Hot Topic: Preprints

Virtual Conference


Research during the pandemic accelerated discussions surrounding the value of preprints. Preprint services, such as the venerable arXiv and more recent bioRxiv, are accepted steps in the publication pathways. Are existing models sustainable? What issues are there with regard to infrastructure? Should there be some process for validation or rejection?  How much understanding of the limitations of preprints is properly communicated to journalists or other interested parties? This virtual conference follows up on the 2019 preprint event sponsored by NISO. What progress has been made?

Among others, confirmed participants include Alberto Pepe, Director of Product, Authorea; Bruce Rosenblum, Vice President, Content and Workflow Solutions, Atypon; Kathryn Funk, Program Manager, PubMed Central, NLM; Kyle Lo, Research Scientist, Semantic ScholarAllen Institute for Artificial Information (AI2); Leslie McIntosh, CEO, Ripeta; and Richard Sever, Assistant Director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Co-founder of medRxiv and bioRxiv. 

Background Reading on Preprints (NISO Publications)

1, Open Access: The Role and Impact of Preprint Servers, January 2020

This is a write-up of a two-day event sponsored by NISO in November 2019. The 2021 event builds on areas of concern surfaced during that set of discussions.

2. Why “What is A Preprint?” is the Wrong Question, December 2019 

Jessica Polka, ASAPBio

3. To Preprint or Not to Preprint, December 2019

Sara Rouhi, PLOS

Event Sessions

12:00 Noon - 12:15pm Welcome

Event introduced by moderator, Todd Carpenter, Executive Director, NISO

12:15pm - 12:45pm Enriching Preprints with Provenance, Reproducibility, and Trustworthiness


Alberto Pepe

Senior Director of Product Strategy and Innovation

Preprints aren’t new, but the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated their growth and popularity, shining new light on a practice of early dissemination that used to be common only in the physical sciences. While "pre-printing" has now become an accepted step in virtually all journals' publication workflows, funders, publishers, and societies are grappling with what preprints mean for journals in the long-term, and how to share research early while maintaining trustworthiness, credibility, and the rigor of peer review. In this session, I will discuss some new initiatives aimed at "enriching" preprints with indicators of quality, value, provenance, and trustworthiness: the publication of peer review reports and timelines, the automatic linking of preprints to their Version of Record, and the use of preprints as a vehicle to disseminate supplementary information and other non-traditional research outputs.


Authorea: Ecology and Evolution Open Research

12:45pm - 1:15pm Indexing and Enabling Discovery


In June 2020, the National Library of Medicine launched the first phase of a pilot project designed to test the viability of making preprints resulting from research supported by the National Institutes of Health searchable in PubMed Central (PMC) and PubMed. The primary aim of the NIH Preprint Pilot is to increase early discoverability of NIH-supported research results, maximizing the possible impact of the research. Phase one has focused on preprints relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will provide a snapshot of the pilot to date and consider the role of metadata and full-text searchability in preprint discovery, managing a scholarly "record of versions," and assessing the role of preprints in advancing scholarly communications.

1:15pm - 1:45pm Citation Practices and Analysis of Usage, Impact


The COVID-19-induced explosion of preprints has produced a corresponding explosion of citations to preprints. In the process of working with publishers to handle these citations in their publication workflows, our team discovered a series of editorial and production challenges around best practices for preprint metadata and preprint citations. In this talk, Bruce Rosenblum gives an overview of these challenges and potential solutions, illustrated with real-world examples.


'Zoom fatigue' may be with us for years. Here's how we'll cope

‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here's why that happens

Nonverbal Mechanisms Predict Zoom Fatigue and Explain Why Women Experience Higher Levels than Men

Guest Post — What’s Wrong with Preprint Citations?

Building trust in preprints: recommendations for servers and other stakeholders

Opinion: Preprints in the Public Eye

1:45pm - 2:15pm Brief Break for Lunch, other tasks

2:15pm - 2:45pm Small Group Discussion

Resources shared by our attendees:

Health Feedback: Accurate information is the foundation of a functioning democracy

Snopes: Fact-Checker

2:45pm - 3:30pm Case Studies


Kyle Lo

Research Scientist
Allen Institute for AI (AI2)

Case Study from Kyle Lo, AI2 
Designing AI-infused reading interfaces for AI preprint consumption

In this two-part talk, we first examine the relationship between a particular academic community -- artificial intelligence (AI) -- and arXiv preprints. While scholars across many disciplines have long used preprints for faster dissemination of their research, slow peer review and short project life cycles have resulted in arXiv preprints filling an increasingly central role in how AI researchers do research.  For example, AI researchers regularly stay up-to-date with arXiv preprints, use and cite them in their work, and may even prioritize arXiv-ing their paper rather than submit for peer review and publication. 

In the latter half of this talk, we highlight ongoing research on improving the reading experience of AI research preprints on arXiv through augmented digital interfaces. Our work has been motivated by reading challenges related to consuming PDFs, the primary format for arXiv preprints, but has simultaneously been made possible by the open access nature of arXiv, especially its sharing of other useful data, like LaTeX source files.


Semantic Scholar: A free, AI-powered research tool for scientific literature

ScholarPhi Demo

Case Study from Leslie McIntosh, Ripeta
Automating Quality Indicator Checks in Preprint: Trust in the Integrity of Research

Preprints are core infrastructure for enabling the quick and broad sharing of research, which has been shown to advance science and allow us to collectively move towards solving scientific and social issues. Yet, the push towards public access has been followed by the growth of bad actors and bad science in the research realm. Some of misinformation and shoddy science has been cited or picked up by the news, further enabling a scientific trust issue. This presentation will highlight research recently completed by the Ripeta team on the trust in preprints, specifically highlighting approaches and tools leveraged to complete these automatic checks and the outcomes.



ripetaReport: The Journal of Experimental Medicine

Transparently Reported Research: An analysis of Wellcome-funding publications in 2016 and 2019

3:30 - 4:00pm Vision Interview (Richard Sever, CSHL, and Todd Carpenter, NISO)


Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly, irrespective of their geographical location. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email ( 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ ( one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.