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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 ONE

PLOS partners with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to make posting preprints in the life and medical sciences seamless and convenient.

Authors posting preprints to the bioRxiv or medRxiv preprint servers can choose to concurrently submit their manuscripts to PLOS ONE or another relevant PLOS journal through the direct transfer service. Learn more about posting a preprint and the direct transfer service offered by bioRxiv and medRxiv.

Facilitated Preprint Posting from PLOS ONE

Authors submitting manuscripts in the life and medical sciences to PLOS ONE 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 ONE, 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 ONE. Read more about editorial selection at PLOS ONE.

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 ONE 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 ONE 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 ONE, it is screened for suitability by PLOS ONE staff editors (bioRxiv) or by researchers with relevant expertise (medRxiv). The screening for bioRxiv involves checks for:

  • Scope. Only submissions reporting primary research in biology and the life sciences are eligible for posting on bioRxiv. Read more about bioRxiv’s scope.
  • Inappropriate, inflammatory, or offensive language or content.
  • Claims with implications for public health or other issues that should undergo peer review before posting.
  • Text overlap.
  • Dual use research of concern.
  • Copyright. The authors must have the right to post the full submission, including figures, under a CC BY license. Read more about licenses and copyright.
  • Identifying personal information. 

More information on the screening process carried out by medRxiv can be found here.

Most submissions that pass preprint checks will appear on bioRxiv or medRxiv 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.

For bioRxiv, the journal office will communicate with authors if issues arise or screening indicates that a manuscript is not eligible for posting to bioRxiv. medRxiv will communicate with authors in these cases directly.

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.