuscripts as HTML with interactive figures and hosted data.

PeerJ PrePrints is a free preprint server operated by PeerJ. Articles submitted undergo a basic screening process but are not peer-reviewed. Commenting is allowed by any registered user, and download and pageview data are supplied. All articles are published with a CC-BY license. As of September 2016, 2,439 articles have been made available.[7] Zenodo is a repository for research data that has been used also as preprint repository, because offers document preview and a DOI number for the submitted document. MDPI launched an additional preprint server in 2016.[8][9]

Physical sciences

The e-print archive arXiv (pronounced "archive") is one of the best-known preprint servers. It was created by Paul Ginsparg in 1991 at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the purpose of distributing theoretical high-energy physics preprints.[10] In 2001, moved to Cornell University and now encompasses the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics. Within the field of high-energy physics, the posting of preprints on arXiv is so common that many peer-reviewed journals allow submission of papers from arXiv directly, using the arXiv e-print number.

In some branches of physics, the arXiv database may serve as a focal point for the many criticisms made of the peer review process and peer-reviewed journals. In his column in Physics Today, April 1992, David Mermin described Ginsparg's creation as potentially "string theory's greatest contribution to science". About 8,000 preprints per month are uploaded to arXiv as of 2016.[11]

An engineering preprint server, engrXiv, was launched in 2016 by the Center for Open Science and administrated by the University of Wisconsin–Stout.[12] It is currently in development and uses a temporary email deposit system.[13]

Computer science

The ability to distribute manuscripts as preprints has had a great impact on computer science, particularly in the way that scientific research is disseminated in that field (see CiteSeer). The open access movement has tended to focus on distributed institutional collections of research, global harvesting, and aggregation through search engines and gateways such as OAIster, rather than a global discipline base such as arXiv. E-prints can now refer to any electronic form of a scholarly or scientific publication, including journal articles, conference papers, research theses or dissertations, because these usually are found in multidisciplinary collections, called open access repositories, or eprints archives.

Biological and chemical sciences

The biological sciences have lagged behind the physical sciences in their use of preprints. Based on the success of arXiv, bioRxiv was introduced in 2013, operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,[14][15] and ChemRxiv was announced in 2016 hosted by the American Chemical Society.[16] Articles undergo basic screening for offensive and/or non-scientific content but do not undergo a peer review process.[17] Between 2007–2012 Nature Publishing Group ran their own preprint server, Nature Precedings. It hosted manuscripts, posters, and unpublished observations.

Social science and humanities

One of the earlier preprint servers is PhilSci-Archive is a preprint archive launched in 2001 for all subfields of Philosophy of Science, hosted by the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh.[18]

An open archive of the social sciences. SocArXiv was formed in July 2016 by a group of sociologists, members of the academic library community, and their technology partner, the Center for Open Science, using the Open Science Framework. It is administratively housed at the University of Maryland and directed by Philip Cohen.[19] SocArXiv has a temporary email deposit system.[20] PsyArXiv is a similar preprint service for the psychological sciences which launched in 2016 by the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science and the Center for Open Science.[21][22]

The Social Science Research Network is a repository for both working papers and accepted papers, which shows download and citation data within the site for each stored paper. In May 2016, SSRN was acquired by Elsevier.[23]

See also


  1. "Taking the online medicine". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  2. "Getting ready to run with preprints, any day now – Crossref Blog". Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  3. "Creation of a Central Preprint Service for the Life Sciences | ASAPbio". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  4. "The Acceleration of Open Access | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  5. "Self-archiving FAQ". EPrints.
  6. Callaway, Ewen; Powell, Kendall (2016-02-18). "Biologists urged to hug a preprint". Nature. 530 (7590): 265–265. doi:10.1038/530265a.
  9. "Introducing Preprints: A Multidisciplinary Open Access Preprint Platform". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  10. Richard Van Noorden (December 30, 2014). "The arXiv preprint server hits 1 million articles". Nature. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  11. "Taking the online medicine". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  12. "engrXiv Blog | Announcing engrXiv, the eprint server for engineering". Retrieved 2016-08-11.
  13. "OSF | Temporary Home of engrXiv Presentations". Retrieved 2016-08-11.
  14. "Taking the online medicine". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  15. "All Articles | bioRxiv". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  16. Widener, Andrea. "ACS launches chemistry preprint server | Chemical & Engineering News". Retrieved 2016-08-11.
  18. "History". PhilSci-Archive. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  19. "Announcing the development of SocArXiv". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  20. "Why you should post your papers to SocArXiv". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  21. "OSF | Temporary Home of PsyArXiv Presentations". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  22. "Introducing PsyArXiv: a preprint service for psychological science – PsyArXiv Blog". 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  23. "SSRN—the leading social science and humanities repository and online community—joins Elsevier". Retrieved 2016-08-10.

External links

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