Interview: Christopher Brydges

Profile picture for Christopher BrydgesThis is a continuation of a series of blog posts interviewing different authors who have posted to PsyArXiv. The goal of these posts is to spotlight different uses of PsyArXiv and to help the community get to know some of our authors a little better. In this post, Hannah Moshontz, a graduate student at Duke University and a member of the PsyArXiv Steering Committee, interviews Christopher Brydges (@ChrisBrydgesPhD), Postdoctoral Research Associate at Colorado State University who responded to a tweet asking people about unusual uses of PsyArXiv.

Hannah: Can you tell me a bit about your manuscript? What did you find? How does this project relate  to your other work?

Chris: The original study was an undergraduate’s research project that I supervised, examining whether working memory and/or processing speed mediated the association between fluid intelligence and ADHD symptomology in a nonclinical undergraduate student sample. (I’d really like to test this in a clinical sample, but given the time and sample size required for the project it wouldn’t have been feasible for the undergraduate student’s project). We found that working memory, but not processing speed, fully mediated deficits in fluid intelligence associated with ADHD symptoms in this sample. This study was conducted in 2014, and was published in the Journal of Neuropsychology in 2015. The paper that was put on PsyArXiv as a preprint was a reanalysis of this data—rather than examining average reaction time, we looked at variability of reaction time and found that this (and working memory) fully mediated the ADHD–fluid intelligence associations.

My research has always been examining higher-order cognition, particularly developmental aspects of it (typical childhood development, typical aging, and development in children born very preterm) and this was the first time I was supervising a student’s research project, so this project seemed like a good way to conduct a study that was still somewhat in my area of expertise, but was also of some interest/relevance to the student—she’s now working as a clinical psychologist.

Hannah: You mentioned this preprint to me after I tweeted asking people about unusual uses of PsyArXiv, and you mentioned that you uploaded this preprint to make your CV more competitive for a job application. Tell me more about why you decided to post it, and what advantages you expected it to give you on the market. Do you have any evidence that it helped you how you thought it would?

Chris: In late 2017, I was coming towards the end of my contract for my postdoc position at the University of Western Australia—my PI at the time very kindly extended my contract for about 10 weeks, but didn’t have funding for any longer—and I was looking for a new job. I came across the advert for the postdoc position I’m now working in, and after reading the job description, finding the Google Scholar profile of my current PI, the lab website, etc., I had a pretty clear idea of where I could improve my application—in my case, learning about intra-individual variability in response time, what it’s thought to be a measure of, and how to calculate it. I was lucky to have this previously collected data that I could use to try out this new technique. From there, I spent a weekend going through the analyses step by step and writing a draft of the paper before sending it to the two coauthors from the original paper. Once they were happy with it, we put it on PsyArXiv and submitted it for publication.

I wanted it to go onto PsyArXiv because it’s my belief that if I’m going to include absolutely anything on my CV, I need to be able to provide verifiable proof that I have experience in that area/can conduct that particular analysis/can program in that particular language, etc. I don’t think it would’ve been worth nearly as much for me to say “I saw the job description and spent last week learning about intra-individual variability”! I think that my application had to be at least quite strong to begin with, but doing this hopefully showed that I was serious about the job, I’m a fast learner, and productive researcher. My PI has said expressed similar sentiments—my application was strong, but the preprint definitely added a couple of bonus points. Even though I had my own data to do this with, I believe that in the future this will be easier for motivated applicants to do themselves due to the number of open datasets being published now.

Hannah: How did you hear about PsyArXiv? Any general reflections on the value of using it? Any costs or fears related to using PsyArXiv (realized or not)?

