Preprints are scientific manuscripts uploaded to open-access servers prior to formal peer review. These manuscripts are thus made available to the scientific community (and beyond) for comment and discussion.
A meeting was recently organized by Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology (ASAPbio) to discuss the merits and drawbacks of preprints in the biological sciences. The attendees — including scientists, journal representatives and funders — published a commentary summarizing their perspectives. In June four foundations, including the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, announced support for ASAPbio and its preprint plan.
In support of this initiative within the Simons Foundation, the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain (SCGB) will now give investigators the option of including preprints in our applications and progress reports, and we will take these manuscripts into consideration during reviews.
Preprints have many advantages. They speed access to new findings and the provide an opportunity for authors to receive feedback from a larger group of scientists instead of being limited to the anonymous peer reviewers. Preprint servers have the potential to increase communication and collaboration among investigators in the SCGB.
The scientific community is concerned that posting preprints may decrease the authors’ chances of being published in the top peer-reviewed journals, increase their chances of getting scooped, or introduce low-quality data to the field. The discussion in our community, and the example from physics, has addressed many of these fears and convinced us that preprints are worth trying in the biological sciences. We recognize that certain experiments and experimental preparations raise unique questions for preprints, and these issues should be discussed further.
There are many investigators in the SCGB who already support and post preprints. We encourage you to look at the work available on preprint servers (like bioRxiv) and consider providing feedback.