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Preprint servers are websites that enable scientists to make their findings immediately available to the scientific community before they submit them to scientific journals. This speeds up research by allowing other experts in the field to begin building on the work immediately. It also allow researchers to provide their employers and funding agencies with early evidence of productivity, as well as receive feedback that helps them improve draft manuscripts. Manuscripts posted on a preprint server are not peer-reviewed, edited, or typeset before being posted online. However, all articles undergo a basic screening process for offensive and/or non-scientific content and for material that might pose a health or biosecurity risk. Authors can submit revised versions of an article at any time but each version is permanently archived on the site and cannot be removed.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory operates two preprint servers: bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), which focuses on basic research in the life sciences; and medRxiv (pronounced “med-archive”), which focuses on clinical research and is a partnership between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, BMJ and Yale University. Both were inspired by arXIv (pronounced “archive”), a server heavily used by physicists and mathematicians that is hosted by Cornell University.

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News & Notes

Accelerating Communication between Scientists at the Yale School of Medicine

Yale Medicine, 2021 Issue 167

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Yale affiliates’ preprint service dramatically speeds the availability of medical research.

When scientists submit a paper to a journal for publication, their next step is to wait for the reviewers’ comments and the journal’s final verdict. The clock ticks; and in the meantime, the results remain locked from the public eye for months. Many researchers complain that the process delays the opportunity to obtain feedback from others and foster collaboration.

An XML repository of all bioRxiv articles is now available for text and data mining

April 20, 2020

bioRxiv and medRxiv provide free and unrestricted access to all articles posted on their servers. We believe this applies not only to human readers but also to machine analysis of the content. A growing variety of resources are being created to facilitate this. bioRxiv metadata are made available via a number of dedicated RSS feeds and APIs. Simplified summary statistics covering the content and usage are also available.

Bulk access to the full text of bioRxiv articles for the purposes of text and data mining (TDM) is now available via a dedicated Amazon S3 resource.

See details of this TDM resource and how to access it.

An NIH portfolio of COVID-19-related preprints and publications

April 17, 2020

Preprints from bioRxiv and medRxiv are included in the iSearch COVID-19 portfolio created by the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis. The portfolio is a daily-updated, expert-curated comprehensive collection of publications and preprints related to the SARS CoV 2 pandemic. It includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv, permitting users to explore and analyze advances in COVID-19 research as they accumulate in real time.

Rapid sharing of new scientific information on COVID-19

April 6, 2020

On March 31st, 2020, bioRxiv and medRxiv co-founder Richard Sever was one of four panelists in a webinar sponsored by ASAPbio and the Knowledge Futures Group on new ways of sharing scientific information during the coronavirus pandemic via preprints, rapid peer review, and more.

How Should Journalists Report on Preprints During a Pandemic?

April 2, 2020

Making preprints freely available to the public has many benefits but journalists may misinterpret preprint results, overlook context critical to understanding, and base news coverage on preliminary findings that might be wrong. In a pandemic, when the public needs accurate information, these problems are particularly acute. bioRxiv and medRxiv co-founder John Inglis contributed advice to a tipsheet for journalists on covering preprints written by Denise-Marie Ordway and published by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School.

COVID-19 Communication at the Speed of Science

April 3, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, researchers around the world mobilized to understand its origins, the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the epidemiology of the disease as it moved across the globe. The preprint servers bioRxiv and medRxiv are vital sources of new research results straight from the laboratory, as bioRxiv and medRxiv co-founder Richard Sever describes in an interview with the science magazine Nautilus

A continually updated collection of COVID-19 preprints from both bioRxiv and medRxiv

March 17, 2020

bioRxiv and medRxiv preprints on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 are now listed on a special collection page that is linked from each site (medRxiv and bioRxiv). The collection is curated by the servers’ staff and will be continually updated as papers are posted to the server. Each paper is linked to its page on the respective server, where on-site comments and links to off-site discussion of the paper can be found. The collection page can also be accessed directly.

bioRxiv preprints are included in a comprehensive database of COVID-19 literature requested by the U.S. government

March 16, 2020

Preprints from bioRxiv (and medRxiv) are included in the new machine-readable COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Allen Institute for AI, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), Microsoft, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Requested by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the dataset is the most extensive, machine-readable coronavirus literature collection yet available for data and text mining. Georgetown University coordinated the collaborators. Microsoft identified worldwide scientific efforts and results, CZI Meta identified relevant bioRxiv and medRxiv preprints, NLM provided access to journal literature, and the Allen Institute assembled the database.

A Roadmap for Transparent and FAIR Preprints in Biology and Medicine

January 30, 2020

On January 20 and 21, 2020, the not-for-profit ASAPbio organization convened a workshop on improving the discoverability, reuse, and interoperability of preprints in the life and biomedical sciences. bioRxiv and medRxiv co-founders John Inglis and Richard Sever and medRxiv co-founder Theo Bloom were among the 30 attendees from preprint servers, publishers, funders, and standards, indexing, and metadata infrastructure. Two short reports on the workshop and the next steps in this initiative are now available: