Faculty Support of Open Access: An Interview with David Sarwer

No matter what discipline you are in, it is hard to ignore the major shift from traditional journal publishing to open access publishing. In honor of Open Access Week 2017, we are celebrating faculty at Temple University who support open scholarship in a variety of ways.

One of these faculty members is David Sarwer, the Associate Dean for Research, and Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at the College of Public Health. Sarwer is also the Editor-in-Chief of an open access journal, Obesity Science & Practice. He sat down with Biomedical & Research Services Librarian (Ginsburg Health Sciences Library) Stephanie Roth to discuss his experiences as the editor of a new open access journal.

Please tell us more about Obesity Science & Practice. How did you become involved as the Editor-in-Chief?

Obesity Science & Practice is a Wiley journal. They publish four other journals in the area of obesity and were quick to recognize that there was an increasing number of high quality papers not making the cut in those journals. When they approached me about serving as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief, I was still skeptical about publishing in open access journals. The more the Wiley team taught me about their approach, I came to believe that open access publishing was likely to play a significant role in the future of academic publishing.

What gave you confidence to believe in open access?

The early success of the journal has given all of us a great deal of confidence. We have quickly moved to publishing four issues a year. We now receive a steady stream of articles that are either direct submissions to the journal or are referred to us by other Wiley obesity journals. Many of the papers published in the journal have come from internationally recognized authorities in the field of obesity. All of these developments give me a great deal of confidence about the future of the journal and open access publishing more generally.

When you first heard about open access publishing what were your immediate thoughts?

Like everyone else, I was familiar with the old school publishing model. So, I was hesitant and skeptical. The Wiley team did a great job to make me comfortable that open access represented the path to the future.

Did you ever publish to an open access journal prior to becoming the editor of one?

No, but I wouldn’t hesitate to publish in a high quality, reputable open access journal today.

Now as an editor, what are your thoughts about open access publishing?

I am very impressed with open access compared to traditional publishing and especially by our journal. The speed at which we are able to process papers and push them out to our readers is a great strength. We have published a number of high quality, impactful papers in the field. Several of them have received mass media coverage as well, which is an important, yet often overlooked aspect of academic productivity.

What has been your experience with OA journals vs. traditional publishing?

I haven’t noticed much of a difference. Many non open access journals are now putting their papers online. That shows the potential growth and acceptability of open access in the future.

What has contributed to more authors embracing your journal?

It has helped that Wiley is well recognized for their journals. That has helped to increase our journal’s credibility. Wiley has also done a good job identifying high quality submissions that were rejected from one of their four other major obesity journals. When a paper is referred to us from one of those journals, we often use the previous reviews to inform the editorial process and decision making. This has allowed us to move papers through the review process quickly.

What are your future plans for the journal?

I would like to stay on our current path of success. We recently moved to publishing four issues a year and continue to receive a steady stream of papers. I would like to see the first impact factor be appropriately robust and to have it grow over time.

Do you provide tools for graduate students or residents to publish in your journal?

At the journal level, we aren’t doing anything specific for graduate students. We do receive a fair amount of submissions from those who may be working on their first papers and launching their own independent careers and that is also encouraging.

What tips would you give to researchers looking to publish in an OA journal?

I would like to encourage them to make sure they don’t discount them. Be thoughtful. Make sure the journal is a legitimate outlet, and not one associated with predatory publishing. Researchers should see open access as an important and central part of academic publishing in the future.

2017-2018 Open Access Publishing Fund

“Open” by Russell Davies is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

We are excited to announce that the Libraries will continue our Open Access Publishing Fund for 2017-2018. The fund is open to all current Temple faculty members. Current postdoctoral fellows and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

The Libraries’ goal in starting an Open Access Publishing Fund is to promote new forms of scholarly communication. There are a rising number of high-quality open access publishers (see publication eligibility below for more information) whose business model depends on the fees they collect from authors (often referred to as article processing charges, or APCs). Authors are increasingly interested in making their work available open access, as it helps them reach new and wider audiences. However, the costs involved can be a deterrent. We hope this Fund will help remove this financial barrier, encouraging authors to experiment with new and innovative publishing models. Over fifty universities across the country currently maintain some kind of Open Access Publishing Fund.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, Libraries will transfer funds to authors’ research fund or departmental account. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors or pay publishers directly.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a current Temple University faculty member OR a current postdoctoral fellow/graduate student with a faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Publications in “hybrid” open access journals will not be supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.
  • Because the Libraries already cover 50% of the APC for BioMed Central journals, these journals are not eligible.

