Q&A: New Preprint Server for Clinical Research | The Scientist Magazine®

In general, there are a number of reasons. I think first and foremost it is speeding up dissemination of research. If you submit a paper to a journal, it takes on average about seven months before the work is actually published. But that’s an underestimate because normally a lot of times people have to go through various submission and rejection cycles at another journal. So it’s probably more like a year.

It’s not unheard of for people to spend two to three years waiting for the work to come out. And that’s all time where other people in the field could be reading it and building on that work. I think what’s important from a system-wide perspective, if you add up all those years, timesaving could be very important. Steve Quake of the Biohub did a back-of-the-envelope calculation. It could be that after 10 years you could speed up discovery five-fold.

From an individual’s point of view, if you’re a postdoc applying for tenure track, if you post a preprint, you can give to a hiring committee, tenure committee, or grant agency and say, ‘this is my most recent work,’ and show early evidence of productivity, rather than having to tread water for ages. This is particularly important for young scientists.

Finally, it’s an opportunity for authors to get feedback on their work from a very large number of people so that, when it is submitted for formal assessment by a journal, it’s in much better shape. . . . What’s happening there is a lot more people are looking at it than peer reviewers. Normally, you would have three people peer review a paper. If you put it on a preprint server, you could get feedback from, well, 4 million are looking at bioRxiveach month and not all of them are going to read all the papers, but way more than three will be looking at it….”