Thursday, January 24, 2019

Why you should probably share your preprints

Among researchers, a preprint is known as the version of a scientific study that precedes official publication in a peer-reviewed journal or book. In hard sciences and computer science, it is quite common for researchers to put their preprints openly available online, mainly through the Arxiv repository. This practice is also common in Economics, where researchers often publish 'working papers' via SSRN, NBER or their own institutions before getting the paper published in a journal. This practice is becoming more common and there are new repositories popping up in different areas such as biorxiv, chemrxiv and the SocArXiv focused on the social sciences more broadly.

Why you should share your preprints:
Preprints are not meant to replace peer-reviewed publications. Nonetheless they can importantly contribute to (1) speeding up the process of getting your ideas out in the public, (2) increasing the readership of your work, and (3) making your research accessible to people who cannot read articles behind paywalls. I've been sharing the preprints of my last papers on SocArXiv and highly recommend others to do the same. There are a few good reasons to use SocArxiv. One of them is that they create a permanent link and a permanent DOI identification for you preprint. This helps making the manuscript searchable and citable on academic databases.

Be aware, though, that some journals for example do not allow the use of preprints as they claim that this practice undermines the novelty of manuscripts. As a rule, though, social science journals published by Elsevier and Taylor & Francis (Routledge) do not see any problem in authors sharing their preprints before paper submission. There is also an interesting debate about whether preprints undermine the double-blindness of peer review and the differential impacts it might have for the publications of senior and junior researchers. As I've mentioned before, the use of preprints is not without controversy. 


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