Additional Limitations

  • Each applicant may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year. This amount may be split across multiple applications so long as funds are available.
  • For articles with multiple Temple authors, the per article payment is capped at $3,000.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. Co-authors from outside of Temple are not supported. If an article includes non-Temple authors, the APC will be divided equally among all authors and then the Temple authors’ portion will be funded. For example, if the APC is $2000, and there are four authors, two of whom are from Temple, the authors can apply for $1000 from the fund ($500 each).

Attribution Requirement

  • Authors who receive support must include the following statement in their acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the Temple University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Download a copy of the application form here.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

Your Preprint Questions, Answered

“Early bird” by Katy Warner is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Last year, we noted that preprints were “having a moment.” Since that time, a number of new discipline-specific preprint servers have launched (PsyArXiv, LawArXiv, and engrXiv), and more are on the way (Chemrxiv, PaleorXiv, and SportRxiv, to name a few). In addition, funding organizations, such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, have begun to provide financial support for preprint servers. Still doubt the rising popularity of preprints? There’s even a new app for rating preprints in the life sciences called Papr, which calls itself “Tinder for preprints.”

Are you thinking of posting a preprint? Here are some things you might be wondering about:

What exactly is a preprint?

A preprint is usually defined as a piece of scholarship that has not been peer reviewed or formally published. Many preprints do go on to be published in academic journals. One 2013 study, for example, found that 64% of the work that is posted in arXiv has been published in academic journals. However, there is also small group of scholars who have begun posting what they call “final version preprints.”

Why should I post a preprint of my work?

Posting a preprint allows you to get your research out into the world quickly and easily. That’s good for the advancement of knowledge, but it’s also good because it enables you to position yourself as the originator of a certain claim or technique, even before your article is formally published. Posting a preprint is also a great way to get feedback on your work from others, and make your scholarship even better.

Can I still submit my manuscript to a journal if I previously posted it on a preprint server?

In most cases, yes. A growing number of journals welcome manuscript submissions that first appeared as preprints. BioRxiv, for example, has a manuscript transfer process which makes it easy for researchers to submit their preprint to over 120 scholarly journals. That having been said, there are still a few journals that consider the posting of preprints to be “prior publication.” Make sure to read the policies of the journal you are interested in submitting to. Wikipedia also has a list preprint policies by journal.

How will people find my preprint?

Many preprint servers assign DOIs (digital object identifiers) to preprints, which make them easier to discover (although the popular arXiv does not). In addition, a number of preprint servers are indexed by Google Scholar. Nevertheless, if you want people to read your preprint, you should be prepared to do your own promotion. Use social media to draw attention to your work.

How should I license my preprint?

As the author, you automatically own the copyright to your work. However, adding a Creative Commons (CC) license tells people how your preprint can be reused. Some preprint servers require a CC license for any work that is posted. Others, such as SSRN or Humanities Commons CORE, do not. We recommend adding a CC license to all preprints you post.

Can I cite a preprint?

Yes. If you have evaluated a preprint and find it to useful to your research, definitely go ahead and cite it. Just make sure to note in your citation that it is a preprint. Also make sure you are citing the version that you actually used. One caveat: there are a few journals that do not allow researchers to cite preprints, although this policy seems to be changing. If you are unsure, ask your editor. Writing a grant application? The NIH recently announced that investigators are free to cite their own preprints in research proposals or projects reports.

Have another question about preprints that we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

2016-2017 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

“Open” by Auntie P is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In the fall of 2016 the Libraries launched a pilot Open Access Publishing Fund to support faculty and graduate students who want to publish their research in an open access journal but do not have the money to do so. We have profiled a few of our recipients in past posts on this blog. We are pleased to announce the complete list of 2016-2017 recipients. Congrats to all!

College of Liberal Arts

Eunice Chen, Lauren Alloy, Susan Murray, Jared O’Garro-Moore, Angelina Yiu, and Kalina Eneva, Psychology

Kevin A. Henry and Allison L. Swiecki-Sikora, Geography and Urban Studies

Joshua Klugman, Sociology/Psychology

College of Education

Doug Lombardi and Janelle Bailey

College of Science and Technology

Xiaoxing Xi, Narendra Acharya, Matthaeus Wolak, Teng Tan, and Namhoon Lee, Physics

Xiaoxing Xi, Teng Tan, and Matthaeus Wolak, Physics

College of Engineering

Fei Ren and Bosen Quan

Shenqiang Ren, Beibei Xu, Himanshu Chakraborty, Vivek K. Yadav, Zhuolei Zhang, and Michael L. Klein (Physics)

