Academic publishing is a very lengthy process, as such a number of disciplines have started uploading articles on to preprint platforms. The physics community developed preprints over 20 years ago but it has only started to be accepted in the life sciences relatively recently. The idea of preprints is that manuscripts are made publicly available so that the author can receive informed comments and the research can be more widely disseminated.

Proponents argue that preprints improve the visibility of the research, establish a record of priority, improve accessibility, do not prevent later formal publication, and do not lead to scooping.

Critics caution that preprints may allow others to steal research ideas, diminish the overall quality of scientific publishing, create an overload of information, and could lead to the spread of misinformation or pseudoscience through unverified results, especially in the field of biomedicine.

A number of funders now accept preprints in applications e.g. the NIH, The Wellcome Trust, the Simons Foundation, the Human Frontiers Science Program, Medical Research Council (MRC UK), the Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

There are a number of different platforms that publish life sciences preprints, these vary in terms of what type of manuscript they will accept (draft, final) and what type of research they will publish e.g. bioRxiv does not accept any clinical research except epidemiology and certain trial results.

Preprints are linked to Open Science because they are Open Access publications, freely accessible to everyone. They are also, potentially, a way of making research more open to comment and input from citizen scientists, patient advocates, or the public in general.

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