Preprints at CIHR

What are preprints?

The term “preprint” refers to scientific manuscripts that have been deposited (typically through http upload) into secure, persistent, and freely available online platforms known as preprint servers.Footnote 1 Manuscript submissions to preprint servers are generally undertaken in advance of, or in tandem with submissions to scientific journals.

What are some the benefits of preprints?

Within the traditional journal publishing model, authors often wait many months from manuscript submission to final publication. While peer review feedback is a critical component of the journal model it requires a significant amount of time to develop, share and incorporate feedback, which increases the time it takes from submission to publication.

Preprints enable researchers to circulate their ideas, findings, and observations in a timely manner, rapidly sharing scientific results. The time between submission and posting of a manuscript to a preprint server is typically less than one week.

By submitting preprints, authors are able to engage their respective scientific communities, seeking critical feedback from a broader pool of peers than would normally be possible through the traditional peer review process. Preprints also offer a clear way of publicly tracking the development of a scientific draft from manuscript to its final published form.Footnote 2 Preprints can also help authors to establish priority of discovery in advance of the journal publication of their manuscript.  

For the majority of authors, preprints offer a way of sharing their work with the public that functions in tandem with journal submissions. As manuscripts submitted to journals are refined through incorporation of feedback from peer review committees, authors are encouraged to reflect those updates and improvements in their respective preprints.

While publication in scientific journals continues to be the primary means of sharing ideas, observations and discoveries, the upload of content to preprint servers does not, of necessity, require simultaneous submission to journals. Preprints offer several areas of opportunity for researchers who wish to distribute work that is not typically published in most journals. For example, preprints serve as an important mechanism for the distribution of negative research results, confirmatory results, reproducibility attempts, and numerous other types of scientific activities.  

What are some of the challenges and risk associated with preprints?

While many journals accept submissions of manuscripts that have been deposited in preprint servers, some journals have policies against accepting manuscripts that have preprint duplicates. One of the principal concerns about preprints is that they run the risk of publically disseminating invalid scientific findings.

As recognition and support for preprintsFootnote 3 as legitimate sources for the transmission of scientific knowledge increases, the importance of standards and best practices related to preprints, and preprint servers, must follow. CIHR and other funding agencies are working with key stakeholders to support the development of relevant resources and raise awareness of the role of preprints in the research enterprise.

CIHR and preprints

Since the early 2000’s, CIHR has recognized preprints as an important vehicle for the dissemination of research results. Preprints also contribute to the objectives and outcomes of the CIHR Health Research and Health-Related Data Framework

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