In scholarly publishing, works are often submitted to journals, are peer-reviewed, and then are published as articles upon successful completion of revisions. This can take many months from beginning to end, and many researchers appreciate the availability of scholarship more quickly. This is where preprints come in. Preprints are the works in their submitted form prior to actual peer review.
The benefits of preprints include:
- The research community having access to research data sooner than the possibly very lengthy article publication process, thus accelerating the pace of the production of new scholarly knowledge;
- Speeding up the research process for the research community as a whole with the community is often able to comment on preprints;
- Affording authors the ability to stake a claim to their work (many preprints have DOIs, or digital object identifiers to establish when they made their advances);
- Affording early career authors the opportunity to show evidence of productivity important to the tenure and promotion process; and
- Being able to see null or negative results, and other valuable research that traditional journals typical avoid.
Thus, while preprints are not perfect examples of scholarly communication (Remember: they are generally not peer reviewed), the can be a valuable tool for the research community in many different fields.