What is a preprint? and why you should probably be sharing yours


  • A preprint is a research manuscript before formal peer review and publication.
  • Pretty much all of the mos important editing companies / journals allow preprints.
  • Sharing preprints helps promoting open science and increases your research visibility and impact.

What is a preprint?

A preprint is simply your research piece (e.g. manuscript of a paper or a chapter) before formal peer review and publication.

Why should you share a preprint online then?

  • Most editing companies / academic journals keep publications with restricted access behind paywalls.
  • It takes several months (often over a year) between the time you submit your manuscript and the time it eventually gets published online.

Sharing your preprint online addresses both of these problems. It will make your study open access and immediately available to anyone at the distance of a click. Another advantage is that preprint servers assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to each preprint. With a DOI, your study can get properly cited and it becomes visible for searching engines like Google Scholar without having to wait so long for editorial decisions.

Where can I share my preprint?

There are several platforms to share preprints. I’ve used OSF and SocArXiv several times and I would highly recommend them. There are many others options such as arXiv and medRxiv that cater to different fields like hard sciences and medical sciences.

Do journals allow preprints?

Are journals Ok with you sharing a preprint? I’m glad you asked. Pretty much all of them allow you to share preprints before your journal submission. Here are the ‘terms and policies’ of some of the most important editing companies saying it’s Ok.

Any downsides?

Having a preprint online makes it easier for reviewers to spot your identity. However, even without preprints, it’s usually not that difficult to determine authors’ identity these days because a study would probably have been presented already at conferences or online seminars. Unless in very particular cases, I don’t think this is a strong reason to stop one from sharing a preprint.

Takeaway message

In summary, sharing preprints helps promoting open science and increases your research visibility and impact. There are lots of great and free preprint server options and journals. Most editing companies / journals allow preprints.

ps. 1: SSRN used to be one of most important preprint servers in the social sciences. However, they were bought by Elsevier in 2016.

ps. 2: What about ResearchGate or Academia.edu? They are really not preprint servers. They are commercial social networking websites for academics. Personally, I’m not a big fan but they can be useful publicizing your work.

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