School of Medicine

Andrew Gassman and Judy Pan

Andrew Gassman and Richard Tyrell

Jian Huang, Chao Wu, and Hong Wang

Parth Rali

He Wang, Baidarbhi Chakraborty, Linda Mamone, Shiguang Lui, and Nirag C. Jhala

School of Dentistry

Vinodh Bhoopathi and Ting Dai

More News from the OA Publishing Fund

Joshua Klugman, Associate Professor of Psychology and Sociology, is one of the latest recipients of the Libraries’ pilot Open Access Publishing Fund, which provides financial support to Temple faculty who publish their research in open access journals. Klugman’s article, “Essential or Expendable Supports? Assessing the Relationship between School Climate and Student Outcomes” was just published by the open access journal Sociological Science. Sociological Science was launched in 2014 by sociologists from Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and other leading universities. The journal aims to get cutting-edge sociological research out in the world as quickly as possible.

Klugman’s article contradicts the findings of the influential book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago (2010), which argues that school climate has a significant impact on students’ academic outcomes. Klugman finds that a better school climate does not make much of a difference when it comes to outcomes like test scores and graduation rates. He concludes, however, that it could be that school climate matters, but that it is just very difficult to measure. As a result, Klugman suggests that schools might think twice before spending significant time and resources on climate surveys.

We asked Professor Klugman why he was interested in making his work openly available. He told us: “My article has important things to say to school administrators and policymakers (namely, they should not waste their time and money on school climate surveys). Sociological Science is a reputable journal, run by top sociologists, and the fact it is open access means these decision-makers can access my article and come to their own conclusions.”

To learn more about Professor Klugman’s research, read his recent interview with Temple’s College of Liberal Arts. To learn more about the Libraries’ OA Publishing Fund, click here.

First Recipients of Pilot OA Publishing Fund Chosen

mgb2

The Libraries support Open Access publishing in a number of different ways. Recently, we launched a pilot Open Access Publishing Fund, which provides money to help Temple researchers cover the costs associated with publishing in an Open Access journal. We are happy to announce that our first recipients of the fund come from Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physics Xiaoxing Xi’s research group. You can read their article, “MgB2 ultrathin films fabricated by hybrid physical chemical vapor deposition and ion milling,” published in the most recent issue of APL Materials, here.

The paper’s lead author, Narendra Acharya, took the time to tell us a little bit about the group’s work: “Magnesium diboride (MgB2) is a superconducting material that allows electricity to be passed through it without any loss unlike in normal wires we use in households. Due to the unique property of this material, it can be used in various sensitive electronic devices. Our particular goal was to grow and fabricate a very thin MgB2 film. This thin film is then used to make hot electron bolometers and superconducting nanowires. Hot electron bolometers are used in astronomy to detect invisible radiation called THz frequency (this frequency is similar to a radio signal but more difficult to detect) coming out of our galaxy or interstellar bodies. By detecting these THz frequencies scientists can get information about any elements or molecules such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, or water present in any planets or solar system in our galaxy or beyond. If present, these elements may signify the possibility of life. Since THz frequency is emitted by many materials, these devices can also be used to detect various materials in a security check system. Similarly, superconducting nanowires can be used to speed up satellite communication. In our paper we present the growth and preparation of ultrathin MgB2 film for use in such devices. At Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists have already demonstrated an improved performance of these devices by using our films.”

The authors told us that they wanted to submit their work to APL Materials because it is a highly regarded new journal in the field. In addition, they liked the idea of making their research freely available to people across the globe, especially because MgB2 ultrathin films have many potential uses.

Congratulations to all the authors on this innovative research! Be sure to check back with our blog in the future to learn about other recipients of the fund.

New Pilot Open Access Publishing Fund

open

“Teaching Open Source Practices, Version 4.0” by opensource.com is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

NOTE: These are the guidelines for the 2016-2017 OA Publishing Fund. To see the new guidelines for 2017-2018, go here.

We are excited to announce that the Libraries have established a pilot Open Access Publishing Fund for 2016-2017. The fund is open to all Temple tenured or tenure-track faculty members. Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one tenured or tenure-track faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

The Libraries’ goal in starting an Open Access Publishing Fund is to promote new forms of scholarly communication. There are a rising number of high-quality open access publishers whose business model depends on the fees they collect from authors (often referred to as article processing charges, or APCs). Authors are increasingly interested in making their work available open access, as it helps them reach new and wider audiences. However, the costs involved can be a deterrent. We hope this Fund will help remove this financial barrier, encouraging authors to experiment with new and innovative publishing models. Over fifty universities across the country currently maintain some kind of Open Access Publishing Fund.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, payment will be made directly to the publisher, upon receipt of an official invoice from the publisher. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors.

