OA Week 2018: Engaging Early and Often

A key component of scholarly communication is, in fact, communication. What’s the point of making information available if engagement doesn’t follow? One way of facilitating increased engagement with scholarly literature is through the hosting of preprint articles on institutional repositories and preprint servers.

Preprints are typically defined as scholarly articles that have not yet undergone peer-review and are ready to be submitted for publication. Generally, preprints include the same overall information as final published articles but lack the added design elements and review that occur in the journal publication process. Most importantly in terms of open access, authors can, in most circumstances, freely post and make available their preprint work online.

Preprints speed up the dissemination of scholarly literature by aligning with researcher timelines – not publisher timelines. Preprint servers like arXiv, bioRxiv, and OSF Preprints typically make author-submitted preprints available for viewing in just a few business days, allowing posted articles to be both timely and relevant to current discussions. In the age of social media and instant reporting, it’s important that scholarly research increase the immediacy with which it’s available to enter public discourse.

Infographic about positive aspects of preprints
Image by Daniela Saderi & Adam Lazenby / CC BY 4.0

To come to any kind of consensus on scholarly research, we need a diverse range of individuals engaging with the research and giving feedback on findings. Open knowledge initiatives like PREreview, a web platform allowing for peer-reviewing of preprint articles, encourage scholarly conversation to occur between individuals whose voices have been historically excluded from this crucial process, such as early career and unaffiliated researchers. PREreview also provides valuable preprint feedback to “be compiled into a review and sent back to the authors, who then have the chance of integrating that feedback into their work” (Welcome to PREreview).

According to responses from about 500 faculty members in a recent UT Libraries’ survey, roughly 65% of faculty respondents have shared their scholarly research in “pre-print or e-print digital archives” in the past 5 years (Ithaka survey, Q10). Nearly 40% of those same respondents believed circulating preprint versions of their work to be “an important way for me to communicate my research findings with my peers” (Ithaka survey, Q12).

Considering submission of your preprint work to a preprint server? Double-check journal submission policies on SHERPA/RoMEO before doing so.

Interested in more results from the UT Libraries’ Ithaka S+R 2018 survey of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students? View the full results online.