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.
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.
26 thoughts on “PsyArXiv Frequently Asked Questions”
I would like to know if I would be able to cite my preprints? Also, would I be able to remove my preprints at a later stage, if my journals gets accepted for publication?
Yes, you can cite your preprints! Each preprint is provided a persistent URL, and you can create a DOI for it as well. These can be used to cite preprints.
As far as removing preprints, you can remove a preprint by deleting the OSF project that underlies it. However, as mentioned above under “How do journals deal with preprints”, keep in mind that in many cases the copyright over the original manuscript remains with you, and the journal licensing agreement covers the finished, peer-reviewed product. You should check your journal policies, but you may find you don’t actually need to delete the preprint after it is accepted. So it is possible to delete, but it may not be necessary.
Quick question: Upon uploading, PsyArchive states that a “DOI has been created”, but where do I find this DOI?
Nevermind, it appeared after refreshing the page.
Are papers posted to PsyArXiv found in a Google Scholar search?
That is certainly something that is a high priority for us, and we are working on ensuring that they can be!
do you know if any progress has been made in this regard ?
Yes, PsyArXiv preprints are now indexed by Google Scholar, so they will show up in Scholar searches. Often clicking the name of the article will take you right to the preprint, as I believe Scholar prioritizes open access versions. However, if there are multiple versions of the article indexed by Scholar (e.g., the published version and the preprint), there should be a link underneath saying “X versions” that you can click to get to the preprint.
Is it possible to update to a new version?
Has anyone replied to this quesion?
Yes, you can easily update your manuscript to a new version.
I’m writing a short blogpost about use of preprints.
One question that crops up that I could not find in your FAQ is whether there is any quality control over PsyArXiv preprints? Does the author have to have an academic affiliation? Is there any screening for crazy or dangerous stuff? Thanks.
There is currently a moderator team to ensure some level of quality control. Primarily, however, this would be to removing things like spam. The moderators are not editors, and when discussing moderation the steering committee decided that we shouldn’t be exerting that sort of editorial control. We wanted to allow the system to be as inclusive as possible and then focus on excluding cases that are clearly out of scope.
So no, there are no restrictions on authors needing academic affiliations. Spam will be removed. Cases of papers that are clearly out of scope (i.e., completely not relevant to psychology) may be retagged or moved to another archive as appropriate.
Over time, we may find edge cases that require us to more clearly define our guidelines for moderation. But part of the reason why the moderation is currently fairly hands-off is to see how the system gets used in the first place. We want to allow the community to develop organically (where people may find uses for a preprint archive that we never even considered), while still, of course, weeding out the obvious bad players. So right now, dealing with “crazy or dangerous stuff” would need to be handled on a case by case basis. If you encounter something like this, please let us know. You can contact us at email@example.com. We’re happy to investigate.
I should also note that as these preprint archive services develop, if people feel like more editorial control is useful, the OSF (on which PsyArXiv runs) has an open API that developers can build upon. So there is huge potential for second-layer solutions. This could include things like “watchlists” to follow certain authors, tags, or keywords; peer review and commenting systems; voting systems; etc. Right now, someone could even develop an open access “journal” of sorts just curating preprint content targeted toward a specific topic or audience. The overhead would be minimal, given that all the content is already hosted by us!
I think as these archives grow we will need better curation tools for sifting through them. But the system is set up in a way that is open for people to build things on top of what the OSF already provides. We will need to adapt our moderation guidelines as we go, but the system also has lots of future potential for more of a community-moderated approach as well.
As this is the first/most relevant hit when I search for PsyArxiv API, could I please ask whether there is a way to query the number of downloads for a specific preprint? I can’t figure it out based on the OSF API documentation! Thank you sincerely
Once submitted, how long does it typically take for an article to pass the ‘Pending’ stage? And, what does the ‘Pending’ stage involve? I assume it is some sort of screening/validation?
We have just recently rolled out active moderation, checking for basic things like spam, copyright violations, etc. It’s not peer review, just basic quality control. Usually our moderators are pretty quick about new submissions — you should see most submissions get dealt with within about 72 hours. But because we just rolled out moderation, this includes a substantial backlog as we go through earlier submissions. If you submitted a preprint earlier this year, then, it might take about a month or so while we work through the backlog.
Please note that while your preprint is pending it can still be viewed by others, and the URL will remain the same once it has been approved. So functionally, you shouldn’t be too concerned about your submission being pending. It’s simply there to let authors know that we will be checking it at some point.
Hope that answers your questions!
One of my intended co-authors didn’t have time to contribute to the article as planned (i.e. in replying to reviewers, etc) and I had to move my colleague to acknowledgements instead.
The article has now been accepted and I will be uploading a new version with substantial differences (added, new data). How long it will take to see the updated version replacing the old one?
Is it possible to change the format of the preprint file? E.g. if you upload your preprint as a word document, can you then upload a new version as a pdf? I have tried this and am currently receiving an error on my pfd version to say that “this is not a version of the current preprint file”.
Unfortunately, no, the system requires that the new uploaded version must have the same filename as the original version. If you wish to upload a PDF instead, I would recommend deleting the previous preprint and uploading the PDF as a brand new submission.
To follow up on Yasmin’s question – is there any plan to update this functionality regarding changing the file name or file format? It seems like a poor choice to have to delete the original pre-print as then the record will be lost of previous versions (and citations, indexing, etc). Wouldn’t it be preferable if authors could upload a revised version (w new file name or format) within the same preprint doi?
I checked in with the team over at the Center for Open Science (who handles the development of PsyArXiv), and they let me know this is a limitation they are aware of and have already been working on to fix. There should be an update to the system in the near future to allow you to upload a document with a different filename/file type in order to update a preprint. So stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks!
any news about the ability to update papers without having to delete it ?
No, I haven’t heard an update yet. But you do not need to *delete* a preprint in order to update it. If you sign in and go to your preprint, you should see an “Edit” button at the top — there you can upload a new version *with the same filename* and it will update. The only case this doesn’t work for is if you are wanting to change the file type (e.g., from a Word document to a PDF). I haven’t yet heard an update from the development team on changing this but I know this is something they are working on.
I could swear that I updated this PsyArXiv preprint with the in-press version when it was accepted for publication; however, all I can see is the original: https://psyarxiv.com/ksdzv?file=5bdc9fef2a8be80018e2436b
Maybe I did something wrong, or maybe I’m confabulating the update, but in any event is there a set of instructions somewhere for updating a preprint? Thanks!