Pre-prints vs Pre-proof/Pre-press

Sharing of manuscripts using open access pre-print platforms has increased significantly in 2020 with researchers wishing to disseminate their research rapidly during the COVID- 19 pandemic. While sharing manuscripts in this way has been common in some disciplines such as mathematics and physics for many years, the use by others such as biomedical sciences has been low, until recently. A preprint is a version of a scholarly manuscript that precedes formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed journal.  It is usually not typeset. The peer review process may lead to rejection of the manuscript or significant modification to the presentation, analysis and interpretation of the data in the final accepted publication. Readers and the media need to be aware that data in preprints may not be credible and the conclusions unreliable.

Pre-proof and pre-press articles are uncorrected proofs published shortly after a manuscript has been accepted by a journal after peer review. While they are fully citable using a DOI number, these uncorrected proofs will be replaced with the final version that include typesetting, copy-editing and author corrections.  Thus, the text could still change before final publication.

Individual publishers and journals may have different policies about preprints. There may be conflicts with license or copyright transfer agreements.  In addition, connection of preprints with publishing workflows and the final publication varies.


Further information

Chatfield K, Schroeder D. Ethical research in the COVID-19 era demands care, solidarity and trustworthiness. Research Ethics. First Published July 28 2020


Committee on Publication Ethics. Preprints March 2018


European Network of Research Integrity Offices (ENRIO) COVID-19 the importance of research ethics and research integrity standards during the pandemic. 2020


ENRIO Statement: Research integrity even more important for research during a pandemic


Giving credit where credit is due: how to cite preprints

Giving credit where credit is due: how to cite preprints – ASAPbio


Flanagin A, Fontanarosa PB, Bauchner H. Preprints Involving Medical Research—Do the Benefits Outweigh the Challenges? JAMA. 2020;324(18):1840–1843. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.20674


Last update January 2024


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UKRIO would like to thank Professor Margaret Rees for writing this resource.