Feature

The preprint dilemma

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1344-1349
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1344

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  • Will preprint get the top academic authority?
    • Shino Iwami, Project Researcher, University of Jyväskylä

    As e-Letters for articles about preprint and researcher’s SNSs (1 - 3), I pointed out one ending (2) and one beginning (3) of roles of preprint. In the latter, increasing fees for papers will give a chance to use preprint servers and researcher’s SNSs.
    For a new role of preprint, tools have been prepared, but the level of demands is veiled. Although the gap of author’s country between preprint and publisher will be a good indicator, preprint servers and researcher’s SNSs do not provide author’s countries of papers. Thus, I compared the gap between Web of Science and Google Trend. The hypothesis is that Web of Science indicates real readers and Google Trend includes both of latent readers and real readers.
    As a result, the 2017 top three countries of papers of "Cryo-Electron Microscopy" (from the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017) and citing papers on Web of Science are USA (the United States of America), Germany and England. Those on Google Trend are Singapore (100), Taiwan (81) and USA (54). Numbers in the parentheses are ratios for the top country. All countries on Google Trend appear on Web of Science, though the rankings are different.
    The case of papers of "circadian rhythm" (from the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017) has latent readers. New Zealand (62), Philippines (54), Pakistan (34), United Arab Emirates (27), Kenya (21), Bangladesh (14) and Romania (9) appear only on Google Trend. These countries have not been ranked at...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: "The preprint dilemma,” 29 Sept. 2017

    Jocelyn Kaiser’s excellent review of the growing use of preprints in biology (“The preprint dilemma,” 29 Sept. 2017) and the accompanying editorial “Preprint ecosystems” missed an important point about preprints in physics. Physicists in many subfields used preprints long before the establishment of the Cornell (then Los Alamos) preprint server. When I was a graduate student in particle physics in the 1980’s, preprints were well established. When we prepared a manuscript for Physical Review, we would also prepare a preprint version, which we would then mail to colleagues, and to a list of the major particle physics research centers around the world. Larger institutions had instituted a numbering system, providing a modicum of citability.

    We also made preprints for write-ups of conference talks. Since bound printed conference proceedings took so long to appear, this was the main channel for propagating preliminary results. Preprints were standard for all of the large experimental collaborations, and for many, if not most theoretical groups

    The process had some drawbacks – it was somewhat clunky and labor intensive, and it was elitist. If you weren’t on the right mailing list, you would miss important results. Otherwise, it was an efficient information conduit, far faster than waiting for journals.

    So, high-energy physicists were already well primed when the arXiv preprint server made its debut. The arXiv server was not a major paradigm...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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