The good folks at the Academic Life Histories blog asked if I wouldn’t mind contributing some thoughts about preprints.
I’ve been writing scientific papers since 2010, not counting the physics paper I landed on as an undergraduate in 1999. For the last three years, I’ve put almost every paper I’ve written on a preprint server before submitting it to a journal. In certain corners of academia, this fact warrants an explanation. Some want to argue it’s a bad idea, others may be curious, and others may be fully on board but just want to hear another perspective. This is my perspective. Caveat: Some of my characterizations about the process of doing science, or of the peer review experience, may not ring true for some readers. So it goes.
I think preprints are great. A big part of why preprints are great is because they aren’t journal articles. As such, I’m going to start out by talking about the problems with journals and with peer review, and then swing back around to talk about how preprints help us solve some of these problems. I also think journals are still valuable and I don’t want them to go away, and so I view preprints as a valuable complement rather than as a replacement. Here we go.