Preprints: what is appropriate use?

Preprints: what is appropriate use? - Chris Winchester

10:35 AM - 11:10 AM

A preprint, as defined by the Committee on Publication Ethics, is “a scholarly manuscript posted by the author(s) in an openly accessible platform, usually before or in parallel with the peer review process”.1
Although preprints have been used extensively by physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists for over two decades, their use by biologists has been relatively recent, with bioRxiv, the preprint server for biology launched by Cold Harbor Spring Laboratory in 2013.2
Calls for the use of preprints in medicine have prompted much debate.3–5 In the summer of 2018, the Lancet journals began a 6-month trial assessing the use of preprints by medical researchers through the journals’ submission systems,6 and Europe PubMed Central began indexing preprints in its search results to help make them more widely discoverable.7 MedRxiv, the preprint server for medicine, is currently in its launch phase.8 The use of preprints by the pharmaceutical industry is at this time limited and predominantly restricted to basic science.9
As part of the 180-minute informative and interactive session, ‘Where is publishing going?’, we will present a background on preprints, and provide updates on the Lancet’s preprint pilot and the uptake of the medRxiv preprint server. In breakout groups, we will examine the arguments for and against the use of preprints in medicine with the overall aim of determining what is an appropriate use in this context.

  1. Committee on Publication Ethics. Discussion document on preprints. March 2018. Available at: Mar18.pdf (accessed 26 September 2018).
  2. Berg JM et al. Science 2016;352:899–901.
  3. Lauer MS, Krumholz HM, Topol EJ. Lancet 2015;386:2447–49.
  4. Tabor E. Lancet 2016;387:750.
  5. Maslove DM. JAMA 2018;319:443–44.
  6. Kleinert S, Horton R. Lancet 2018;391:2482–83.
  7. Towards a comprehensive literature search: Europe PMC now indexes preprints. July 2018. Available at: (accessed 26 September 2018).