The Case for Open Preprints in Biology. Desjardins-Proulx, P.; White, E. P.; Adamson, J. J.; Ram, K.; Poisot, T.; and Gravel, D. 11(5):e1001563+.
The Case for Open Preprints in Biology [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Biologists should submit their preprints to open servers, a practice common in mathematics and physics, to open and accelerate the scientific process. [Excerpt: Introduction] Public preprint servers allow authors to make manuscripts publicly available before, or in parallel to, submitting them to journals for traditional peer review. The rationale for preprint servers is fundamentally simple: to make the results of research available to the scientific community as soon as possible, instead of waiting until the peer-review process is fully completed. Sharing manuscripts using preprint servers has numerous advantages, including: [::1] rapid dissemination of work-in-progress to a wider audience; [::2] immediate visibility of the research output for early-career scientists; [::3] improved peer review by encouraging feedback from the entire research community; and [::4] a fair and straightforward way to establish precedence. [\n] Open preprint servers offer a great opportunity for open science, especially if the community embraces the idea of discussing preprints. Initiatives like Haldane's Sieve (http://haldanessieve.org/), a new blog discussing arXiv papers in population genetics, can help make arXiv attractive for scientists looking to promote their work [1]. These initiatives are important to fully exploit the potential of open preprint servers. Posting preprints online increases the community of available informal peer reviewers, and uses the internet for its original community-building purposes. [\n] Preprints began to gain popularity 20 years ago with the advent of arXiv, an open preprint server widely used in physics and mathematics [2]. Preprints are also integral to the culture of other scientific fields. Paul Krugman noted that, in economics, the ” traditional model of submit, get refereed, publish, and then people will read your work broke down a long time ago. In fact, it had more or less fallen apart by the early 80 s” [3]. In addition to a section on arXiv, economists have the RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) initiative, which aims to create an archive of working papers, manuscripts, and book chapters. [\n] Despite the success of this approach in other fields, most manuscripts in biology are not posted to preprint servers and are therefore not seen by more than a handful of other scientists prior to publication. In this article, we highlight the advantages of open preprint servers for both scientists and publishers, discuss the preprint policies of major publishers in biology, and describe the main options to publish preprints (Box 1, Table 1). [...] [Conclusion] The ongoing discussions on the publication process, peer review, and alternative publication models are all symptoms of the current uneasiness with the ever-growing obsession with bibliographic metrics such as the impact factor [17]. Researchers are pressured to orient their publication strategy to maximize their number of publications and total citations. A well-known consequence is to submit manuscripts first to the most prestigious journals, and then resubmit to ” lower level” journals as they are rejected. The numerous negative impacts of such behavior have been discussed in depth [6] and include a long delay between the time a manuscript is finished and its publication. Research activities and the publication process are drifting away from their fundamental objective, namely the diffusion of novel scientific discoveries. [\n] Developing a preprint culture in biology will not solve all problems with the current publication process. However, it might significantly reduce its negative consequences. The role of peer review is to judge the scientific quality of a study. It is the first barrier against the fraudulent and poor quality science that could impede scientific progress. In practice, the peer-review system is not only used to evaluate scientific quality but also to judge pertinence. On the other hand, preprints are not filtered, neither for their quality nor their pertinence. Widespread adoption of preprint servers has the potential to shift the diffusion strategy: journals would remain important to validate publications, but the relevance of a study should only be judged by many more readers than the typical two-four anonymous reviewers. With a shift in the diffusion strategy, the role of traditional journals and their editors would be to showcase scientific discoveries for specialized readership. [\n] Making publication easier can lead to the proliferation of studies of uneven quality. A trade-off between the intensity of the peer-review filtering and the benefits to science has been hypothesized [18]. With increasingly stringent peer review, the quality of published papers can improve at the cost of an increased load on authors and reviewers and greater delays for publication. Preprints are simply bypassing this model for what we believe is the progress of science: they speed up the dissemination of scientific discoveries and put on readers' shoulders the responsibility to judge originality and pertinence.
@article{desjardins-proulxCaseOpenPreprints2013,
  title = {The Case for Open Preprints in Biology},
  author = {Desjardins-Proulx, Philippe and White, Ethan P. and Adamson, Joel J. and Ram, Karthik and Poisot, Timothée and Gravel, Dominique},
  date = {2013-05},
  journaltitle = {PLoS Biology},
  volume = {11},
  pages = {e1001563+},
  issn = {1545-7885},
  doi = {10.1371/journal.pbio.1001563},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001563},
  abstract = {Biologists should submit their preprints to open servers, a practice common in mathematics and physics, to open and accelerate the scientific process.

