Preprint license confusion


A new article in Nature highlights the confusion authors experience in choosing a license for preprints submitted to bioRxiv.

According to statistics from bioRxiv, 29% of authors have decided to append no licence at all to their work. On the site, these are labelled: “All rights reserved. No reuse allowed without permission.” Saskia Hagenaars, a geneticist at Kings College London says that her team chose this option because “we don’t want people freely using the non-peer reviewed versions of our papers”.


One reason for researchers’ hesitancy to choose open licences may be that some journals frown on them. Giulio Caravagna, a computational biologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, decided not to openly licence his bioRxiv preprint because it gave his team “full rights to proceed further with submission to any journal that we want to target”. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS), for instance, says it will only publish papers arising from preprints that don’t have CC licenses, because it feels that these are not compatible with its own licensing terms. But Himmelstein has found a dozen CC-BY preprints that led to work published in PNAS — and the publisher says it has never enforced its rule.

The full article also contains some interesting insights about text mining preprints.

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