Who Killed the PrePrint, and Could It Make a Return? | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

A very interesting piece written on preprints here:

Who Killed the PrePrint, and Could It Make a Return? | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network.

Preprints are essentially working papers that are ‘published’ in order to solicit feedback prior to submitting a manuscript for publication in a traditional, peer-reviewed journal.

 The article was written by a founder of PeerJ, which is both a journal and a preprints archive for research in the biological sciences.

For those of us in the humanities, the idea of preprints ought to be exciting. Currently, however, there’s no well-established venue for preprints specifically in humanities fields — and certainly no preprints culture. We would need to develop such a culture for preprints to take off.

There are a few places that host preprints in the humanities, such as this from the Social Science Research Network and this from the journal Philosophy of Science. But these appear to be only places to post preprints, not to discuss them (sort of like discipline-specific versions of Academia.edu, although it would be possible in principle to discuss papers there).

There is one place I know of — peerevaluation.org — that has the ability to offer reviews of manuscripts archived there; but it’s not necessarily preprints, not discipline or even subject-specific, and reviews rarely happen, in my experience.

I think there is an opening here for a subject-specific or field-specific preprints archive that also allows for interaction between authors and ‘reviewers’.

If I’ve left out any existing preprint archives for the humanities, I’d be interested to learn of them in the comments. Also, I’m curious what people think of the idea in general, as well as reactions to the idea of including an interactive feature (modeled in some ways after peerevaluation.org). Comments welcome!


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2 Responses to Who Killed the PrePrint, and Could It Make a Return? | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

  1. Wenlong says:

    Both of this and the ‘Who killed preprint’ piece are definitely worth reading, with brilliant ideas and valuable information.

    Jason and Peter have clarified the rationale for preprints and the reason why we should embrace a preprint culture. If put ‘preprint’ into Lyotard’s map, I think it belongs to postmodernity. A preprint culture might weaken the authority of some peer review institutions. But, the most important reason to advocate a preprint culture and embrace it, for me, is that authors can get feedback and also can communicate with other like-minded persons.

    Q: Is there any conflict between preprints and peer-review?

    • Thanks, Wenlong. No, there’s no conflict between preprints and peer review. Manuscripts that are posted in preprint archives can later be submitted for peer review to traditional journals (unless the journal itself has a policy against it — a policy known as the Ingelfinger rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingelfinger_rule).

      Indeed, preprints open up the possibility of pre-submission peer review. This could be conducted very much like the peer review process used by typical journals, with an ‘editor’ of the preprint archive assigning reviewers to manuscripts. Or, it could be something much less formal, where anyone can comment on any paper.

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