Preliminary results from a COAR and ASAPbio survey of preprints in institutional and generalist repositories
All new knowledge is built on the shoulders of previous knowledge. As such, the pace of discovery is determined according to how quickly research can be shared. As a complement to the valuable (but often slow) process of peer-review publishing, preprints make it possible to release new scholarship to the world in a matter of hours or days, rather than months or years. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us keenly aware of the need for timely and reliable research results shared equitably by, and with, all parts of the world. And we have seen a significant rise in researchers sharing their preprints, with this trend likely to continue.
In the past, institutional and generalist repositories have not played a significant role in hosting these objects. However, as the sharing of preprints becomes more widely embraced, these types of repositories are obvious mechanisms to expand the preprint ecosystem internationally, without having to launch many new preprint services.
In August/September 2021, ASAPbio and COAR conducted a survey of institutional and generalist repositories to gauge their current activities and future plans related to the collection of preprints. We received 118 responses, with over 65% of respondents indicating that they already have preprints in their collection. In addition, of those respondents that do not currently collect preprints, over 65% indicated that they plan to do so in the future. According to the survey, practices are quite varied in terms of the services related to preprints provided by these repositories. Most support linking to the published journal version of the article, and about half of them assign DOIs (though it is common practice for most repositories to assign permanent URL, such as a handle). However, other services common in domain preprint archives, such as support for versioning, linking to external peer review services, and basic screening, are less common. A more detailed report of the survey findings will be available soon.
COAR and ASAPbio recognize that it is important these repositories are able to respond to the needs of the research community when collecting preprints. To that end, we will be launching a working group with the aim of understanding current challenges, developing some good practice recommendations, and creating a plan to advance the adoption of the functionalities that support the collection of preprints in institutional and generalist repositories.