Open Access is the future of publishing, one way or another. One way that different research communities are doing this is through preprints. These are research articles that are published online prior to the peer review process. The main rationale behind them is that they accelerate research communication, they are free to access, and they are a way to solicit feedback from the broader community while manuscripts are in the formal peer review process.
In Palaeontology, the community has been relatively slow in general to embrace the wider culture of preprints. While the reasons behind this are quite unclear, it would be a real shame to see our field fall behind as others accelerate in their uptake of preprints. For example, in biorXiv, there are only 13 published preprints for Paleontology, and PeerJ Preprints published 25 in 2016 and just 12 so far in 2017.
I think this is fantastic as a start though, and want to thank everyone who has ever published a preprint in helping to get things rolling. Also, it appears that basically none of the fears or concerns people have had about preprints have became real as a result of this.
But I also think we can all do a lot better. We publish so much amazing work as a community, but some times it takes years for that research to see the light of day, and often still much is still hidden behind paywalls.
Recently, the community came together and published a phenomenal piece on the importance of ‘open data’ in digital Palaeontology. Honestly, it warmed my heart to see this after campaigning for open data for the last 5 years in one way or another. I want to see us do the same thing now for preprints. To come together as a community and accelerate research in our field for the good of everyone.
And now, before the same tired arguments are used against preprints, just please browse the list below.
I should really thank the authors of this paper for doing this for me, as it means the main arguments in favour of preprints already exist in a concise format and I don’t have to go through them again.
But consider point 10. Palaeontology is a very niche community and research field. What has worked for the arXiv, socarXiv, LawarXiv etc. won’t necessarily be what is best for us. And this is important. I don’t want to go steam rolling ahead with this unless it is in the best interests of the community. I need feedback and assistance from you all. Even if you’re reading this, and you don’t know how to help, simply having a chat with your colleagues (or me) about this can be helpful.
I want to hear from you, more than I want you to hear from me.
It should be noted though that even some of our flagship journals, like Palaeontology, completely support preprint publication. So do Nature and Science, for the record.
So anyway what we’ve done is set-up paleorXiv, an open source platform for Paleontology preprints, developed in collaboration with the Center for Open Science. It will be launching soon as a way to help encourage the uptake of risk-free, low-cost scholarly communication in our field.
And for this to work, I need your feedback. I’ve already got 3 amazing researchers working with me on this, forming the PaleorXiv steering committee: Jérémy Anquetin, Caitlin Syme, and Jostein Starrfelt. But if you want to join us and help develop the platform and the community behind it, please contact me. If you also have concerns, please let us know.
If you would like to contribute by submitting a preprint in advance of our impending launch, please message me too! We have several already in the pipeline, and would love to kick off with a blast!