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.

New SocArXiv



Richard Poynder has a very informative post about the recent takeover of SSRN by Elsevier and the timely, concurrent launch of a new preprint server for the social sciences, SocArXiv. The new service is built on the Open Science Framework platform.

So what is SocArXiv? As the name suggests, it is modelled on the physics preprint server arXiv, and describes itself as a free, open access, open source archive for social science research. Authors are able to upload their preprints to the service and make them freely available to all. The papers will be provided with permanent identifiers to allow them to be linked to the latest version, or to versions published elsewhere. They can also be made available under Creative Commons licences, and analytics data will be provided to show how often papers have been accessed.

Learn more on SocOpen, the SocArXiv blog.

bioRxiv: The Preprint Server for Biology


Science reports the creation of a new preprint server called bioRxiv whose goal is to be the biologists’ counterpart to the physicists’ arXiv. From the Science article:

. . . . BioRxiv, launched yesterday by the nonprofit Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), aims to be biologists’ version of arXiv, the popular preprint server where physicists have shared their draft manuscripts for more than 20 years. The goal is to speed the dissemination of research and give scientists a way to get feedback on their papers before they are formally peer-reviewed, says John Inglis, CSHL Press executive director. “There is a growing desire in the community for this kind of service,” Inglis says.

It will be free to submit a paper or to read it in bioRxiv, Inglis says. CSHL is paying the costs of the service (he declines to specify them) but hopes that, like arXiv, it will ultimately attract contributions. Although anybody can submit a paper, not everything will be posted: A group of more than 40 “affiliate” scientists have agreed to screen submissions to “assure us that this is real science,” Inglis says. “We certainly don’t want the enterprise to be sunk by publishing a load of crap.”

Another limitation is that bioRxiv is for life sciences, not medicine, so it will not publish clinical trials or other research that is “medically relevant,” Inglis says. Human genetic data could be posted, however. . . .