Chris: I have quite a few projects on PsyArXiv and the Open Science Framework now, yes—a combination of preprints of papers submitted to peer-reviewed journals, and null results that have been written up to show that we attempted this research. The School of Psychological Science at the University of Western Australia (where my previous postdoc position was) is very progressive in terms of open science, and I heard about PsyArXiv and preprints during a meeting there. My biggest fear has been that I would get an email from someone saying that I’d analysed my data completely incorrectly, that I’m incompetent and should never step foot on university land again—this hasn’t happened yet though, fortunately! It actually means that my research practices have improved—after analysing data, writing everything up, the last thing I do before uploading everything is put all the data in a folder and run the scripts/code to get the results one more time, just to double check. This last check hasn’t caught anything yet, which means that everything I’ve uploaded so far should work and be consistent with the numbers in the papers. No one’s contacted me or anything, though I think I’ve got a few more likes, retweets, and followers on Twitter because I occasionally retweet PsyArXiv-bot when I upload something there.

Thank you, Chris!

Licensing your work on PsyArXiv

By Hannah Moshontz

What is a license?

When you create something, you are its legal owner (i.e., you hold the copyright) until or unless you give it to someone else (e.g., a publisher) or place it in the public domain. Under fair use, other people can legally copy portions of a non-public work without getting permission from the copyright holder for purposes like teaching and criticism or commentary. A license is a means by which a copyright holder gives permission to other people or organizations about using, copying, and distributing their work for purposes beyond fair use. It puts in specific terms how a work can (and cannot) be used and specifies whether and how attributions should be made.

What are the licensing options on PsyArXiv?

Although anyone can license work that they own however they’d like to and can indicate as such on their preprint, PsyArXiv supports two Creative Commons licensing options that will meet most posters’ needs. By default, works uploaded to PsyArXiv have no license, but a license can be added by the user anytime before or after submission. As described in more detail below, the two licenses PsyArXiv supports are: CC0 (specifically, CC0 1.0 Universal), which places work in the public domain, and CC-By (CC-By Attribution 4.0 International) which allows others to use and build on a work as long as they give the original author credit.

As of April 17, 2018, the majority of PsyArXiv uploads have a CC-By attribution (57%) and fewer have a CC0 (29%) or no license (13%).

Bar graph depicting number of preprints using various licenses. The bar on the left shows that 57% of preprints use a CC-By license. The middle bar shows that 29% use a CC0 license. The bar on the right represents preprints with no license, which is 13% of the total.

What should I consider when making a decision about licensing the work I post on PsyArXiv?

Typically, as psychological scientists, we want our work to be read, built upon, shared in full with others, and used to develop tools or interventions. Most of us also expect and assume that when someone describes our work, shares it, builds on it, or otherwise uses it, they will include a citation and perhaps a link to a URL where our work can be accessed. These preferences and expectations fit well with a CC-By license, which allows you to retain copyright and get credit while letting other people use your work freely.

In some instances, though less commonly for written work, we want people to use our work however they’d like, meaning that they can copy it in full, modify it, and profit from it without giving us any credit. These preferences fit well with a CC0 license, which puts work in the public domain. Works in the public domain belong to or are available to the public as a whole without being subject to copyright.

What are the benefits of licensing posted work?

In the absence of a license, readers must make guesses and assumptions about our preferences and expectations. Many PsyArXiv readers may reasonably assume that they can use posted work just as they use scholarly products in journals and other publication venues (fair use). Many of us don’t mind–and indeed want–people to use our work in ways that extend beyond fair use (e.g., distributing it in a coursebook for students). When this is the case and we do not license our work, we leave it to our readers to intuit our preferences and introduce ambiguity around the legality of dissemination, distribution, and reuse.

When can I license my work on PsyArXiv?

If you hold the copyright of a work you are posting to PsyArXiv (e.g., if you are the author and haven’t given rights to anyone else), then you can license it. If you have given away rights in part or whole, you may still be able to license it. Often, copyright agreements that academic authors make with non-open access publishers transfer ownership completely to publishers and give them the exclusive rights to a particular version of the article (e.g., the post-peer review, formatted version). Many such publishing agreements allow the authors to retain some rights, like the right to self-archive and the retention of copyright associated with the pre-peer-review version (i.e., the pre-print), in ways that allow the author to license the preprint as CC-By or CC0. Each agreement is different and additional complexities are introduced by other agreements authors may have made, for example, related to institutional repositories at their university.

