Dataset Open Access

Practices and policies of preprint platforms for life and biomedical sciences

Penfold, Naomi C; Murphy, Fiona L M; Kirkham, Jamie J

Given the increase in the use and profile of preprint servers – and alternative publishing hybrid platforms such as F1000 Research – in the life sciences, it is increasingly important to identify how many such servers and hybrids exist, to describe their scope in terms of the scientific disciplines they cover, and to compare and contrast their characteristics and policies.

We surveyed forty-four (44) platforms that host preprints relevant to life and biomedical sciences and that were active online and accepting submissions on 25 June 2019. Information on preprint platform policies, features and practices was collected through online research by the authors and by surveying preprint platform representatives directly. 

Full data sheets include an additional 5 platforms hosted on OSF Preprints (rows 49-53) to fulfil the wider scope for the ASAPbio project, not in disciplinary scope (biology and medical sciences) for the manuscript with Jamie Kirkham.

Tables 1-5: Data (44 platforms, manuscript) are separated into five main tables of information and a list of preprint platform websites for reference.

Table 1: Scope and ownership of each server
Table 2: Content-specific characteristics and information relating to submission, journal transfer options, and external discoverability
Table 3: Screening, moderation, and permanence of content
Table 4: Usage metrics and other features
Table 5: Metadata
Preprint platform websites

Data for each platform are listed as ‘Verified’ in the tables if these tables (V1.0 or V2.0) were seen and approved by a platform representative between January 13 and January 27, 2020.

Original online survey: a blank copy of the original survey form used by online researchers (the authors) and supplied pre-filled (or empty, in some cases) to preprint platform representatives for verification (or completion, in some cases). 

Final data: survey data is presented in .txt and .xlsx, as follows:

  • Row 1: Heading (where field is included in manuscript tables, the heading presented here replaces any heading used in original survey. All columns are presented in the order the information was requested on the original survey form, with some supplementary columns added and columns removed (detailed below).
  • Row 2: Schema or description of field
  • Row 3: Whether and where included in manuscript tables. For supporting information for table data (e.g. source information, URLs), the table location for supported data is indicated in brackets, e.g. (Table 2) and supporting information is not included in tables. Data included in manuscript tables is presented in its final form, which in some cases is simplified from the original survey data. This simplified version of the data was presented to platform representatives for additional verification (v1.0/v2.0 verification). Data not included in manuscript tables is presented here as verified by platform representatives and/or found online. Some columns from the original survey have been removed due to the information not being informative or useful: specifically, Print ISSN (not reported for any platform); End date (no platforms have an end date; although two platforms stopped accepting submissions after survey completed; Personal contact information for platform representative(s) has been removed).
  • Rows 4 onwards: data for each preprint platform (44 included in manuscript (rows 4-47), plus 5 additional OSF platforms (rows 48-52)
  • Columns 3-6 (D-G) report online research and verification information and Column 13 (M) reports an additional data field (number of articles) – these are supplementary to the original survey columns
  • Verification status: Released V1/V2 data applies to data included in manuscript tables (as indicated in row 3); Online survey data applies to data used for manuscript tables and also to original survey data included here but not included in manuscript tables (‘Not included’ in row 3)
  • Note that data fields are presented as individual columns in these sheets, while some entries in Tables 1-5 combine several data fields.

These data were collected in collaboration and as part of:
i. An ASAPbio project, led by Dr Naomi Penfold, to develop an online directory of preprint platforms
ii. A research project led by Prof Jamie Kirkham
These data are supplementary outputs for both projects.

Data v1.0 were presented during the ASAPbio January 2020 workshop – see Penfold, Naomi C, & Polka, Jessica. (2020, January). ASAPbio Preprint Platform Directory: 2019 data (presentation) (Version 1.0). Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3626770.

ASAPbio (https://asapbio.org) is a scientist-driven non-profit promoting transparency and innovation in life science communication and receives funding for preprints-related work from: - The Wellcome Trust (UK) - Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (USA) - Howard Hughes Medical Institute (USA) - Simons Foundation (USA) - Medical Research Council (UK) - Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CA) Members of this group were involved in determining the practices, features and policies to survey. More information about this group is at https://asapbio.org/member-advisory-group. A Steering Group collaborating with Dr Kirkham advised on the list of platforms to survey and initial methodology: - Isabelle Boutron, INSERM, U1153 Epidemiology and Biostatistics Sorbonne Paris Cité Research Center (CRESS), Methods of therapeutic evaluation of chronic diseases Team (METHODS), Paris, F-75004 France, and Paris Descartes University, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France - John PA Ioannidis, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA - John R Inglis, bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY 11724, USA The list of platforms and attributes to survey was informed by work by Martyn Rittman (open spreadsheet of preprint servers: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17RgfuQcGJHKSsSJwZZn0oiXAnimZu2sZsWp8Z6ZaYYo/edit?usp=sharing).
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