What is a Preprint Server or Preprint Archive?
A preprint, or eprint, server hosts research articles that have not yet gone through the peer-review process. They are open access resources, meaning that anyone can view the contents without having to pay for them or belonging to an institution (like NDSU) that subscribes to them, as is common with research databases. They allow researchers to share their research more rapidly than the final, peer-reviewed publication and may be used as a way to get feedback on their research prior to submission to a journal. They also serve as an archive for long-term preservation of the papers and may also be referred to as preprint archives. The first and most well known of these is arXiv.org (pronounced “archive”).
arXiv originated in the early 1990s as an archive for physics preprints and has expanded to include the fields of mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics. It is widely used in these fields and has inspired the development of preprint servers and archives in other fields.
Preprint Servers and COVID-19 Research
A couple of the most relevant preprint servers right now are in the biological and health sciences: bioRxiv and medRxiv. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, they host special sections on preprints related to research on COVID-19 and are good places to see currently active research on this topic. Discussions of some of these preprints and their initial findings have even made it into the national news. Keep in mind that these are not the final, peer-reviewed publications and cover research that is still under review and may change by the time it is peer-reviewed and published in a journal.
Preprint Servers for Other Fields of Research
Preprint servers now exist in most areas of research. Here are some of the common ones you will find across many fields of research.
Additional preprint servers can be found at OSF Preprints: osf.io/preprints