If you are uncertain about whether you can post or post and license a particular work–for example, an article that has been published in a journal–utilize the many free resources that can help you understand your rights (e.g., SHERPA/RoMEO, Creative Commons). Many institutions have legal scholars in the library who can assist you in understanding your specific copyright agreement, and who can help you modify copyright agreements or otherwise retain rights as desired before you’ve published your work.

Additional resources related to fair use and licenses

Thank you to Haley Walton, Outreach Coordinator for Open Access at Duke University Perkins Library, for consulting on this piece.

Interview: Cory Costello

Profile picture for Cory CostelloWe are starting a series of blog posts interviewing different authors who have posted to PsyArXiv. The goal of these posts is to spotlight different uses and experiences of PsyArXiv and to help the community get to know some of our authors a little better. In our first post, Ben Brown, Associate Professor of Psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College and Chair of the PsyArXiv Steering Committee, interviews Cory Costello, a graduate student at the University of Oregon.  

Ben: First of all, congratulations on your first first-authored paper and the attention that the preprint has received! As I mentioned previously, PsyArXiv is starting a series of blog posts interviewing different authors about their uses and experiences of PsyArXiv. To start, would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?

Cory:  Thanks—both for the kind words and this opportunity! My name is Cory Costello, I’m a graduate student and doctoral candidate in the Psychology Department at the University of Oregon, working primarily with Sanjay Srivastava in the Personality and Social Dynamics Lab. Before getting to Oregon, I was an MA student in the Department of Psychology at Wake Forest University, where I worked primarily with Dustin Wood (now at University of Alabama). I did my undergrad at a small, public, Liberal Arts College called New College of Florida. My research interests revolve around personality assessment/measurement, personality development, interpersonal perception, reputation, and how personality is expressed and perceived online (in online social networking environments, such as Twitter). More broadly, I’m interested in methodology, data analysis, and how to make psychological science better, more open, and more reproducible.   

Ben:  Can you tell me a little about this new method for assessing personality?

Cory: The basic idea of the method was to take this idea of revealed preferences and apply it to personality assessment. Revealed preference techniques are used in some areas of psychology (e.g., close relationships/attraction) and seem to be even more common in behavioral economics. The basic idea of revealed preferences is that rather than asking people about their preferences for different features (e.g., do you find confident people attractive?), you can instead infer (or reveal) their preferences by correlating some criterion (a rating, a choice behavior, etc.) with the absence or presence of those features (e.g., do they rate more confident people as being more attractive?).

We attempted to take a similar approach to personality assessment, with the assumption that personality traits primarily describe patterns of trait-relevant behavior (e.g., someone’s level of a trait like dependable means they tend to more often behave in ways that are described as dependable). So we administered a bunch of short action scenarios to participants that set up a situation (e.g., you come home and your living space is messy from your roommate cooking) and asked them how likely they would be to respond in a particular way (e.g., how likely would you be to clean up the mess?). Then, we had another group of participants rate each of these actions (e.g., cleaning up after your messy roommate) on 23 bi-polar personality adjectives (e.g., dependable/reliable vs. undependable/unreliable). The correlation between the likelihood ratings and the independently rated trait-ness (we call this action characterization in the paper) of each action is what we’re calling a revealed trait estimate. So it’s sort of like one of those old choose your own adventure novels, but where your choices are being rated, and seen as reflecting your personality.

One kind of neat thing about this approach is that its pretty flexible. In addition to having the action scenarios rated for their trait-ness, we also had them coded for expected effects (e.g., the likelihood of being rejected), which we were interested in because of their relevance to personality trait judgments (which we had been working on in a previous, related project: Wood, Tov, & Costello, 2015). But in theory, you could code actions for other variables of interest.

