Advance and Preprints: A Year One Retrospective


August 31st marks the one year anniversary of Advance: a SAGE preprints community and, since the day we launched, preprints have continued to see tremendous growth across the scholarly community. Growth, not just in sheer volume of posted preprints, but also in the understanding of the benefits preprints can have in the scholarly community.

As I reflected back upon this last year, it felt important to me to try and highlight not just Advance’s own accomplishments but also other important preprint developments across the industry. At SAGE, we believe that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society, and we seek to creatively disseminate research on a global scale. So it is key to the Advance team that we work to educate our communities about preprints and their value to scholarly communications.

For those who aren’t familiar, preprints are a version of a research paper that precedes review and publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and has been posted to an open access online platform. Because preprints do not go through peer review, they can be posted very rapidly, and allow authors near-instantaneous dissemination of their work. Preprint platforms exists in almost every discipline, from biology (bioRxiv) to physics (arXiv), chemistry (ChemRxiv), sociology (SocArxiv) and even law (LawArXiv) and paleontology (PaleorXiv). If you’d like to read more about the benefits of preprints, you can download our infographic on the 7 benefits of preprints here.

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Advance: A Year by the Numbers

But now, on to the fun stuff. Since Advance’s inauguration, we’ve posted over 250 preprints, which have been downloaded over 20,000 times by readers from 180 countries. Advance welcomes research from all social science and humanities disciplines, and we currently have research in 25 disciplines. And finally, as of July 2019, we’ve had over 1,400 users register on Advance. We hope to expand even more in Year 2, including creating a community space where we can engage with researchers around the globe who want to help advocate for the benefits of posting, reading and commenting on preprints. So, watch this space for more and, if you’re interested in getting involved with Advance, we’d love to hear from you!

Preprint News Round Up

One of the biggest pieces of preprint news this year was the launch of MedRxiv, a new preprint server for medical and health research. Its mission, according to one the co-founders, John Inglis, is to “responsibly improve the openness and accessibility of scientific findings, enhance collaboration among researchers, document the provenance of ideas, and inform ongoing and planned research through more timely reporting of completed research.”

Nature Research, publisher of several life science journals including the prestigious Nature, announced a new policy that would help encourage authors to share their work via preprints. While their previous policy was supportive of preprints, their new policy aims to actively promote using preprint servers.

Coming in the wake of Plan S, there is now a proposal for a Plan U, in which funders would mandate posting a preprint for all funded research. Plan U has been proposed by the co-founders of bioRxiv Richard Sever and John Inglis, as well as Michael Eisen, a vocal advocate for open science and preprints.

And we shouldn’t forget about the social sciences; just a few weeks ago the Center for Open Science announced their new preprint server, EdArXiv, which will focus on preprints in Educational Research. EdArXiv is the 27th community preprint server launched on their platform and is  in collaboration with several educational research scholars and open access proponents.

New Research on Preprints

As someone who works with preprints, I am always excited when I see new research about the role preprints can play in scholarly literature. And, if you would like to learn more about the rise of preprints and their potential impact, here are three articles which will help you get started.

First, we have a look at the growth of preprints servers across 9 different platforms hosted on the Center for Open Science. Authors Tom Narock and Evan Goldstein examines both the growth in submissions across the preprint servers as well as the rate of preprints-to-postprints (that is, how many preprints eventually got published). You can read the preprint version on OSF Preprints and the final peer reviewed version in the open access journal Publications.

Similarly, two biology researchers, Richard J. Abdill and Ran Blekman, charted the outcomes of over 30,000 preprints posted on bioRxiv, to determine how popular the preprints were themselves and how many went on to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Check out both the preprint posted on bioRxiv and the final, peer-reviewed version published in eLife.

Finally, a recently bioRxiv preprint explored a possible citation advantage for published papers that also have a preprint version available. Initial findings by N. Fraser et al showed that papers that have a preprint version may get more citations than those that do not. Read the preprints on bioRxiv or check out the summary of the paper on Prelights.

Did we miss any of your favourite pieces of preprint news? Interested in learning more about Advance? Contact us at We’d love to hear from you!