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The term preprint means preprint and is used in different meanings for scientific publications as well as in paper production and technology.

scientific publications

A preprint is a scientific contribution published in manuscript form. In contrast to the postprint , this has not yet gone through an assessment process (e.g. peer review ) by a specialist journal or publisher. With this definition, it does not matter whether the manuscript has already been submitted to a publisher or has been approved for review or not. However, some publishers refuse to publish articles that are already available as preprint in the publishing contract . A preprint of an article usually differs not only in layout from the publisher's version, but also in terms of content from the published one, as the changes required in the review process are not yet included. Preprints are usually made publicly available on preprint servers .

Significance for science communication

The publication of preprints increases the speed with which research results are disseminated in the scientific world. On the one hand, this enables critical feedback from other research groups on the work done before it goes through the publisher's formal review process. On the other hand, the scientific community can ideally build on the published data and thus advance its own research work more quickly. In some scientific disciplines , preprinting is a common part of the publication culture, such as in physics . Here, contributions are often discussed within the community parallel to the manuscript submission or uploaded to preprint servers such as arXiv . The increasing number of subject-specific preprint servers such as bioRxiv , ChemRxiv or medRxiv suggests that in recent years, at least in other natural sciences, the willingness to publish preprints has increased.

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic , a large number of preprints were published in order to make research results about the disease and the SARS-CoV-2 virus available worldwide as quickly and freely as possible. In March 2020, the virologist Christian Drosten emphasized the importance of preprint publications for epidemiological research, but at the same time urged caution when selecting and evaluating these publications. The free availability of research results in the form of preprints can also encourage the dissemination of fake news , which is mainly distributed via social media . In April 2020, authors of the journal Science warned of an increasing erosion of quality standards due to the exceptional scientific situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, prematurely published and often immature clinical studies on the subject are responsible for this, which landed en masse on preprint servers.


The term preprint is also used in the manufacture of printed corrugated cardboard packaging. In this meaning, preprint describes the printing of the paper web before it is glued to the corrugated sheet and the back sheet on a so-called corrugated board system (WPA) to form corrugated board.

Electronics development

When electronic circuits are manufactured using a lithography process (earlier in the development of circuit boards, now only in ASICs ), a preprint is also made, which is known as preprint.

Individual evidence

  1. SHERPA / RoMEO - Definitions and Terms. Accessed April 25, 2020 (English).
  2. Rosenbaum, Konstanze: Different from subject to subject. Diversity in the scientific publication system . In: Peter Weingart and Niels Taubert (eds.): Scientific publishing: between digitization, performance measurement, economization and media observation . De Gruyter, Berlin, Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-044811-5 , pp. 41-74 .
  3. Uwe Böhme, Cornelia Rau, Silke Tesch: Preprints in der Chemie . In: News from chemistry . tape 66 , no. 4 , 2018, ISSN  1868-0054 , p. 427-433 , doi : 10.1002 / nadc.20184072721 .
  4. COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 preprint viewer for arXiv,, ChemRxiv, medRxiv and bioRxiv. ZB MED, accessed on July 28, 2020 (English).
  5. Coronavirus update, episode 20. NDR Info , March 24, 2020, accessed on April 25, 2020 .
  6. Coronavirus update, episode 23, NDR Info , March 27, 2020, accessed on April 25, 2020 .
  7. The science in the stress test. Republik (Magazin) , March 17, 2020, accessed April 25, 2020 .
  8. Alex John London and Jonathan Kimmelman, Against pandemic research exceptionalism In: Science. Advance online publication April 23, 2020, doi: 10.1126 / science.abc1731 , accessed April 25, 2020
  9. Flexo preprint process. Association of the Corrugated Cardboard Industry, accessed April 25, 2020 .