COVID-19 has spurred an increase in preprints which are a means of sharing research findings prior to formal peer review. Preprints related to COVID-19 are being posted to preprint repositories at a rapid rate. As of March 24, 2020, there were 738 preprints in medRxiv and bioRxiv related to the COVID-19 virus; as of this posting date, there are 5,675 preprints.
To help with discoverability of preprints, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has launched a pilot project (NIH Preprint Pilot) to test the viability of making preprints resulting from NIH-funded research available via PubMed Central (PMC). The pilot will initially focus on increasing the discoverability of preprints with NIH support relating to COVID-19.
NIH encourages investigators to use interim research products such as preprints to, “to speed the dissemination and enhance the rigor of their work.” Per the 2017 NIH Notice Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products, NIH outlines requirements for citing interim research products in applications, proposals and reports, and guidance for selecting a repository for preprints and other interim research products. One recommendation is that authors select a repository that abides by FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable).
Additional guidance for authors who chose to share their work as a preprint are available from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Two recommendations from ICJME are:
- Inform a journal if the work has been previously posted on a preprint server.
- Ensure that preprints are amended to point readers to subsequent versions, including the final published article.
To learn more about preprints, how to find preprints, how to select a preprint repository, and recommendations for authors who share preprints, see the new Becker Library guide, Preprints.