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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 preprint servers 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 have their files and metadata 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
→ Preprint pre-posting checklist
→ PLOS preprint FAQ

Many other preprint servers exist. See Open Science Foundation’s preprint archive search for a list of preprint servers. Some preprint servers accept preprints from any research study but many are specific to geographical regions or research disciplines.

Direct Transfer Service to PLOS Pathogens

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 preprint server can choose to concurrently submit their manuscripts to PLOS Pathogens 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 Pathogens

Authors submitting manuscripts in the life sciences to PLOS Pathogens may opt-in to have PLOS post their work as a preprint on bioRxiv during initial submission and before the peer review process.

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

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

Preparing preprint files for submission

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

  • If you supply a preprint PDF it will appear on bioRxiv 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 limits PDF file size to 20 MB or less. PDF files must be compressed to meet this requirement.
  • PLOS Pathogens can automatically compile a preprint PDF suitable for bioRxiv from the manuscript file and figure files that are part of your regular journal submission. Supplementary information will not be included in auto-generated preprints, but may be uploaded directly to bioRxiv 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

PLOS Pathogens screens preprint submissions for bioRxiv suitability upon submission and before the manuscript enters the peer review process. The screening 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.

Most submissions that pass our preprint checks will appear on bioRxiv within a few days of submission. Authors will receive a notification of successful preprint posting directly from bioRxiv.

The journal office will communicate with the authors if issues arise or screening indicates a manuscript is not eligible for posting to bioRxiv.

Updates to preprints

To ensure that readers are always accessing the latest version of the article, authors are encouraged to submit updates and revisions to bioRxiv directly. Consult the bioRxiv submit page for specific instructions.

If a manuscript with a concurrent bioRxiv preprint is accepted for publication in PLOS Pathogens, the preprint and published article will link to each other upon publication.

Concerns

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