bioRxiv: the preprint server for biology

Authors : Richard Sever, Ted Roeder, Samantha Hindle, Linda Sussman, Kevin-John Black, Janet Argentine, Wayne Manos, John R. Inglis

The traditional publication process delays dissemination of new research, often by months, sometimes by years. Preprint servers decouple dissemination of research papers from their evaluation and certification by journals, allowing researchers to share work immediately, receive feedback from a much larger audience, and provide evidence of productivity long before formal publication.

Launched in 2013 as a non-profit community service, the bioRxiv server has brought preprint practice to the life sciences and recently posted its 64,000th manuscript.

The server now receives more than four million views per month and hosts papers spanning all areas of biology. Initially dominated by evolutionary biology, genetics/genomics and computational biology, bioRxiv has been increasingly populated by papers in neuroscience, cell and developmental biology, and many other fields.

Changes in journal and funder policies that encourage preprint posting have helped drive adoption, as has the development of bioRxiv technologies that allow authors to transfer papers easily between the server and journals.

A bioRxiv user survey found that 42% of authors post their preprints prior to journal submission whereas 37% post concurrently with journal submission. Authors are motivated by a desire to share work early; they value the feedback they receive, and very rarely experience any negative consequences of preprint posting.

Rapid dissemination via bioRxiv is also encouraging new initiatives that experiment with the peer review process and the development of novel approaches to literature filtering and assessment.

URL : bioRxiv: the preprint server for biology


The prehistory of biology preprints: a forgotten experiment from the 1960s

Author : Matthew Cobb

In 1961, the NIH began to circulate biological preprints in a forgotten experiment called the Information Exchange Groups (IEGs).

This system eventually attracted over 3600 participants and saw the production of over 2,500 different documents, but by 1967 it was effectively shut down by journal publishers’ refusal to accept articles that had been circulated as preprints.

This article charts the rise and fall of the IEGs and explores the parallels with the 1990s and the biomedical preprint movement of today.

URL : The prehistory of biology preprints: a forgotten experiment from the 1960s



Accelerating Scientific Publication in Biology

“Scientific publications enable results and ideas to be transmitted throughout the scientific community. The number and type of journal publications also have become the primary criteria used in evaluating career advancement. Our analysis suggests that publication practices have changed considerably in the life sciences over the past thirty years. Considerably more experimental data is now required for publication, and the average time required for graduate students to publish their first paper has increased and is approaching the desirable duration of Ph.D. training.

Since publication is generally a requirement for career progression, schemes to reduce the time of graduate student and postdoctoral training may be difficult to implement without also considering new mechanisms for accelerating communication of their work. The increasing time to publication also delays potential catalytic effects that ensue when many scientists have access to new information. The time has come for the life scientists, funding agencies, and publishers to discuss how to communicate new findings in a way that best serves the interests of the public and scientific community.”