By Andy Collings, Executive Editor, eLife
The use of preprints in the life sciences is growing at an impressive rate (ASAPbio: Biology preprints over time), with nearly 1,000 new preprints being posted each month. At eLife, authors have always been encouraged to make use of preprint servers, such as bioRxiv and arXiv, before submission or while their paper is under review.
Indeed, authors can upload a preprint to bioRxiv first and then transfer their files for consideration by eLife. In January 2016, eLife was among the first group of journals to participate in bioRxiv’s direct transfer initiative, which means that authors can post their preprint to bioRxiv and then submit the materials directly to a journal (bioRxiv preprints can now be submitted directly to leading research journals).
Now, to further encourage the use of preprints in the life sciences, eLife, with the support of eJournalPress and bioRxiv, has made it possible to submit the work first to eLife and then post the manuscript directly to bioRxiv. This saves time because authors don’t need to re-enter submission data, upload files twice, or even log in to bioRxiv to post their preprint. This happens during the full submission process, just after the eLife editors invite a paper for peer review and before it’s sent to referees:
The merged PDF (as well as metadata, including the title and author names) is sent to bioRxiv as soon as the corresponding author approves their submission and the preprint will usually be live a few hours later.
In the first few days, five eLife authors have already used this option to post their preprints. The preprints are deposited at bioRxiv under the category of New Results, using a CC-BY license, which facilitates re-use, as well as text and data mining. Using the preprint option helps to establish priority of the work, it enables citation before publication, for example in applications for jobs and grants, and it allows for feedback from the community, in addition to the journal’s review process.
Richard Sever, co-founder of bioRxiv, said: "We are delighted eLife has partnered with bioRxiv to allow their authors to simultaneously post submissions as preprints on bioRxiv. This is another forward-thinking move by the journal that means results can immediately be read and built upon by the scientific community.”
Although there are many advantages when using preprints, it won’t be appropriate for all authors. For example, some will have already posted their work as a preprint, while others may be coordinating publication, or they might be planning a press release to coincide with the publication of the peer-reviewed paper. Nevertheless, we hope this will encourage more authors to consider posting preprints for their work.