Opinion: In Defense of Preprints | The Scientist Magazine®

“There are two important lessons here. First, the universal availability of the internet and social networks mean that this type of information can be easily disseminated independently of preprints. Second, peer-reviewed journals may not effectively function as gatekeepers: Raoult’s paper was published after alleged peer review despite its flaws and, as of today, still has not been retracted. Preprints provide an opportunity for the scientific community to discuss new work, and indeed many researchers pointed out the flaws in the Raoult manuscript in medRxiv’s comment section and elsewhere. Additionally, the “more-sober analysis” Mullins refers to showing “HCQ has no proven role” was itself a preprint posted to medRxiv in July 2020….

We and the other cofounders of medRxiv are experienced biomedical editors and thus well aware of the challenges presented by biomedical preprints. We recognize the need to balance their undoubted advantages (which have been particularly evident during the pandemic, when they have allowed researchers to quickly share information about promising research avenues and treatments) with the potential drawbacks. medRxiv papers go through extensive screening for dangerous material, and we have previously detailed the reasons for declining certain manuscripts out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile, as the growth of preprints on bioRxiv and medRxiv demonstrates, the scientific community is becoming acclimatized to a new norm in which research is available for discussion and comment prior to formal review….”

Preprint servers in lipidology current status and future role

Abstract:  Purpose of review 

Preprinting, or the sharing of non-peer reviewed, unpublished scholarly manuscripts, has exploded in all fields of science and medicine over the past 5 years. We searched the literature and evaluated the posting and uptake of preprint publications in the field of lipidology in bioRxiv and medRxiv servers. We also contacted the editorial offices of 20 journals that publish original research in lipidology to gauge their policies on preprints.


All 20 journals contacted indicated that they accepted preprints. As of 31 May 2021, 473 and 231 preprints in lipidology had been submitted to bioRxiv and medRxiv, respectively. About half of all lipidology preprints were related to cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, and/or metabolic diseases (CVMD) and their risk factors, but at least 12 other disease categories were also represented. 16.9% and 1.08% of medRxiv and bioRxiv preprints, respectively, were related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


All identified journals accept lipidology themed preprints for submission, removing any barriers authors may have had regarding preprinting. Based on growing experience with preprinting, this trend should encourage increased community feedback and facilitate higher quality lipidology research in the future.

bioRxiv & medRxiv; Communicating at the Speed of Science

“Preprint servers bioRxiv & medRxiv have experienced unprecedented growth and attention during these past 18 months as they have contributed to the scientific community’s collaborative response to the present international health crisis. The frequent reports in mass-media outlets alone, after January 2020, demonstrate that bioRxiv and medRxiv are becoming recognized Open Science digital repositories that are at the center of rapidly disseminating scientific research freely throughout the world.

Please join us on Oct 26th at 11am for our inaugural session during Open Access Week 2021 as the Harvard Library welcomes Richard Sever, Assistant Director Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press & Co-founder of the preprint servers bioRxiv and medRxiv. Dr. Sever will share his observations and reflections on the exponential growth and impact that preprints have had on advancing scientific communication during this unprecedented time.”

Editorial policy regarding the citation of preprints in the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP) – George – – British Journal of Pharmacology – Wiley Online Library

“Because of the increasing number of articles submitted to BJP over the past year and that cite preprint material, the Editor-In-Chief and Senior Editors with the full Editorial Board of BJP have undertaken a review of the issues and our discipline-relevant data to set policy on the issue of preprint citation for the Journal….

The discussion so far has highlighted the negative aspects of preprints, but it is important to be balanced in our considerations and to note that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of preprints has been viewed as a key factor in the break-neck speed with which the biomedical research community has shared research on insights regarding the biology and clinical features of the infection, resulting in the rapid and timely delivery of much needed therapeutic options (Else, 2020)….

An excellent example is the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial which showed the benefit of the simple and low-cost utility of dexamethasone that has saved many lives globally. The RECOVERY trial was published as a preprint on 22 June 2020 (Horby et al., 2020) and as a peer-reviewed article published as an epub in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 17th 2020 (RECOVERY collaborative group, 2021). Whilst it is highly likely that the preprint publication and sharing of the results saved lives during the short time between preprint posting and full publication, the data were made available to regulatory authorities and clinicians prior to full publication….