I guess the last thing to mention is that we think this technique might be especially useful in contexts where more typical personality assessment may have problems. In our case, we were interested in applying it cross-culturally, as there have been some surprising results in cross-cultural comparisons of personality that may stem from measurement issues. Of course, some of the measurement issues may still affect revealed traits, but some might be mitigated. In particular, having a standard set of raters characterize the actions (rate their trait-ness) means that we can rule out that any cultural differences stem from using a trait term differently. For example, we can rule out that differences in revealed outgoingness between the two groups we looked at (which we found in both studies) are due to different understandings of what it means for an action to be outgoing, because that judgement is being made by a standard group. A similar technique (Situation Judgment Tasks) has been developed in the I/O psych literature on assessment to deal with some similar challenges in workplace assessment.

Ben: Sounds like a cool, novel approach! What do you think the benefits are of sharing such a novel approach on PsyArXiv?

Cory: My main motivation for sharing this particular work on PsyArXiv was to provide easier access to it. I first started working on this manuscript the summer of 2014. I had just finished my Master’s degree at Wake Forest and I hadn’t yet started the PhD program at University of Oregon. There was this 3 month gap in my access to all of the tools/resources provided by a university (library subscriptions, SPSS site license, etc.), but I was still trying to get work done on a few projects, including this one. Whenever I was searching for literature I was always so grateful to see a link to a PDF on Google Scholar (usually posted on a personal or lab website, since this was before PsyArXiv). I ended up with this list of articles I had to look up when I got access to a library subscription. I mean, it ended up working out alright in the end, but I can’t help but feel like a stronger preprint culture in psychology would have saved me a bit of a headache.

Incidentally, that summer is also when I first started learning R, which was prompted by not having access to SPSS. Necessity is a great motivator.

Had PsyArXiv existed when I first submitted this paper, I would have loved to post it earlier in the pipeline (either pre-submission, or at the time of initial submission) to elicit feedback. Sanjay Srivastava, Gerard Saucier, and I did that with a different paper, and received some interesting and helpful feedback on Twitter.

Ben: It sounds like that’s a pretty stable (and awesome!) motivating factor. How likely are you to share work on PsyArXiv in the future? Why?

Cory: I hesitate to say 100% likely—I have a pretty unshakable sense of uncertainty about just about everything. With that said, I’d say I’m extremely likely (effectively 100% likely) to share my work on PsyArXiv in the future. I’d say my primary motivation is still making the manuscript easier to access. As I alluded to in my last email, I’d like to get more in the habit of sharing pre-submission/working papers on PsyArXiv to elicit feedback, and so I suspect my motivation to share work on PsyArXiv will be increasingly driven by seeking feedback. I’m working on a few different manuscripts right now, and I think we (Sanjay and I) will post pre-prints at the time of initial submission (maybe before that; he and I haven’t explicitly discussed that yet).

One day, I’d like to post them before submission to potentially get feedback that I can incorporate into the manuscript before the initial submission, but I just don’t know if that extended timeline makes sense at my current career stage. In my perfect world, hiring committee expectations would be calibrated to a more extended timeline like that (e.g., preprints on a CV would be seen more positively; grad students would be expected to have fewer pubs, more preprints; etc.), but I don’t know if the field is there yet. So, for the time being, my goal is to post a preprint on PsyArXiv concurrently to submitting it to a journal, but hopefully I’ll be able to move posting the preprint to an earlier point in that pipeline eventually.

Ben: Thanks!  What has been your experience of sharing your work on PsyArXiv? Anything surprising?

Cory: It’s been a positive experience. I’ll admit, it was nerve-racking when we posted the first preprint I was involved in (Sanjay posted the preprint), especially because we posted that at the time of initial submission. I had this sort of slight feeling of dread: ‘what if there was some obvious mistake in the manuscript or data/code we posted?! At least if these things come up in peer review it’s private!’ But, in the end, it was fine, and led to some really great feedback on Twitter.