Some details to note:

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a Temple University tenured or tenure-track faculty member OR a postdoctoral fellow/graduate student with a tenured or tenure-track faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Publications in “hybrid” open access journals will not be supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.

Additional Limitations

  • Each author may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. That is, if more than one author from Temple applies for funding support for the same article, the APC will be divided equally. Co-authors not affiliated with Temple are not supported.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

What to Know About “Predatory” Publishers

predatorypublishers

“Little roar” by Becker1999 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

UPDATE: Since this post originally appeared, Beall’s List has been taken down.

Recently, the term “predatory” publisher has become a buzzword among many in academia. “Predatory” publishers run online, open access (OA) journals that will accept almost any paper submitted. They offer little in terms of copy editing or peer review. Journal websites may include false information about impact factors, editorial board members, and other affiliations. “Predatory” publishers often spam authors via e-mail to encourage them to submit their work.

These publishers profit from this scheme by charging authors various publication fees. Authors are willing to pay such fees because of the “publish or perish” culture of academia. They are usually unaware that they are dealing with a “predatory” publisher, or may not become aware until their article has been published.

The term “predatory” publisher was coined by controversial librarian Jeffrey Beall in 2010. Beall currently maintains a list of suspected “predatory” publishers on his website. Because not all “predatory” publishers on Beall’s list are alike (and in fact, some may not be predatory at all), many scholarly communications experts prefer to use the terms “questionable” or “low-quality.”

In addition to Beall’s List, a number of high-profile stings have tried to expose the questionable practices of these publishers and their journals by submitting nonsense or significantly flawed papers. One Harvard medical researcher, for example, submitted an article to 37 questionable journals entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?: The Surgical and Neoplastic Role of Cacao Extract in Breakfast Cereals.” The actual text of the article was randomly generated. 17 journals accepted the paper, promising to publish it if he would pay the $500 fee. Of course, it’s important to note that this is not a problem limited to OA journals–traditional subscription journals have also been known to publish faked work. To see a few examples, check out the blog Retraction Watch, which monitors all of the retractions in scientific journals.

Whatever you want to call them, hundreds of “predatory” publishers do exist, and according to a 2015 study, the number is growing rapidly. Last Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made it clear that they are paying attention to this phenomenon: they filed a complaint against well-known “predatory” publisher OMICS Group. OMICS Group publishes over 700 open-access journals in a wide variety of disciplines, from business and management to chemistry to political science. According to the FTC, OMICS Group is not upfront with scholars about the publication fees its journals charges. In addition, OMICS Group journals do not allow authors to withdraw their articles. The FTC also pointed out that a subsidiary of OMICS Group runs scam conferences where they advertise the appearance of academics who never agreed to participate.

So exactly how concerned should scholars be about this phenomenon? In general, “predatory” publishers are not a huge threat to most scholars, especially if you do your research before submitting your article to a journal or agreeing to serve on a journal editorial board. Asking your colleagues if they have heard of the journal before is a good first step. Be aware, however, that many OA journals are just starting out, so they may not have the same name recognition as top journals in the field that have been around for decades.

Second, check out the journal’s website. Do you recognize any of the scholars on the editorial board? If so, do they list their work for the journal on their own faculty profile page? Are any author fees clearly stated somewhere (if you are in the humanities, know that most OA humanities journals do not charge any publishing fees)? Remember: just because a journal charges a fee, does not make it predatory. Many reputable OA journals rely on article processing charges (APCs) to recoup their costs.

Finally, check out the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to see if your publisher or journal is listed. In order to be included in the DOAJ, applications are reviewed by four different people. And in May of this year, the DOAJ announced it was taking additional steps to make sure that the directory is a trustworthy source of information.

Still not sure if the journal you are interested in publishing in passes muster? Contact the Libraries for help.

Project to Watch: SocArXiv

socarxiv

In a recent post, we argued that preprints are having a moment. Here’s further proof: this week, the Center for Open Science and the University of Maryland launched a new repository for social science research, called SocArXiv (the name comes in part from the well-known preprint repository arXiv). Currently, there is a temporary home for the repository here, with a more robust platform coming in the near future. In addition to preprints, SocArXiv also accepts conference papers, working papers, datasets and code. The project is being led by Philip N. Cohen, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. The steering committee includes scholars, librarians, and open access advocates.

