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Preprint server for health sciences will ‘accelerate’ research

Yale University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), and publisher BMJ today announced the forthcoming launch of medRxiv [pronounced “med-archive”], a free online archive and distribution service for preprints in the medical and health sciences. The server is expected to begin accepting manuscripts on June 6 and will be overseen by the three organizations.

Preprints are preliminary versions of research articles that researchers share with each other before they are published in a journal in order to disseminate study methods and findings among the scientific community and to solicit feedback to help improve the final published article.

MedRxiv aims to do for authors engaged in clinical research what bioRxiv and arXiv have been doing for biology and physics, respectively, for many years,” said Harlan Krumholz, co-founder of medRxiv, Yale University professor of medicine, and head of the Yale Open Data Access (YODA) project. “Given the special requirements of preprints in medical and health fields, medRxiv will also provide new processes to help ensure that we are mitigating any risks of early dissemination while promoting the value of faster communication among the scientific community.”

The medRxiv archive will accept preprints of articles covering all aspects of research in the health sciences. A manuscript’s appearance in medRxiv does not imply endorsement of its methods, assumptions, conclusions, or scientific quality by BMJ, Yale, or CSHL. There will be prominent labels on all articles that designate them as pre-peer review content.

MedRxiv’s mission 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,” said John Inglis, co-founder of medRxiv and CSHL’s bioRxiv.

Richard Sever, co-founder with Inglis of medRxiv and bioRxiv, added that they are already seeing many instances where early release of results on bioRxiv is significantly accelerating basic research. They anticipate medRxiv will do the same for clinical research, he said.

MedRxiv’s founding organizations are Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, creator of the biological preprint server bioRxiv (launched in 2013); BMJ, publisher of leading peer-reviewed journals and global healthcare knowledge provider; and Yale University, a world-renowned clinical research and teaching institution. The archive will host manuscripts from researchers around the world, regardless of their organizational affiliation, will be publisher-neutral, and will be guided in its mission by an international advisory board.

A manuscript may be posted prior to, or concurrently with, submission to a journal, but not if it has already been published. Most journals from a wide variety of publishers allow publication of journal articles that have appeared in early form on designated preprint servers. Once posted on medRxiv, manuscripts have a digital object identifier (DOI), so are discoverable, indexable, and citable. They may be withdrawn if authors no longer stand by the findings or conclusions, but cannot routinely be removed.

BMJ has recognized the value of preprints for more than 20 years,” said Theodora Bloom, co-founder of medRxiv and executive editor of BMJ. “With the recent growth of preprints in the life sciences, we saw the time as ripe to reinvigorate the notion of preprints for the clinical sciences, and were delighted to work together with colleagues from CSHL and Yale who were thinking the same way. We have come together to provide a free, independent service for all health scientists.”

Claire Rawlinson, co-founder of medRxiv and BMJ’s publisher, explained that the success of preprints in many other fields has highlighted the opportunity for the medical research community to create an appropriate platform for rapidly and responsibly sharing its latest research.

Developed to support the scientific community and foster collaboration, medRxiv is a “trusted intermediary” to accelerate the sharing of clinical papers, results, and data to improve public health and healthcare, said Joseph S. Ross, co-founder of medRxiv and associate professor at Yale.  

Complete information about medRxiv, including author guidelines, is available at the project website.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326