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A Primer on Preprints

COVID-19 sparked many changes in our lives, but one that you may not have noticed is a sharp rise in the number of preprints being published. What is a preprint? According to medRxiv, they are “preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review.” Because they have not been peer reviewed, preprints should be used with caution, but there are several very good reasons to include them in your research. For example, they are an excellent way to access cutting edge research, which is part of the reason why their use jumped during COVID-19.

Preprints are not a new form of communication in research. In fact, arXive – another preprint publisher from Cornell University, has been publishing them since 1991. Even so, many people are still unsure about what preprints are, how they can be used, and what where they can find them. The National Library of Medicine now has a short, online, tutorial called “Preprints: Accelerating Research” that answers these questions and provides suggestions for great preprint-related resources to use. It is free for anyone to use.

If you still have questions about preprints or need assistance in searching for them, please Ask Dana for a librarian to assist you.