Interested in submitting? Just e-mail socarxiv-Preprint@osf.io from your primary e-mail address. Put the title of your work in the subject line, and the abstract in the body of your e-mail. Then attach the work as a PDF or Word file. Finally, hit send. Your scholarship should appear on the site shortly and you should be automatically registered for an Open Science Framework account. Use this account to go into the page for your work on the site and add any relevant tags. Just make sure that you have the rights to anything you post. If you’re not sure, check your publication agreement or search SHERPA/RoMEO, a database of publisher copyright and self-archiving policies. And remember: this method of submission is only temporary. Once the permanent SocArXiv platform is up and running we will update this post.

Some researchers may wonder why they should post their work to SocArXiv, when there are so many other options, including another open access repository, the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). SSRN was founded in 1994 by Wayne Marr, a professor of finance, and Michael Jensen, and professor of business administration. It includes scholarship from a range of disciplines, from accounting to economics to political science. The business model of SSRN has always been different than most other open access repositories. Unlike arXiV, which is based at Cornell University and funded by grants and library support, SSRN is a privately-held corporation. While all deposited papers are free for users to read, SSRN also offers paid content to users through its partnerships with other publishers (such as Wiley-Blackwell). In May of this year, a major change came to SSRN when the platform was bought by Elsevier, a large Dutch company that publishes some of the world’s top journals. Elsevier also owns the reference manager Mendeley. SSRN’s management claims that all the scholarship on the site will remain free. They also argue that Elsevier’s ownership will only make SSRN better, providing them with the resources they need to make much needed improvements in the design and functionality of the site. Many scholars, librarians, and other experts, however, are worried. They wonder what Elsevier will do with all the scholarly data it now owns, and how the company will try to monetize that data. Similar concerns have been raised about other popular scholarly sharing platforms, including Academia.edu and ResearchGate. Kevin Smith, the Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas, has called this trend “the commodification of the professoriate.”  SocArXiv, then, offers a non-commercial alternative that puts scholars’ interests first.

The Past, Present, and Future of Preprints

arXiv

Preprints seem to be having a moment. Last week, the registration agency CrossRef announced that they will soon allow members to assign DOIs (digital object identifiers) to preprints, just as they do for published articles. In making this change, CrossRef is acknowledging that preprints are an important part of the scholarly publishing ecosystem. In addition, back in March, a group of biologists made it into the New York Times for advocating for the use of preprints in their own discipline. At the same time, many academics still don’t know much about preprints or why they matter.

In general, a preprint is a piece of scholarship that has not yet been peer reviewed (and thus, hasn’t been published in a scholarly journal). It is related to a postprint, which has been peer reviewed, but has not been properly formatted by the publisher. Confusingly, the term preprint is sometimes also used to describe a postprint. Preprints have a long history, but people have been trying to collect and distribute them in a more formal way since the 1940s. The first online archive for preprints, arXiv, was launched in 1991 by Paul A. Ginsparg, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (Ginsparg is now a professor at Cornell University). Ginsparg hoped that arXiv (originally called xxx.lanl.gov) would help “level the research playing field,” by granting anyone with an internet connection access to the latest scholarship in high-energy physics, for free. He also knew it would help researchers get their work out into the world faster than ever before. Almost twenty-five years later, arXiv hosts over 1 million preprints from disciplines including mathematics, computer science and statistics. As New York University Professor of Physics David Hogg noted in a recent Wired article, “When I give seminars, I give the arXiv numbers for my papers. Why? Because I know that my arXiv papers are available to any audience member, no matter what their institutional affiliation or library support.” Thanks in part to the success of arXiv, scholars in other disciplines are now considering making drafts of their work public, including those in the humanities. In CORE, the Modern Language Association’s new digital repository, 25% of the articles are preprints or postprints.

So, why should academics, particularly those outside of the sciences, care about preprints? These days, more and more scholars are sharing copies of their work online (see our recent post on Academia.edu). Since most scholars do not own the copyright to their work, however, they may not have permission from the publisher to do so. One way to get around this is by sharing a preprint. While the vast majority of publishers will not allow a scholar to make the final version of their article (also known as the publisher’s version/PDF) freely available, they often allow the sharing of a preprint and/or postprint through an institutional repository or a personal website. According to SHERPA/RoMEO, a database of journal policies, 79% of publishers formerly allow for some kind of self-archiving.

It’s important to point out that not everyone in the academy agrees that the posting of preprints is a good idea. Some scholars worry that if they share their ideas too early, they might get stolen. Others correctly note that a preprint is not a substitute for a peer-reviewed journal article (which remains the gold standard for getting tenure). Finally, there are more general concerns about sharing work before it has been thoroughly vetted or revised. However, one recent study compared over 9,000 preprints from arXiv to their final published versions. The authors ultimately found that there were very few differences between the two versions.

Have you shared a preprint of your work online before? Why or why not?