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Preprints in medical research: Progress and principles

This month in a PLOS Medicine Essay, Michael Johansson and colleagues analyze publications on Ebola and Zika to demonstrate how the sharing of preprints—scientific manuscripts that are posted in a publicly accessible, online repository before peer review for journal publication—can accelerate access to information in infectious disease outbreaks.

In an Editorial, the PLOS Medicine Editors raise the question of how, as preprint posting becomes more routine, the medical research community can best fulfill the Hippocratic imperative to do no harm while avoiding undue delays in information sharing that may result in harm.

The Editors propose a framework in which constituents including researchers, preprint service providers, journals and the news media participate in 3 fundamental practices: ensuring transparency in reporting, maintaining clarity about the role of a preprint versus a peer-reviewed journal article, and taking responsibility for safety.

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