The Editorial Board of the BJP support the principles of preprinting. However, given the potential risks associated with allowing the citation of preprints, it is our collective view, supported by feedback received from the journal’s international Editorial Board, that BJP should take all reasonable steps to avoid perpetuating these risks….

We are aware that the issue of preprint citation is under discussion at COPE and that the British Pharmacological Society is establishing a working group to review this issue more broadly across its publications. Thus, the stated editorial position will be reviewed, and if solutions to the problems highlighted above emerge, we will revisit our policy….”

eLife announces new approach to publishing in medicine | For the press | eLife

eLife is excited to announce a new approach to peer review and publishing in medicine, including public health and health policy.

One of the most notable impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the desire to share important results and discoveries quickly, widely and openly, leading to rapid growth of the preprint server medRxiv. Despite the benefits of rapid, author-driven publication in accelerating research and democratising access to results, the growing number of clinical preprints means that individuals and institutions may act quickly on new information before it is adequately scrutinised.

To address this challenge, eLife is bringing its system of editorial oversight by practicing clinicians and clinician-investigators, and rigorous, consultative peer review to preprints. The journal’s goal is to produce ‘refereed preprints’ on medRxiv that provide readers and potential users with a detailed assessment of the research, comments on its potential impact, and perspectives on its use. By providing this rich and rapid evaluation of new results, eLife hopes peer-reviewed preprints will become a reliable indicator of quality in medical research, rather than journal impact factor.

A descriptive analysis of the data availability statements accompanying medRxiv preprints and a comparison with their published counterparts

Abstract:  Objective

To determine whether medRxiv data availability statements describe open or closed data—that is, whether the data used in the study is openly available without restriction—and to examine if this changes on publication based on journal data-sharing policy. Additionally, to examine whether data availability statements are sufficient to capture code availability declarations.


Observational study, following a pre-registered protocol, of preprints posted on the medRxiv repository between 25th June 2019 and 1st May 2020 and their published counterparts.

Main outcome measures

Distribution of preprinted data availability statements across nine categories, determined by a prespecified classification system. Change in the percentage of data availability statements describing open data between the preprinted and published versions of the same record, stratified by journal sharing policy. Number of code availability declarations reported in the full-text preprint which were not captured in the corresponding data availability statement.


3938 medRxiv preprints with an applicable data availability statement were included in our sample, of which 911 (23.1%) were categorized as describing open data. 379 (9.6%) preprints were subsequently published, and of these published articles, only 155 contained an applicable data availability statement. Similar to the preprint stage, a minority (59 (38.1%)) of these published data availability statements described open data. Of the 151 records eligible for the comparison between preprinted and published stages, 57 (37.7%) were published in journals which mandated open data sharing. Data availability statements more frequently described open data on publication when the journal mandated data sharing (open at preprint: 33.3%, open at publication: 61.4%) compared to when the journal did not mandate data sharing (open at preprint: 20.2%, open at publication: 22.3%).


Requiring that authors submit a data availability statement is a good first step, but is insufficient to ensure data availability. Strict editorial policies that mandate data sharing (where appropriate) as a condition of publication appear to be effective in making research data available. We would strongly encourage all journal editors to examine whether their data availability policies are sufficiently stringent and consistently enforced.

After the Pandemic: Has Medical Research Been Changed Forever? | MedPage Today

“medRxiv has been a terrific help to the scientific community during the pandemic. It has sped the communication of science and fostered interactions among scientists around the world. It is an open and rapid way to share pre-peer reviewed studies. For the most part, people seemed to have quickly realized that this is science in progress, and not to take it as truth — but as work open for comment. It has embedded the preprint culture in a way that I hope will be sustained and spread.

I am not aware of any harm that has accrued and I am aware that many good interactions have resulted from the sharing of the information. And it is certainly better than science by press release alone. Also, importantly, our screening process is intended to protect the public’s interest — safeguarding privacy, promoting registration, requiring ethics approval, and ensuring that dangerous claims are avoided….”

