"Life Scientists’ Experience with Posting Preprints during the COVID-19 Pandemic"

In the COVID-19 pandemic, it was much more critical for many life science researchers to rapidly disseminate research results—so they used preprints as upstream publication opportunities. This was rather new to the life sciences where preprint servers had only appeared as early as 2013. With a mixed-methods-study we examined this development and investigated whether preprint posting is a temporary phenomenon or the beginning of a cultural shift in publishing behavior in the life sciences. First, we conducted a survey of researchers who have posted COVID-19 related preprints. We investigated experiences with posting preprints during the COVID-19 pandemic, motivations for and concerns about posting preprints, the role of research institutions or funders, and the future of preprint publishing. Answers were grouped to compare differences between respondents’ gender, career stage, region of origin (global south or global north) and experience with posting preprints before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We further analyzed eight popular preprint repositories regarding the number of posted preprints and preprint characteristics, such as the number of authors and citations. Interestingly, survey and preprint server analysis have presented different, if not contradicting results: While the majority of surveyed researchers was willing to continue posting preprints, the numbers of preprints published, especially on servers for the life sciences, have stagnated or declined. Also, while certain preprints garnered substantial citations during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has not resulted in a significant shift in researchers’ publishing behavior, and the posting of preprints has not become a routine. We concluded that the sustainability of preprint publishing practices is more strongly influenced by disciplinary norms and practices than by external shocks as the COVID-19 pandemic.


| Research Data Curation and Management Works |
| Digital Curation and Digital Preservation Works |
| Open Access Works |
| Digital Scholarship |

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.