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Finding and Using Preprints

Chemistry doesn't have a strong preprint tradition like physics, but there's a growing number of platforms for the free deposit and open dissemination of manuscripts prior to peer review, acceptance and publication in journals.(1)

Preprints are most readily found in Google Scholar, but are not as widely indexed in more traditional bibliographic databases. 

(NOTE:  "Preprint" in this context refers to a paper submitted to a journal but not yet peer-reviewed, accepted or published.  For meeting preprints (extended abstracts published in advance of a conference presentation) see the page on Conferences & Symposia.)


  • If I submit a preprint, I could get scooped.  -- Actually it's the other way around - a preprint establishes your claim faster than a journal does.
  • Journals won't accept submissions that have already been posted as preprints.  -- No, this is no longer true at all.
  • People will only see an early version of my paper and not the finished product.  --  Most preprint servers allow updated manuscript versions to be posted up until the final accepted version (but not the publisher's version of record).  Previous versions remain available as well.
  • Preprints will eventually eliminate peer-reviewed journals.  -- Exhibit A:  arXiv started over 30 years ago and has become the standard dissemination mechanism, and not a single physics journal has disappeared as a result. 


When citing a preprint, make sure to indicate clearly that it is a preprint (implying not peer-reviewed).  If possible, update the preprint reference with a reference (and link) to the published article after it appears.

1.  Coudert, F. The rise of preprints in chemistry. Nature Chemistry (2020).

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