Preprints: Accelerating Research

3. Should I Use a Preprint?

Challenges with Using Preprints


As the use, creation, and management of preprints evolves, there are still several challenges researchers and publishers face in using preprints4. Some risks include:

  1. It can feel overwhelming to deal with an influx of new information.
  2. The need for increased caution in using information that might be poor quality or lack research rigor that is usually evaluated and identified in peer review5.
  3. Publishing through preprint servers does not have as much of an impact on most promotion and tenure processes compared to scholarly journals.
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Use and miscommunication of preprints outside of the research community has also increased scrutiny on the trustworthiness of information shared through preprints6. A recent example includes a preprint published on the efficacy of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on viral variants. In this case, there was misrepresentation of data to suggest the inefficacy of the vaccine against the B1351 variant7.


4. Watching preprints evolve. Nature Reviews Immunology 21, 65–66 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-020-00489-5 .

5. Malički, M., Jerončić, A., ter Riet, G., et al. (2020, Nov 10) Preprint Servers’ Policies, Submission Requirements, and Transparency in Reporting and Research Integrity Recommendations. JAMA. 324(18):1901–1903. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2772748 .

6. Sheldon, T. (2018, July 24). Preprints could promote confusion and distortion. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05789-4 .

7. Cara, E. (2021, April 12). There's No Reason to Freak Out About the Latest Pfizer Vaccine Study. Gizmodo. https://gizmodo.com/there-s-no-reason-to-freak-out-about-the-latest-pfizer-1846665698 .