Preprints: Accelerating Research

3. Should I Use a Preprint?

Considerations for Using Preprints

How you use preprints in your research will ultimately depend on a variety of factors. Should you choose to incorporate preprints in your research workflow, here are several considerations to maximize impact:

Be Skeptical icon
Always be skeptical of findings

Whether a preprint or published article, one should always critically evaluate the methods, analyses, and findings in research.

Check Criteria icon
Be aware of any screening or quality checks taken by preprint servers

Some servers and indices have policies describing the basic qualifications necessary for preprint inclusion. For example, PMC describes their inclusion criteria for their Preprint Pilot on the FAQ page.

Find More Evidence icon
Find complementary studies where available

The more evidence found, the better you are able to support your conclusions. If you are using a preprint in your work, take time to find other works that can bolster the evidence. If you cannot find any, you might want to further scrutinize the original work.

Indicate Use icon
Clearly indicate if you use preprints in your work

If using preprints in your work, explicitly emphasize the uncertainty of evidence to inform readers1. This can include in-text disclaimers and clear citation of preprints in your bibliography.


Check your knowledge from the 3. Should I Use a Preprint? section by answering the following questions:

  1. Describe the benefits and challenges you consider to be most important in determining the use of preprints in your work.

  1. Thinking about your answer above, how will you reduce some of the challenges in using preprints for your work?

1. Fleerackers, A., Riedlinger, M., Moorhead, L., Ahmed, R., & Alperin, J. P. (2021). Communicating Scientific Uncertainty in an Age of COVID-19: An Investigation into the Use of Preprints by Digital Media Outlets. Health Communication, 1–13.