Skip to main content

Review of "The use and acceptability of preprints in health and social care settings: a scoping review"

Published onAug 13, 2023
Review of "The use and acceptability of preprints in health and social care settings: a scoping review"
key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
The use and acceptability of preprints in health and social care settings: a scoping review

Background: Preprints are open and accessible scientific manuscript or report that is shared publicly, through a preprint server, before being submitted to a journal. The value and importance of preprints has grown since its contribution during the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funders and publishers are establishing their position on the use of preprints, in grant applications and publishing models. However, the evidence supporting the use and acceptability of preprints varies across funders, publishers, and researchers. The scoping review explored the current evidence on the use and acceptability of preprints in health and social care settings by publishers, funders, and the research community throughout the research lifecycle. Methods: A scoping review was undertaken with no study or language limits. The search strategy was limited to the last five years (2017-2022) to capture changes influenced by COVID-19 (e.g., accelerated use and role of preprints in research). The review included international literature, including grey literature, and two databases were searched: Scopus and Web of Science (24 August 2022). Results: 379 titles and abstracts and 193 full text articles were assessed for eligibility. Ninety-eight articles met eligibility criteria and were included for full extraction. For barriers and challenges, 26 statements were grouped under four main themes (e.g., volume/growth of publications, quality assurance/trustworthiness, risks associated to credibility, and validation). For benefits and value, 34 statements were grouped under six themes (e.g., openness/transparency, increased visibility/credibility, open review process, open research, democratic process/systems, increased productivity/opportunities). Conclusions: Preprints provide opportunities for rapid dissemination but there is a need for clear policies and guidance from journals, publishers, and funders. Cautionary measures are needed to maintain the quality and value of preprints, paying particular attention to how findings are translated to the public. More research is needed to address some of the uncertainties addressed in this review.

As a signatory of Publish Your Reviews, I have committed to publish my peer reviews alongside the preprint version of an article. For more information, see

The authors have made a number of important improvements to their paper, which I appreciate. However, there are quite a few changes in the paper that have resulted in sentences that are unclear or not entirely correct. I therefore would like to suggest a number of additional improvements that can be made to the paper.

“(or a requirement of the journal policy to submit the manuscript to a preprint server as part of that process)”: This is not entirely clear. Consider rephrasing this, for instance as follows: “(or at the time of submission to a journal, as part of the submission process of the journal)”.

“(such as a report)”: I am not sure what the authors mean by this. It might be better to delete this.

“a challenge felt by those submitting a peer reviewed journal article to a publisher”: This is slightly confusing, since at the time of submission to a publisher peer review typically has not yet taken place. My suggestion is to rephrase this, for instance as follows: “a challenge for articles published in a peer reviewed journal”.

“since the COVID-19 pandemic, different approaches to peer reviewing, preprints are starting to be increasingly considered by publishers along with funding organisations”: This sentence is unclear and needs to be fixed.

“the absence of peer review of manuscripts or reports submitted to a preprint server has led to the withdrawal of several preprints”: Like in my earlier review, I object against this statement. There is no way to know whether peer review would have identified the problems in a manuscript and would have prevented the need for the manuscript to be withdrawn. Ref. 3 also doesn’t seem to provide support for the authors’ claim.

“However, it is important to note that peer reviewed journal articles can also be withdrawn or retracted due to oversight during the peer review process conducted by the journal itself (editors choosing the peer reviewers).”: This sentence is unclear. Retraction or withdrawal of an article typically is NOT “due to oversight during the peer review process conducted by the journal itself”. It happens after peer review has been completed and after an article has been published in a journal, and it typically happens as a result of concerns raised by readers or by the authors themselves.

“(not all publishers stipulate processing your manuscript on a preprint server prior to, or as part of the submission process to a journal)”: This is not clear. Please clarify.

“the types of discrepancies are common between both preprints and a peer reviewed journal article”: It is not clear what types of discrepancies this is about.

“Due to the limited evidence found in the review on the acceptability and use of preprints in grant applications, research is needed to clearly understand what position funding organisations are taking and how it is perceived and accepted by the research community”: I am not sure whether it is correct to say the evidence is ‘limited’. In my earlier review, I made the suggestion to add a reference to the following statement by cOAlition S: The authors state that they have included this reference in their revised paper. However, I cannot find the reference. I would like to suggest again to add the reference, since it provides an important example of the increasing level of support from funders for preprinting.

“(using other platforms such as Dimensions)”: I don’t see the relevance of the reference to Dimensions in this sentence. My suggestion is to delete it.

“Preprints are therefore not a substitute for peer reviewed journal publications”: I agree that preprints are not a substitute for peer reviewed publications, but I disagree that a peer reviewed publication needs to be a publication in a journal. Increasingly peer review is also performed outside the context of journals (e.g., Peer Community In).

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?