[Excerpt: Introduction]

Public preprint servers allow authors to make manuscripts publicly available before, or in parallel to, submitting them to journals for traditional peer review. The rationale for preprint servers is fundamentally simple: to make the results of research available to the scientific community as soon as possible, instead of waiting until the peer-review process is fully completed. Sharing manuscripts using preprint servers has numerous advantages, including: [::1] rapid dissemination of work-in-progress to a wider audience; [::2] immediate visibility of the research output for early-career scientists; [::3] improved peer review by encouraging feedback from the entire research community; and [::4] a fair and straightforward way to establish precedence.

[\textbackslash n] Open preprint servers offer a great opportunity for open science, especially if the community embraces the idea of discussing preprints. Initiatives like Haldane's Sieve (http://haldanessieve.org/), a new blog discussing arXiv papers in population genetics, can help make arXiv attractive for scientists looking to promote their work [1]. These initiatives are important to fully exploit the potential of open preprint servers. Posting preprints online increases the community of available informal peer reviewers, and uses the internet for its original community-building purposes.

[\textbackslash n] Preprints began to gain popularity 20 years ago with the advent of arXiv, an open preprint server widely used in physics and mathematics [2]. Preprints are also integral to the culture of other scientific fields. Paul Krugman noted that, in economics, the ” traditional model of submit, get refereed, publish, and then people will read your work broke down a long time ago. In fact, it had more or less fallen apart by the early 80 s” [3]. In addition to a section on arXiv, economists have the RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) initiative, which aims to create an archive of working papers, manuscripts, and book chapters.

[\textbackslash n] Despite the success of this approach in other fields, most manuscripts in biology are not posted to preprint servers and are therefore not seen by more than a handful of other scientists prior to publication. In this article, we highlight the advantages of open preprint servers for both scientists and publishers, discuss the preprint policies of major publishers in biology, and describe the main options to publish preprints (Box 1, Table 1). [...]

[Conclusion]

The ongoing discussions on the publication process, peer review, and alternative publication models are all symptoms of the current uneasiness with the ever-growing obsession with bibliographic metrics such as the impact factor [17]. Researchers are pressured to orient their publication strategy to maximize their number of publications and total citations. A well-known consequence is to submit manuscripts first to the most prestigious journals, and then resubmit to ” lower level” journals as they are rejected. The numerous negative impacts of such behavior have been discussed in depth [6] and include a long delay between the time a manuscript is finished and its publication. Research activities and the publication process are drifting away from their fundamental objective, namely the diffusion of novel scientific discoveries.

[\textbackslash n] Developing a preprint culture in biology will not solve all problems with the current publication process. However, it might significantly reduce its negative consequences. The role of peer review is to judge the scientific quality of a study. It is the first barrier against the fraudulent and poor quality science that could impede scientific progress. In practice, the peer-review system is not only used to evaluate scientific quality but also to judge pertinence. On the other hand, preprints are not filtered, neither for their quality nor their pertinence. Widespread adoption of preprint servers has the potential to shift the diffusion strategy: journals would remain important to validate publications, but the relevance of a study should only be judged by many more readers than the typical two-four anonymous reviewers. With a shift in the diffusion strategy, the role of traditional journals and their editors would be to showcase scientific discoveries for specialized readership.

[\textbackslash n] Making publication easier can lead to the proliferation of studies of uneven quality. A trade-off between the intensity of the peer-review filtering and the benefits to science has been hypothesized [18]. With increasingly stringent peer review, the quality of published papers can improve at the cost of an increased load on authors and reviewers and greater delays for publication. Preprints are simply bypassing this model for what we believe is the progress of science: they speed up the dissemination of scientific discoveries and put on readers' shoulders the responsibility to judge originality and pertinence.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-12343441,~to-add-doi-URL,free-access,free-scientific-knowledge,open-access,open-science,peer-review,post-publication-peer-review,preprints,scientific-knowledge-sharing},
  number = {5}
}
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