Preprints: FAQ

StemRxiv logo (plus border) on the StemJournal website (stem cell research preprints)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you considering to submit a preprint for your stem cell research but are puzzled by a few points? Read on, and hopefully all will become clear.

If by the end your question hasn't been answered, please don't hesitate to contact us by sending an emial to: stemjournal@iospress.com

Q1. What is a preprint?

A preprint is a version of a scientific manuscript that is uploaded by the authors to a public server.  The preprint contains complete data and methodologies and may contain differences from the manuscript that is eventually submitted to a journal for formal peer review. After a brief quality-control inspection to ensure that the work is scientific in nature, the author’s manuscript is posted within a day or so on the Web without peer review and can be viewed without charge by anyone in the world. 

Preprints are normally given a digital object identifier (DOI) so they can be cited in the scientific literature. For a summary on the nature of preprints, see: bit.ly/preprint-info. Alternatively, for a more detailed commentary see https://asapbio.org/preprint-info/preprint-faq#qe-faq-659.

Your questions about preprints explained

Q2. What is the value of publishing preprints?

As journal publication is often slow and the peer-review process unpredictable, preprints provide a mechanism for rapidly communicating research with the scientific community. This is good for science overall, since disseminating new knowledge or techniques leads to new discoveries. However, there are tangible benefits to the scientist who uses preprints, a subset of which is listed below:

  • Career advancement
  • Establishing a record of priority and attribution of credit
  • Improvement through feedback
  • Rapid dissemination of research
  • Visibility
  • Citations

Q3. How does submitting a preprint via StemRxiv work?

If you choose to submit your research preprint via the StemRxiv portal, then we will arrange for your manuscript and figures to be automatically transferred to the bioRxiv or medRxiv preprint server. The StemJournal editorial team will screen your submission according to the posting criteria of bioRxiv or medRxiv. If it complies with either server’s criteria, the manuscript and figures will be posted to the relevant server and will be publicly available as a preprint in a matter of days.

Q4. Can I post a preprint myself?

If you do not choose for StemJournal to post your manuscript to bioRxiv or medRxiv, you can post your preprint directly on these servers, as an option from the StemRxiv portal depending on whether your research is basic, translational or clinical.

Q5. Is it a requirement to publish my article as a preprint when submitting to StemJournal?

No. Though we recommend the principles of "open science", it is optional. You can submit your article to StemJournal without also having to publish your article as a preprint.

Q6. If I want to publish my article as a preprint, is it a requirement of StemJournal that I submit my preprint via StemRxiv?

No. You are free to go directly to either bioRxiv and medRxiv and upload your submission manually. Via either of those servers, you will then be able to select for your preprint to be submitted directly to StemJournal once your research paper is ready for submission.

Q7. What if I have already posted my preprint on bioRxiv or medRxiv?

If you have a preprint on one of those servers, you can chose to submit your final version of the preprint to StemJournal, for formal peer review, directly from bioRxiv or medRxiv.

Q8. Can I revise a posted preprint?

Both bioRxiv and medRxiv allow new versions of the manuscript to be uploaded and it is quite easy to tell when a new version has been posted. Thus, you can update your paper based on new experiments you may have conducted in the meantime, or feedback and input received from the community. However, the original and all subsequent versions of the paper are retained and can be viewed.

To make changes to a preprint StemJournal has posted to bioRxiv or medRxiv on your behalf, you will need to register for a bioRxiv/medRxiv account using the same email address associated with your Editorial Manager account.

Q9. What about the timing of the preprint relative to the journal submission?

This is your decision. In many cases, preprints are submitted close to the time of the journal submission. StemJournal encourages you to post a preprint publicly a few weeks before submission to the journal for peer review and you should point your community to this version for initial feedback. StemJournal has enabled one-click manuscript transfer from bioRxiv and medRxiv.

Q10. My research is already accepted for publication in StemJournal; can I upload my final version of the manuscript as a preprint?

No. StemJournal does not allow a preprint submission of the final version of the manuscript. See the IOS Press policy on this topic, which prevents upload of the final copy edited, formatted article. It is important to consider the policy of the preprint server as well. For example, bioRxiv allows submission anytime prior to journal acceptance. It is best to be transparent with the journal editor about your preprint by notifying them in your cover letter.

Q11. What about sharing of reagents after posting a preprint?

Currently, authors may benefit from sharing reagents after a preprint posting. StemJournal promotes “open science” and encourages authors to share reagents via Divvly.com. Sharing ahead of publication may seed new collaborations, accelerate discovery, and also enhance your group’s reputation for being cooperative. 

Q12. Do funders/job search committees give credit for preprints?

Funders (including NIH, HHMI, Wellcome, MPG, MRC, HFSP, CZI, CIHR, Simons, EMBO, Helmsley, Cancer Research UK, and BBSRC) and universities have considered preprints in assessment processes (including UC Davis, NYU, UCSC, UT Austin, and the Rockefeller University).

Q13. Will preprints be integrated with PubMed or a similar service?

Preprints submitted through the StemRxiv portal will be indexed by Europe PMC, which began indexing preprints in July of 2018. Currently, preprints do not appear on PubMed or PubMed Central; but they are indexed in search tools such as Google ScholarPrePubMed, and OSF preprints. You will soon also be able to search for published preprints in the stem cell field via the StemRxiv portal. 

Q14. Can my journal submission be scooped by the appearance of a preprint from another group, leading to editorial rejection of my paper?

Generally, editors consider only peer-reviewed work (on PubMed or the like) in applying criterion of originality.  They do not use preprints as a basis of deciding whether to review and ultimately accept work. However, reviewers might note in their reviews if there is a discrepancy in the results of the studies, since they have public access to the preprint. However, ignoring and failing to cite the earlier preprint in an appropriate way in one’s own journal article (or preprint) would be deceitful, as it would be intentionally ignoring work from a scientific colleague in order to advance one’s own work.

Q15. Can preprints help scooping from presentations at meetings?

Scientific meetings are increasingly becoming dominated by published or soon to be published data (e.g. manuscripts that are accepted). Many scientists are wary of sharing earlier stage work, even if they have a manuscript in hand as they have no idea of how long it might take to get published. Meeting presentations and posters are generally not considered to be “protected”, since the data is not citable and only a limited number of individuals have access to the talk/poster. In contrast, a preprint is a public, globally-accessible document, has a DOI number, and is citable as a disclosure. Thus, if a scientist wishes to disclose new data at a scientific meeting, they have the option of also reporting that data either before or after the meeting in the form of a preprint. In contrast, if the presented work is only submitted to a journal, the time until public disclosure is not certain.