From a Scholcomm Lab Blog Post:
In this post, we’re shining a spotlight on the Preprints Uptake and Use research team, and offering a glimpse of their findings so far.
Academic peer review is often seen as a cornerstone of science, and remains one of the most trusted ways of assessing research quality. But despite its status within academia, there’s little evidence of its effectiveness. (In fact, some research suggests peer review may actually prevent high quality science from becoming published).
Whether or not this is the case is still unclear, but scholars are exploring new avenues for disseminating their work. Preprinting—openly publishing research findings before submitting them for peer review—is one such avenue. By allowing researchers to circumvent the lengthy peer review process, preprints have the potential to catalyze research collaboration and innovation—months before the final journal article is published.
But despite these potential benefits and substantial growth in preprinting in the past few years, little is known about the use of preprints in individual academic communities. While we can track preprint numbers in major subject categories and on individual servers, we currently do not have data to understand who is preprinting and whether there are nuances between individual research communities: Which researchers preprint more than others in their network? In which research fields is preprinting growing in popularity, and in which fields is adoption disproportionately low? These are just some of the questions that the Preprints Uptake and Use research team is exploring this summer—questions that could help inform efforts to raise awareness of preprinting and measure their impact on science.