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Preprints

A preprint is a version of a scientific manuscript posted to a public server prior to peer review or formal publication in a scholarly journal. PLOS empowers authors to post preprints as a way to accelerate the dissemination of their research.

Authors are strongly encouraged to share their research on a preprint server and to provide links to their preprint during submission, and editors are advised to use comments posted on preprints and preprint reviews where applicable. Additionally, preprints on bioRxiv and medRxiv can be directly transferred to a relevant PLOS journal for a streamlined submission process.

PLOS makes the interaction between preprint servers and our journals as easy as possible, and we link our publications to the relevant preprint for authors. 

Learn more about the power of preprints
→ About preprints
→ PLOS preprints FAQ

There are many active preprint servers; see the Open Science Foundation’s preprint archive search for a list. Some servers accept preprints from any research field but many are specific to geographical regions or research disciplines.

Direct Transfer Service to PLOS Biology

PLOS partners with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to make posting preprints in the life sciences easy and convenient. All PLOS Biology research articles are eligible for preprints, with the exception of preregistered research articles.

Authors posting preprints to the bioRxiv preprint server can choose to concurrently submit their manuscripts to PLOS Biology and other relevant PLOS journals through the direct transfer service. Learn more about posting a preprint and the direct transfer service offered by bioRxiv.

Facilitated Preprint Posting from PLOS Biology

Authors submitting manuscripts in the life and health sciences to PLOS Biology may opt-in to have PLOS forward their submission to bioRxiv or medRxiv, depending on the scope of the paper, for consideration for posting as a preprint.

Papers that pass an initial screening for suitability will be posted on bioRxiv or medRxiv as a preprint, meaning that the manuscript files will be made publicly available and credited to the listed authors. If the article is later accepted for publication in PLOS Biology, the preprint and published article will link to each other when the article appears online.

Eligibility to post on bioRxiv or medRxiv is independent from the editorial assessment and peer review process. Preprint checks do not impact the decision regarding suitability for publication in PLOS Biology. Read more about editorial selection at PLOS Biology.

Preparing preprint files for submission

Preprints appear on bioRxiv and medRxiv in PDF format. Authors can choose to supply their own preprint PDF or have PLOS Biology compile an automatically generated PDF. 

  • If you supply a preprint PDF it will appear on bioRxiv or medRxiv unchanged. Be sure to include title, authors, abstract, and the full text of the manuscript, along with any figures or tables and their captions. bioRxiv and medRxiv limit PDF file size to 40 MB or less. PDF files must be compressed to meet this requirement.
  • Alternatively, PLOS Biology can automatically compile a preprint PDF suitable for bioRxiv or medRxiv from the manuscript file and figure files that are part of your journal submission. Supplementary information will not be included in auto-generated preprints, but may be uploaded directly to bioRxiv or medRxiv after posting.
Note that some figure quality may be lost during the auto-conversion process. For best results, make sure that your submission materials meet journal formatting requirements, and that tables fit within the margins of the page. If you are concerned about figure resolution, consider supplying a preprint PDF alongside your other submission files.

Preprint checks

After authors have opted in to have their preprint posted by PLOS Biology, it is transferred to bioRxiv or medRxiv where researchers with relevant expertise screen preprint submissions for suitability. More information on the screening process can be found on the bioRxiv and medRxiv sites.

Most submissions that pass the servers’ preprint checks will be posted within a few days of submission. Authors will receive a notification of successful preprint posting directly from bioRxiv or medRxiv. Once posted, a preprint cannot be removed from bioRxiv or medRxiv.

bioRxiv and medRxiv will communicate with authors directly if issues arise or screening indicates that a manuscript is not eligible for posting.

Updates to preprints

To ensure that readers are always accessing the latest version of the manuscript, authors are encouraged to submit updates and revisions to bioRxiv or medRxiv directly up until the point of acceptance for publication. Consult the submission guides at bioRxiv and medRxiv for specific instructions.

Concerns

If a concern arises about a published PLOS article with a related preprint, PLOS will evaluate the concern according to our standard editorial processes, taking into account any relevant comments available on the preprint.