The rise of preprints in earth sciences

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Daniel Enrique Ibarra

The rate of science information’s spread has accelerated in recent years. In this context, it appears that many scientific disciplines are beginning to recognize the value and possibility of sharing open access (OA) online manuscripts in their preprint form.

Preprints are academic papers that are published but have not yet been evaluated by peers. They have existed in research at least since the 1960s and the creation of ArXiv in physics and mathematics. Since then, preprint platforms—which can be publisher- or community-driven, profit or not for profit, and based on proprietary or free and open source software—have gained popularity in many fields (for example, bioRxiv for the biological sciences).

Today, there are many platforms that are either disciplinary-specific or cross-domain, with exponential development over the past ten years. Preprints as a whole still make up a very small portion of scholarly publishing, but a large group of early adopters are testing out these value-adding tools across a much wider range of disciplines than in the past.

In this opinion article, we provide perspective on the three main options available for earth scientists, namely EarthArXiv, ESSOAr/ESS Open Archive and EGUsphere.