Bourne 2017 PLoS Comput Biol

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Bourne 2017 PLoS Comput Biol

Publications in the MiPMap
Bourne PE, Polka JK, Vale RD, Kiley R (2017) Ten simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission. PLoS Comput Biol 13:e1005473. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005473.

» PLoS Comput Biol Open Access

Bourne PE, Polka JK, Vale RD, Kiley R (2017) PLoS Comput Biol

Abstract: For the purposes of these rules, a preprint is defined as a complete written description of a body of scientific work that has yet to be published in a journal. Typically, a preprint is a research article, editorial, review, etc. that is ready to be submitted to a journal for peer review or is under review. It could also be a commentary, a report of negative results, a large data set and its description, and more. Finally, it could also be a paper that has been peer reviewed and either is awaiting formal publication by a journal or was rejected, but the authors are willing to make the content public. In short, a preprint is a research output that has not completed a typical publication pipeline but is of value to the community and deserving of being easily discovered and accessed. We also note that the term preprint is an anomaly, since there may not be a print version at all. The rules that follow relate to all these preprint types unless otherwise noted.


Bioblast editor: Gnaiger E

Selected quotations

  • Rule 1: Preprints speed up dissemination
  • Rule 2: Preprints should be licensed and formatted to facilitate reuse - Better still is the promise that the traditional content of research articles can be integrated with the underlying data, analytics, and commentary to create a new learning experience.
  • Rule 3: Preprints provide a record of priority
  • Rule 4: Preprints do not lead to being scooped
  • Rule 5: Preprints provide access to scholarly content that would otherwise be lost - In addition to our formal publications, as scientists, we have scholarly outputs that we are willing to stand behind but may not have an outlet.
  • Rule 6: Preprints do not imply low quality - Thus, scientists will be careful to disclose their best work that reflects their scientific abilities and expertise, so work of low quality would not be expected.
  • Rule 7: Preprints support the rapid evaluation of controversial results - Science is, by its nature, iterative and self-correcting. Through preprints, the time to correction can be much reduced.
  • Rule 8: Preprints do not typically preclude publication
  • Rule 9: Preprints can further inform grant review and academic advancement - First, consider grant applications to funding bodies. Papers submitted (or even accepted) but not yet published do not help, since the grant reviewer cannot judge the work. By contrast, the availability of preprints can provide a reviewer with the evidence they need to substantiate recent productivity, as well as support the work being proposed in the grant application. .. At the time of academic promotion, a significant body of a scientist’s work could be tied up in the journal review and publication pipeline. Certainly, submitted papers can usually form part of a promotion file, but this carries less weight and credibility than a preprint, which is an acknowledgment by the author that the work is worthy of public viewing and dissemination to the entire scientific community.
  • Rule 10: Preprints—one shoe does not fit all - Currently, preprints have only cursory safeguards, though a future preprint service could enable more rigorous review.


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