Authors : Amanda Blatch-Jones, Alejandra Recio Saucedo, Beth Giddins
Preprints are open and accessible scientific manuscript or report that has not been submitted to a peer reviewed journal. The value and importance of preprints has grown since its contribution during the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funders and publishers are establishing their position on the use of preprints, in grant applications and publishing models.
However, the evidence supporting the use and acceptability of preprints varies across funders, publishers, and researchers. The purpose of this scoping review was to explore the current evidence on the use and acceptability of preprints by publishers, funders, and the research community throughout the research lifecycle.
A scoping review was undertaken with no study or language limits. The search strategy was limited to the last five years (2017-2022) to capture changes influenced by COVID-19 (e.g., accelerated use and role of preprints in research). The review included international literature, including grey literature, and two databases were searched: Scopus and Web of Science (24 August 2022).
379 titles and abstracts and 193 full text articles were assessed for eligibility. Ninety-eight articles met eligibility criteria and were included for full extraction. For barriers and challenges, 26 statements were grouped under four main themes (e.g., volume/growth of publications, quality assurance/trustworthiness, risks associated to credibility, and validation).
For benefits and value, 34 statements were grouped under six themes (e.g., openness/transparency, increased visibility/credibility, open review process, open research, democratic process/systems, increased productivity/opportunities).
Preprints provide opportunities for rapid dissemination but there is a need for clear policies and guidance from journals, publishers, and funders. Cautionary measures are needed to maintain the quality and value of preprints, paying particular attention to how findings are translated to the public. More research is needed to address some of the uncertainties addressed in this review.