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      Preprints and Scholarly Communication: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of Adoption, Practices, Drivers and Barriers

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          Abstract

          Background: Since 2013, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of preprint servers. Little is known about the position of researchers, funders, research performing organisations and other stakeholders with respect to this fast-paced landscape. In this article, we explore the perceived benefits and challenges of preprint posting, alongside issues including infrastructure and financial sustainability. We also discuss the definition of a ‘preprint’ in different communities, and the impact this has on uptake.

          Methods: This study is based on 38 semi-structured interviews of key stakeholders, based on a purposive heterogeneous sampling approach and undertaken between October 2018 and January 2019. Interviewees were primarily drawn from biology, chemistry and psychology, where use of preprints is growing. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis to identify trends. Interview questions were designed based on Innovation Diffusion Theory, which was also used to interpret our results.

          Results: Participants were conscious of the rising prominence of preprints and cited early and fast dissemination as their most appealing feature. Preprints were also considered to enable broader access to scientific literature and increased opportunities for informal commenting. The main concerns related to the lack of quality assurance and the ‘Ingelfinger rule’. We identified trust as an essential factor in preprint posting, and highlight the enabling role of Twitter in showcasing preprints.

          Conclusions: The preprints landscape is evolving fast, and disciplinary communities are at different stages in the innovation diffusion process. The landscape is characterised by experimentation, which leads to the conclusion that a one-size-fits-all approach to preprints is not feasible. Cooperation and active engagement between the stakeholders involved will play an important role going forward. We share questions for the further development of the preprints landscape, with the most important being whether preprint posting will develop as a publisher- or researcher-centric practice.

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          Most cited references 75

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          Using thematic analysis in psychology

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            Diffusion of innovations

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              Bias in peer review

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data CurationRole: Formal AnalysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project AdministrationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – Review & Editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding AcquisitionRole: MethodologyRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – Review & Editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – Original Draft PreparationRole: Writing – Review & Editing
                Role: Data CurationRole: Formal AnalysisRole: InvestigationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – Review & Editing
                Journal
                F1000Res
                F1000Res
                F1000Research
                F1000Research
                F1000 Research Limited (London, UK )
                2046-1402
                25 November 2019
                2019
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Research Consulting Limited, Nottingham, NG7 2TU, UK
                [2 ]Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S1 4DP, UK
                [1 ]National Information Standards Organization (NISO), Baltimore, MD, USA
                [1 ]School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia
                [1 ]ASAPbio, San Francisco, CA, USA
                [1 ]Institute for Computational Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
                [2 ]Center of Agronomic Research, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (IPAVE-CIAP-INTA), Córdoba, Argentina
                [1 ]ASAPbio, San Francisco, CA, USA
                Research Consulting, UK
                [1 ]Institute for Computational Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
                [2 ]Center of Agronomic Research, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (IPAVE-CIAP-INTA), Córdoba, Argentina
                Research Consulting, UK
                Author notes

                Competing interests: Stephen Pinfield is a member of the F1000 Advisory Board and was the Founding Director of SHERPA between 2002 and 2012 (he has been involved since then in providing external advice to the service). A member of the F1000Research staff was interviewed in the course of this study but had no role in the writing or production of the article.

                Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.

                Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.

                Competing interests: We are employed by ASAPbio, a non-profit organization working to promote the productive use of preprints in the life sciences.

                Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.

                Competing interests: We are employed by ASAPbio, a non-profit that promotes the productive use of preprints in the life sciences.

                Competing interests: N/A

                Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed.

                Competing interests: N/A

                Article
                10.12688/f1000research.19619.2
                6961415
                Copyright: © 2019 Chiarelli A et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Funding
                Funded by: Knowledge Exchange
                This study has been funded by Knowledge Exchange (KE), a group of national organisations from six European countries supporting research infrastructure and services to enable the use of digital technologies to improve higher education and research: CSC in Finland, CNRS in France, DEFF in Denmark, DFG in Germany, Jisc in the UK and SURF in the Netherlands.
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