I think the most surprising thing occurred with that same preprint I just mentioned. I was telling someone about the project recently, and they responded with, “Oh, this is the preprint you guys posted in PsyArXiv, right?” I guess I still sort of have in my mind that if a paper hasn’t been published in a journal, no one would know or care about it. But that preprint has been downloaded quite a bit (314 as of today). We’re still figuring out what to do with that manuscript (it was rejected on our initial submission), but I feel really grateful that the work is available to others in the meantime.

Ben: That’s encouraging to hear that PsyArXiv has helped to make your work more visible.  Are there any new features you would like to see from PsyArXiv in the future?

Cory: I’d like to see features that sort of perform the curating role that journals often perform. It might be helpful if it recommended similar preprints (to the one you’re viewing). One thing that I think would be cool, and maybe the blog is aimed at doing this, would be to have some sort of monthly list of preprints (similar to subscribing to a journal). I’m thinking some sort of most viewed/downloaded set of preprints within topic area(s) the person has indicated interest.

Ben: Thanks for those ideas, Cory! I’ll pass them along and see what we can do. One last question: What would you say to a friend who is thinking about posting?

Cory: I would say go for it! It’s a great way to get your work out there – both so that people learn what you found, and so they can tell you how the work can be improved. Plus, it’ll make it easier for folks to find your work if they’re in between universities and still trying to get their research done.

APA Names PsyArXiv as Preferred Preprint Service

Contributed by Grace Binion, David Condon, Anita Eerland, Alex Holcombe, Hannah Moshontz, & Sean Rife

On August 1st 2017, PsyArXiv was named the preferred preprint service for the APA. In their press release, the APA highlights the benefits afforded by our service, including open access and increased discoverability. We will also be working to develop integrated submission portals that will allow submission from PsyArXiv to APA journals and vice versa. Once in place, this will allow users to easily submit the latest version of their preprint (and associated supplemental material) from PsyArXiv to journals and to solicit feedback on manuscripts submitted for review.

This initiative is a substantial step towards openness and transparency by one of the most prominent organizations in psychological research, and we hope to facilitate similar steps by other publishers. The Center for Open Science is continuing to develop the functionality underlying PsyArXiv to facilitate usage by journals (regardless of the publisher) as well as individual scholars. The central mission of PsyArXiv is to provide preprint services to promote the broad use of this vital tool for open access to psychological research. To accomplish this, we are eager to work with a wide array of publishers to ease the workflow of individuals already using preprints and to enhance visibility of preprints to promote adoption for those who are not.

We are excited that the APA has chosen to name us their preferred preprint service and look forward to many more similar opportunities.

Introducing PsyArXiv: Psychology’s dedicated open access digital archive

Contributed by David Barner, Benjamin Brown, and Alex Holcombe

PsyArXiv (PsyArXiv.com), psychology’s dedicated Open Access digital archive, launches today.

Today, PsyArXiv officially launches its open access digital archive, PsyArXiv.com, dedicated to psychological science. PsyArXiv joins a growing collection of online archives in fields including physics, biology, linguistics, and sociology, by providing a free, open access outlet for new findings in the psychological sciences.

According to Benjamin Brown, a developmental psychologist at Georgia Gwinnett College, “PsyArXiv makes new scientific knowledge accessible to all researchers, regardless of whether their universities have access to costly journal subscriptions. In an era that some describe as one of fake news and information bubbles, PsyArXiv gives the public free, first-hand access to new science, meaning that journalists, politicians, business leaders, and high school science teachers can all download the newest science and use facts to inform their decision making, and to fuel their natural curiosity about science.”

Like other scholarly archives such as Cornell’s original arXiv.org, PsyArXiv allows researchers to upload working papers, unpublished work, and articles currently under review (preprints), making them accessible to researchers and the public at no cost. PsyArXiv also permits researchers to share their work months or years earlier than usual, while also making it openly available to the public. PsyArXiv promises to create free, open access to psychological science, even for papers that are ultimately published in journals that are only accessible to subscribers.

