Authors : Peter Eckmann, Anita Bandrowski
Preprints, versions of scientific manuscripts that precede peer review, are growing in popularity. They offer an opportunity to democratize and accelerate research, as they have no publication costs or a lengthy peer review process. Preprints are often later published in peer-reviewed venues, but these publications and the original preprints are frequently not linked in any way.
To this end, we developed a tool, PreprintMatch, to find matches between preprints and their corresponding published papers, if they exist. This tool outperforms existing techniques to match preprints and papers, both on matching performance and speed. PreprintMatch was applied to search for matches between preprints (from bioRxiv and medRxiv), and PubMed.
The preliminary nature of preprints offers a unique perspective into scientific projects at a relatively early stage, and with better matching between preprint and paper, we explored questions related to research inequity.
We found that preprints from low income countries are published as peer-reviewed papers at a lower rate than high income countries (39.6% and 61.1%, respectively), and our data is consistent with previous work that cite a lack of resources, lack of stability, and policy choices to explain this discrepancy.
Preprints from low income countries were also found to be published quicker (178 vs 203 days) and with less title, abstract, and author similarity to the published version compared to high income countries. Low income countries add more authors from the preprint to the published version than high income countries (0.42 authors vs 0.32, respectively), a practice that is significantly more frequent in China compared to similar countries.
Finally, we find that some publishers publish work with authors from lower income countries more frequently than others.