Authors : Jonathan Tennant, Serge Bauin, Sarah James, Juliane Kant
In 1961, the USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a program called Information Exchange Groups, designed for the circulation of biological preprints, but this shut down in 1967 (Confrey, 1996; Cobb, 2017).
In 1991, the arXiv repository was launched for physics, computer science, and mathematics, which is when preprints (or ‘e-prints’) began to increase in popularity and attention (Wikipedia ArXiv#History; Jackson, 2002). The Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) was launched in 1994, and in 1997 Research Papers in Economics (Wikipedia RePEc) was launched.
In 2008, the research network platforms Academia.edu and ResearchGate were both launched and allowed sharing of research papers at any stage. In 2013, two new biological preprint servers were launched, bioRxiv (by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) and PeerJ Preprints (by PeerJ) (Wikipedia BioRxiv; Wikipedia PeerJ).
Between these major ongoing initiatives were various, somewhat less-successful attempts to launch preprint servers, including Nature Precedings (folded in April 2012) and Netprints from the British Medical Journal (Wikipedia Nature Precedings; BMJ, 1999).
Now, a range of innovative services, organisations, and platforms are rapidly developing around preprints, prompting this overview of the present ecosystem on behalf of Knowledge Exchange.