Alex Holcombe, a cognitive psychologist and vision scientist at the University of Sydney, notes that PsyArXiv “allows researchers to get early feedback on their work from a larger pool of peers than through traditional journal processes. This both speeds science and leads to a better final product — a revised PsyArXiv entry, eventual journal publication, or both.”

PsyArXiv provides support for multiple versions of a file, within-browser rendering of manuscripts, inclusion of supplementary files, data, and code, appropriate metadata, and links to resulting journal articles including DOIs. PsyArXiv’s infrastructure is provided by the Center for Open Science, which also provides simultaneous search of PsyArXiv and other preprint services. Details regarding future plans for PsyArXiv, including new features, can be found at this roadmap.

PsyArXiv welcomes contributions from all areas of psychology, and hosts papers under review, working papers, and manuscripts that might be difficult to publish in traditional venues, such as replications of previous work or failures to replicate. Also, it allows researchers to update their files as their manuscripts benefit from community comments and the traditional journal review process. Researchers can upload papers and find out more about PsyArXiv at both PsyArXiv.com and on our blog, or can ask questions at info@psyarxiv.com.

Introducing PsyArXiv: a preprint service for psychological science

PsyArXiv, a preprint service for psychology, is up and running! It was created by the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) and the Center for Open Science (COS).

Purpose

PsyArXiv is an interactive digital repository for papers on psychological science, serving two primary functions.

First, PsyArXiv serves as an open-access archive for psychological publications of all sorts. This means that researchers and the public can access publications which might otherwise be protected by a paywall. Simply uploading manuscripts of already-published papers (in accordance with journal policy, most of which allow for sharing author-formatted manuscripts) increases the availability of scientific publications. In addition, PsyArXiv provides an outlet for articles which might never otherwise be published, due to null findings.

Second, PsyArXiv is expected to be especially useful as a preprint server. Preprints are manuscripts as they exist prior to formal publication in a journal. Sharing preprints on PsyArXiv can result in feedback from others in the field, resulting in improvements, and the preprint can then be updated to reflect the revisions. This is a sort of peer review prior to actual journal submission. Posting prior to publication can also establish a precedent of a theory, design, method, or finding. Each preprint uploaded is assigned a unique DOI, with associated date and time stamps. Given the average length of the peer review and journal publishing process, uploading to PsyArXiv can firmly establish your claim over your work, to avoid getting “scooped.”

Features

The current PsyArXiv interface onto the underlying Open Science Framework (OSF) datastore is temporary. The full interface is under development, but PsyArXiv already provides a searchable database of preprints, with free hosting of manuscripts in perpetuity (ensured by a digital preservation fund). It is also easy to integrate a preprint with other supplementary materials through the OSF, providing open access to data, materials, etc.

When PsyArXiv is updated, uploading and updating manuscripts will be even easier, with a DOI assigned upon upload. PsyArXiv will also allow commenting on preprints, with community moderation tools to ensure that comments are productive and helpful. Stay tuned for further updates! We are excited about the development of these useful features and more.

Questions and Information

For more information about why to use preprints, on how to post your own preprints to PsyArXiv, and more, be sure to check out our FAQ. If you have any other questions, you can email us at info@psyarxiv.com, or ask us questions on Facebook or Twitter.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank arXiv for the licensed use of their name. We would also like to thank the Center for Open Science for their hand in creating and integrating the PsyArXiv with the OSF and the new, upcoming preprint services in related fields.

arXiv is a trademark of Cornell University, used under license. This license should not be understood to indicate endorsement of content on PsyArXiv by Cornell University or arXiv.

PsyArXiv Frequently Asked Questions

What is a preprint?

A preprint is a draft of a scholarly manuscript made available to the public prior to publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Why post a preprint?

Making one’s work available as a preprint has several advantages. First, it rapidly disseminates the findings of your research (it takes just minutes to upload a paper to PsyArXiv). Second, you can receive feedback rapidly and prior to submission to a peer-reviewed journal. This improves the overall quality of scholarship. Third, preprints submitted to PsyArXiv are available to anyone with Internet access; this allows scholars, citizens, and businesses without journal subscriptions or access to academic libraries (including, importantly, those in developing nations) to access a version of scientific publications at no charge. Finally, preprints add transparency to the scientific process by allowing access to different (i.e., pre-review, pre-editorial) versions of a manuscript.

