Preprint

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(Redirected from E-print)

A preprint is a draft of a scientific paper that has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. As peer review takes quite some time (publication delay is at least several months and sometimes exceeds a year), preprints are the medium of choice to communicate current results within a scientific community.

Some preprints are great science; some are mediocre; some are nonsense. The minimal pre-publication quality control comes from the fact that the papers are intended for publication in journals. In deciding a legitimacy of a preprint, most scientists have an internal filter which takes into account a number of factors including who wrote the preprint.

In contrast to peer-reviewed publications, preprints are usually not taken into account when making hiring or promotion decisions in academia. Also, preprints tend not to be cited often. In citing references, most authors much prefer journal articles which are easier to find. (However, central preprint archives such as the ArXiv are beginning to change this.)

For at least the last decade, preprints tend to have been made public on the web rather than by distributing prints. The term e-print, or ePrint is sometimes used for preprints that are available electronically. This term is especially preferred in research areas where it has become common to publish very specialized or technical results of temporary importance only as e-print without submitting them to a peer-reviewed journal as they are expected to become superseded during the review delay.

This phenomenon was very prominent in theoretical high-energy physics and led to the creation of the ArXiv by Paul Ginsparg. As in some branches of physics the ArXiv has already more importance as medium of communication than standard journals, it is considered one of the driving forces behind the currently ongoing trend against commercially published scientific journals (see there for details about this controversy). (Hence, Ginsparg's creation is sometimes jokingly referred to as 'the most important contribution of string theory to physics').

Online sources of preprints

See also

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