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Published by Knowledge Exchange (KE). Publishing partners: DFG, CSC, Jisc, CNRS, SURF, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education.

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3357727. Available at


Copyright 2019, Knowledge Exchange. Open access material, Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license.

Acknowledgements: This study was underpinned by the work of the KE Task and Finish Group on preprints, led by Karin van Grieken (SURF), Juliane Kant (DFG) and Serge Bauin (CNRS), and including a range of other engaged members: Andy Turner (University of Leeds), Angela Holzer (DFG), Bas Cordewener (Knowledge Exchange), Birgit Schmidt (Göttingen State and University Library), Frank Manista (Jisc), Gernot Deinzer (Regensburg University), Jeroen Sondervan (Utrecht University Library), John Doove (SURF), Jon Tennant (IGDORE; Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, University of Paris), Neil Jacobs (Jisc), Olivier Le Gall (INRA), Sarah James (Knowledge Exchange), Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer (Leiden University/Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO))


Five take-away messages:

Early and fast dissemination, increased opportunities for feedback and openness are seen as the main benefits of preprints.

The main concerns over preprints are the lack of quality assurance, media potentially reporting inaccurate research and journals rejecting articles if a preprint has been posted.

Twitter has been playing a key enabling role in the current second wave of preprints and preprint servers. It also appears to be the main way researchers are exposed to preprints in the first place.

It is not clear who will be responsible for posting preprints in the long-term – researchers or publishers? This will partly be affected by the availability of sustainable business models.

Traditional academic journals might have to reframe their value proposition should preprints grow significantly in popularity in the future.

Today, the growth of the preprints movement is undeniable, but we note that the practice remains small compared to the size of the academic publishing landscape. We see three possible scenarios for future developments, ranging from ‘turn of the tide’, where the second wave of preprint servers fades, to ‘preprints by default’, where growth continues in all fields and preprints reach widespread acceptance by the research community.