Why upload to this particular archive?

PsyArXiv is the premiere preprint archive for the psychological sciences, and it is run by a community organization – the Society for the Improvement in Psychology Science.  The technology is provided by the Center for Open Science, a non-profit that many psychologists are already using to share their data and other materials. New features are coming, such as commenting, that we hope will promote a rich dialogue about cutting-edge psychological research.

How do I submit a manuscript to PsyArXiv?

Simply visit http://psyarxiv.com and click on “Add a preprint.” The site will walk you through a five-step process of uploading a new preprint or adding a preprint directly from the Open Science Framework.

How do journals deal with preprints?

Journals differ in terms of how they deal with the posting of preprints. Prior to uploading a manuscript to PsyArXiv, you should review the policies of any journal you are considering as an outlet (SHERPA/RoMEO is a database containing the policies of most journals). Usually, preprints that do not include changes made as a part of the journal editorial and reviewing process may be made available through PsyArXiv. In some cases journals allow edited versions of a paper accepted for publication to be made available on a preprint server; however, the publisher’s version (i.e., that which includes formatting, layout, etc.) will likely remain the property of the journal (and thus not available for posting to PsyArXiv), except in the case of open-access journals. Authors can also negotiate for permission to post their preprints using tools such as the SPARC Author Addendum.

What were the motivations for creating PsyArXiv?

PsyArXiv was founded in order to speed and improve psychological science. It was established to increase access to scientific findings and papers. Certainly all of us within academia, and a great number of the lay public, have encountered obstacles (paywalls, combing through overlapping search engines, etc.) in gaining access to articles. Such obstacles relegate access to some of the highest quality research to a privileged few. An insular, rigidly hierarchical science is a sick science.

The current journal publishing system heavily emphasizes novel, positive, unexpected results. Studies which fail to meet this threshold are often left in the proverbial “file drawer.” Yet not disseminating null results is detrimental to the quality and caliber of published work as well as to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Preprint servers enable scientists to clear their “file drawer” in the same way they might have had such studies been accepted for publication. This informs researchers about boundary conditions and reduces the repetition of failures across many labs which, at present, simply go unrecognized. Such failures end up draining public funds and waste valuable time.

Preprint servers also serves the aim of improving science by seeking to increase the quality of published work. The peer review process at most journals solicits feedback from two or three academics; in contrast, a preprint service offers the opportunity to provide and receive feedback from a broader range of academics, and can encourage feedback on the structure, presentation of analyses, and readability of a paper, in addition to the theoretical and/or empirical claims in the paper. This additional feedback can greatly improve the quality of work that is eventually published.

Why now?

Over the last several years, researchers, funders, and governments have increasingly recognized the need for more transparent and open science, both in the process of conducting studies and in that of disseminating results. More emphasis is being placed on attempting to replicate studies; individuals are encouraged or required to post their data and materials; analytic and methodological transparency, including reporting of null findings, has been strongly encouraged; and there has been increased recognition of the problems posed by the file drawer. All of these changes have culminated in an understanding that the current processes by which studies are discovered and, at times, disseminated stand in direct opposition to many of the aspirational goals of open science.

Is this service a replacement for journals?

PsyArXiv is not intended to replace journals. A preprint service is primarily intended to offer access to manuscripts before publication. However, in fields like physics and computer science, the popular arXiv.org preprint service (from which the PsyArXiv name comes) has become an integral part of the publication process. Posting one’s manuscript to arXiv greatly increases discoverability, meaning that one’s work is more likely to be seen, discussed, and cited. For science in the age of the Internet, the role of journals may become largely a way to collate research into relevant categories based on topic, discipline, or geography. However, formal peer review is an integral part of science, and journals play a critical role in facilitating this function.