eLife has announced that it is transitioning to a new ‘publish, then review’ model for science publishing, in which the journal will exclusively review preprints and its editors and reviewers will focus on producing high-quality peer-reviews that will be made public alongside the preprints.
These steps advance eLife’s mission of transforming the communication of new biology and medicine research, and come amid increasing support for preprints within the life science community, including eLife authors. A recent internal analysis showed that around 70% of papers under review at eLife were already available as preprints. The organisation began trialing the system with Preprint Review – an opt-in service for reviewing preprints posted on bioRxiv, which has seen more than 250 papers reviewed since its launch in May 2020.
From now, if a paper that eLife decides to send-out for peer-review is not already on a preprint server, the journal will post it to bioRxiv or medRxiv, as appropriate, on behalf of the authors. For the first six months, eLife will give authors with lingering concerns about posting a preprint of their work the option to opt-out and explain their reasons, so the organisation can understand and try to alleviate their concerns in the future.
eLife is refocusing its editorial processes towards transforming preprints into ‘refereed preprints’ that include a public assessment of the work prepared by the journal’s reviewers and editors. This will involve providing updated instructions for its reviewers to capture what should and should not be included in public reviews, and modifying its editorial processes to focus on the production of these reviews.
The new policy is another step towards a long-term plan to create a system of curation around preprints that replaces journal titles as the primary indicator of a paper’s perceived quality and impact. Until such a system is in place, eLife will continue to select and publish papers in its journal as it always has.
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