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Open access explained


A preprint is a version of a scholarly paper that has not yet been through the peer review process.

Hosting your paper on a preprint server can provide effective early dissemination. While some critics warn of poor quality, preprints enable research to be rapidly scrutinised and debated by the research community. This can help to improve the research.

Please check with your school about their approach to preprints and preprint servers.

Publishing a preprint

You submit (or post) a preprint to a preprint server. These are often subject-specific.

Some examples include:

You need to get permission from all authors to publish the preprint. Choose your license when you upload your preprint, the most common open license is Creative Commons CC-BY.

You can also deposit your preprints in Symplectic.

Journals and preprints

Generally, most publishers will accept articles previously published as a preprint, with any developments or revisions, in a journal at a later date.

Use Sherpa Romeo to check a particular journal’s policy on preprints.

Benefits of publishing a preprint

This can be a valuable route for authors to rapidly communicate critical data, as seen with the rise in Covid-19 research preprints. Global organisations such as UNESCO called for the early dissemination of Covid-19 research results in this way. They are increasingly popular in many disciplines where rapid dissemination is important, and they are part of a broader move to open research.

Some advantages of releasing preprints are:

  • they can help you to receive immediate engagement and recognition for your work
  • several studies show that releasing a preprint can generate a greater number of citations and attention for a subsequent peer reviewed journal article
  • they provide an opportunity for feedback from peers
  • most preprints are assigned a DOI, making them easy for others to link to and cite
  • they can be added to your ORCID profile
  • funders such as Wellcome allow researchers to cite preprints in grant applications.