The evolving role of preprints in the dissemination of COVID-19 research and their impact on the science communication landscape

Abstract:  The world continues to face a life-threatening viral pandemic. The virus underlying the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused over 98 million confirmed cases and 2.2 million deaths since January 2020. Although the most recent respiratory viral pandemic swept the globe only a decade ago, the way science operates and responds to current events has experienced a cultural shift in the interim. The scientific community has responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing over 125,000 COVID-19–related scientific articles within 10 months of the first confirmed case, of which more than 30,000 were hosted by preprint servers. We focused our analysis on bioRxiv and medRxiv, 2 growing preprint servers for biomedical research, investigating the attributes of COVID-19 preprints, their access and usage rates, as well as characteristics of their propagation on online platforms. Our data provide evidence for increased scientific and public engagement with preprints related to COVID-19 (COVID-19 preprints are accessed more, cited more, and shared more on various online platforms than non-COVID-19 preprints), as well as changes in the use of preprints by journalists and policymakers. We also find evidence for changes in preprinting and publishing behaviour: COVID-19 preprints are shorter and reviewed faster. Our results highlight the unprecedented role of preprints and preprint servers in the dissemination of COVID-19 science and the impact of the pandemic on the scientific communication landscape.




Submissions and Downloads of Preprints in the First Year of medRxiv | Medical Journals and Publishing | JAMA | JAMA Network

“Preprint servers offer a means to disseminate research reports before they undergo peer review and are relatively new to clinical research.1-4 medRxiv is an independent, not-for-profit preprint server for clinical and health science researchers that was introduced in June 2019.4 A central question was whether there would be adoption of a new approach to dissemination of pre–peer-review science. Now, a year after its establishment, we report medRxiv’s submissions, posts, and downloads.”

Preprint Servers in Kidney Disease Research | American Society of Nephrology

Abstract:  Preprint servers, such as arXiv and bioRxiv, have disrupted the scientific communication landscape by providing rapid access to research before peer review. medRxiv was launched as a free online repository for preprints in the medical, clinical, and related health sciences in 2019. In this review, we present the uptake of preprint server use in nephrology and discuss specific considerations regarding preprint server use in medicine. Distribution of kidney-related research on preprint servers is rising at an exponential rate. Survey of nephrology journals identified that 15 of 17 (88%) are publishing original research accepted submissions that have been uploaded to preprint servers. After reviewing 52 clinically impactful trials in nephrology discussed in the online Nephrology Journal Club (NephJC), an average lag of 300 days was found between study completion and publication, indicating an opportunity for faster research dissemination. Rapid review of papers discussing benefits and risks of preprint server use from the researcher, publisher, or end user perspective identified 53 papers that met criteria. Potential benefits of biomedical preprint servers included rapid dissemination, improved transparency of the peer review process, greater visibility and recognition, and collaboration. However, these benefits come at the risk of rapid spread of results not yet subjected to the rigors of peer review. Preprint servers shift the burden of critical appraisal to the reader. Media may be especially at risk due to their focus on “late-breaking” information. Preprint servers have played an even larger role when late-breaking research results are of special interest, such as during the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Coronavirus disease 2019 has brought both the benefits and risks of preprint servers to the forefront. Given the prominent online presence of the nephrology community, it is poised to lead the medicine community in appropriate use of preprint servers.


Preprinting a pandemic: the role of preprints in the COVID-19 pandemic | bioRxiv

Abstract:  The world continues to face an ongoing viral pandemic that presents a serious threat to human health. The virus underlying the COVID-19 disease, SARS-CoV-2, has caused over 3.2 million confirmed cases and 220,000 deaths between January and April 2020. Although the last pandemic of respiratory disease of viral origin swept the globe only a decade ago, the way science operates and responds to current events has experienced a paradigm shift in the interim. The scientific community has responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing over 16,000 COVID-19 related scientific articles within 4 months of the first confirmed case, of which at least 6,000 were hosted by preprint servers. We focused our analysis on bioRxiv and medRxiv, two growing preprint servers for biomedical research, investigating the attributes of COVID-19 preprints, their access and usage rates, characteristics of their sharing on online platforms, and the relationship between preprints and their published articles. Our data provides evidence for increased scientific and public engagement (COVID-19 preprints are accessed and distributed at least 15 times more than non-COVID-19 preprints) and changes in journalistic practice with reference to preprints. We also find evidence for changes in preprinting and publishing behaviour: COVID-19 preprints are shorter, with fewer panels and tables, and reviewed faster. Our results highlight the unprecedented role of preprints and preprint servers in the dissemination of COVID-19 science, and the likely long-term impact of the pandemic on the scientific publishing landscape.