Preprint sharing has become an increasingly common practice; one which has greatly expanded since the COVID-19 pandemic. Posting a preprint makes an article quickly and freely available to everyone (while the published version may take months and be behind a paywall) and opens the manuscript up for transparent community review. The move towards greater preprint sharing is being accompanied by other innovations that leverage the availability of these manuscripts such as open peer review and endorsement services, and the ‘publish, review, and curate’ approach – whereby some publishers will only review manuscripts already published as preprints. Some funders are now accepting open peer review on preprints as an alternative to traditional journals. These trends have the potential to drastically improve research communication, making it more efficient, open, and transparent.

There are an increasing number of dedicated preprint servers (preprint-specific repositories) that are developing new practices to support the unique needs related to managing preprints. However, there are still large gaps in geographic and domain coverage and some authors will choose to deposit their research outputs into another type of repository, such as an institutional or generalist repository.

As preprint sharing becomes more widespread, it is clear that generalist and institutional repositories have an important role to play in supporting open and early sharing of research manuscripts.

In 2021, COAR and ASAPbio undertook a survey of current practices and plans regarding the collection of preprints in institutional and generalists repositories (IRs). The results revealed that approximately two thirds of the responding repositories currently host preprints. However, it was also found that many repositories did not yet support the unique functionalities and practices that are being adopted by preprint servers. To address these gaps, COAR and ASAPbio convened a working group to develop recommended practices for managing preprints. The working group undertook an environmental scan of existing preprint server functionalities and identified priority practices that should be considered for adoption by any type of repository that is managing preprints.

  • Alessandra Bianchi, EPFL
  • Alcinda Costa, IBICT
  • Susana Costa, UMinho
  • Colleen Cressman, Harvard
  • Andras Holl, MTA
  • Alenka Kavcic, NUK
  • Iryna Kuchma, EIFL
  • Benedicte Kuntziger, CCSD
  • Gabriel Marques, IBICT
  • Yumi Ohiro, JPCOAR,
  • Jessica Polka, ASAPbio
  • Iratxe Puebla,, ASAPbio
  • Rainer Rees-Mertins, ETH
  • Irina Razumova, NEICON
  • Sadie Roosa, MIT
  • Kathleen Shearer, COAR
  • Tatyane Silva, IBICT
  • Juliana Sousa, IBICT

The Working Group has identified Ten Recommended Practices for Managing Preprints in Generalist and Institutional Repositories across three areas: linking, discovery, and editorial processes. The practices are listed in the table below, followed by more detailed explanations and concrete examples of how they are currently being implemented. While we acknowledge that many of these practices are not currently adopted by institutional and generalist repositories, we hope that these recommendations will encourage repositories around the world to begin to apply them locally.

Ten Recommended Practices for Managing Preprints in Generalist and Institutional Repositories

  1.   Offer a step in the submission process for authors to provide information about other preprint versions, accepted manuscripts, published versions, and external peer reviews
  2.   When this information is available, indicate that there is related content in the repository metadata record using “dc:relation” field or “isIdenticalTo”, “isVersionOf”, “isPreprintOf” or “hasReview” and include the PID of the external resource
  3.   When the information is available, link to related versions and external peer reviews on the landing page of the preprint
  4.   For each new version of a preprint in the repository, assign a unique PID and include a version number that represents their updates sequentially
  5.   In addition to versions and reviews, enable authors to link to other related resources such as data, code or other associated outputs
  6.   Ensure preprints are integrated into domain and preprint discovery and indexing systems
  7.   Clearly indicate in the metadata record and on the landing page that the document is a preprint, working paper, or other domain specific term
  8.   Include a text banner on the landing page of the preprint that informs readers that the document is a preprint
  9.   Clearly indicate on the landing page or on the repository website what type of moderation or screening processes has been applied to the preprints
  10.   If a preprint has been removed, retain the metadata and a landing page (tombstone page) that designates its status as “withdrawn”