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Extending support for preprint sharing

Author: Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, PLOS’ Director of Open Research Solutions

All PLOS journals welcome submission of papers that have been shared as preprints. PLOS was amongst the first publishers to adopt this policy, as we recognise the value in early sharing of community-curated research, a value borne out in the COVID pandemic.

As well as our permissive policy on preprints, we support preprint posting by authors by partnering with preprint services that are relevant to and adopted by a journal’s community. To this end, PLOS’ new journals, which opened for submissions in May 2021, now welcome submissions directly from bioRxiv and/or medRxiv, two of the most widely adopted preprint servers for biology and medicine, respectively.

Bidirectional links between PLOS journal articles and preprints at bioRxiv and medRxiv also help assure readers of the credibility (trustworthiness) of preprints that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. This integration between preprint servers and journals saves authors time in submitting papers to PLOS journals. Authors do not need to reload manuscript files and re-enter author information at the journal. Researchers also increase their potential for peer feedback to improve their work. Preprint sharing is, also, an open research practice that has been associated with more readership and citations of peer-reviewed papers.

The preprint server-to-journal relationships for the new PLOS journals are:

Receives submissions directly from bioRxivReceives submissions directly from medRxiv
PLOS Climate
PLOS Digital Health*n/a
PLOS Global Public Health*n/a
PLOS Sustainability and Transformation
PLOS Water
*As a health research-focused journal, only medRxiv is applicable

As an early adopter of preprints, the proportion of published PLOS articles shared as a preprint is increasing year-on-year, with15% of articles published in PLOS journals so far in 2021 having an associated preprint. But adoption of preprints varies greatly by journal, discipline and region. More than 50% of research papers published in PLOS Biology and PLOS Computational Biology, for example, have associated preprints.

Support for sharing and receiving preprints is one of the numerous ways PLOS journals enable open science. All PLOS journals include a core set of open science policies and features, which include:

  • Requiring all data on which a paper’s conclusions rely to be publicly accessible unless ethical restrictions apply
  • Encouraging sharing of detailed, step-by-step protocols, on protocols.io
  • Encouraging all authors and peer reviewers to opt in to open, published peer review

Some journals offer enhanced open science policies or features, where a community of researchers has demonstrated a need for a different approach. PLOS Computational Biology’s introduction of a mandatory code sharing policy, PLOS Biology’s introduction of Preregistered Research Articles, and PLOS ONE’s offering of peer-reviewed protocols and Registered Reports are examples.

As well as integrating new PLOS journals with relevant preprint services, we are working with our Editors and their communities to understand their needs and challenges around open science, and to explore future opportunities for new open research solutions (policies, tools, partnerships and features).

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