Preprints: An Interview with Kent Anderson

What Is The Function of Preprints Now?

This discussion with Kent Anderson provided Jill O'Neill with an opportunity to discuss the current role and impact of preprints in the scholarly information ecosystem. Hear Kent's responses to the following:

  1. Preprints were presented as a way for authors to more readily gather useful feedback on manuscripts prior to publication. As part of this, preprints would promote informal feedback and information exchange between scientists. Preprints could also be used to cover the time lags associated with the publication process. You say that there is a gap between those stated intentions and how preprint servers are currently used. On what basis do you make that claim? 

  2. Please talk about the data you gathered and analysis performed in reaching those conclusions. 

  3. Your analysis focuses on bioXiv to some extent. Do your findings primarily represent behaviors in a particular discipline, that is, the life sciences, or do you think this is reflective of the use of preprint services in other disciplines as well?

  4. If researchers are indeed tending to use preprint services for purposes other than what was originally imagined -- that is for purposes of driving up citation activity on an article, for career advancement, or for establishing claims of priority -- why is this of concern? 

  5. Doesn’t deposit to a preprint service represent compliance with funder mandates for open access? Wouldn’t that function be a rationale for continued support of these services?] 

  6. What are some of the financial models for funding preprint servers? Are these current models sustainable? If not, why not?

  7. Are there ways in which preprint servers might be brought into closer alignment with their original or publicly stated purpose? How might that work? 

  8. Have you discussed such possibilities with decision-makers at these services? What has been their response?


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