How can BioRxiv benefit me? The question many life scientists are asking themselves. For those that don’t know, BioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”) is a pre-print service where you can publish any life science article without going through the peer-review process. The concept of pre-prints is by no means new. It’s something physicists have been doing for decades! For biological sciences, it’s still very new and somewhat unknown.
BioRxiv was launched in 2013 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Since its launch date, thousands of articles have been published on the site. However, is it helping anyone? To find out, we asked some real scientists to tell us about their own experiences using BioRxiv. Read on and find out what they thought.
Miguel Almeida: PhD student @ Mainz, Germany
BioRxiv – a pivotal step to increase open access
As an author, I have deposited two preprints in BioRxiv, and very soon I will submit a third. I believe BioRxiv is a pivotal step in the right direction to increase open access and transparency in the life sciences publishing process.
My first first-author paper had a bumpy review process that dragged for months only to end up rejected. We posted to BioRxiv immediately after this rejection. Feedback from the community was prompt, the preprint gained visibility (with the help of Twitter), and most importantly, I had a huge weight off my shoulders. Within the next few days, we submitted to another journal using the direct transfer option available on the BioRxiv platform. This made the process way smoother. And guess what? The editor of the journal we submitted to had already seen our preprint, after it was shared by the community on Twitter, and was interested!
I will make it my prerogative to post all my publications in BioRxiv before submitting to a journal for peer-review.
I also use BioRxiv regularly to have access to the most recent research relevant to my work, months before a peer-reviewed version is published. Another advantage is the absence of an associated impact factor in a preprint since the reputation of journals can bias the critical evaluation of a paper.
So, to sum up, I can only recommend BioRxiv because:
1) Increases the visibility of your work (without the bias of having an associated impact factor)
2) Enables quicker feedback from the community
3) May streamline submission to other journals
4) Posting a preprint generates a feeling of accomplishment, before months of painful peer-review
5) It’s a format that works; other fields have been successfully using this type of preprint platforms for years (see for example Arxiv, https://arxiv.org/)
Because of all these reasons, in the future, I will make it my prerogative to post all my publications in BioRxiv before submitting to a journal for peer-review.
Emilis Bružas: PhD candidate/student @ Cold Spring Harbor, USA
BioRxiv provides an overview of the latest trends
I am also excited to submit my first author paper to BioRxiv in the next year.
I first encountered BioRxiv when I started graduate school at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the institution that runs the preprint service. Since then, I have read numerous unpublished manuscripts in cancer biology, which I usually discover through BioRxiv’s daily newsletter. Some of the work posted on this website has been useful for informing my own research. Furthermore, I like that BioRxiv provides an overview of the latest trends in the field without the delay of peer review, a process that has become increasingly lengthy and effectively slows down scientific communication. Although far fewer cancer biologists post their preprints on BioRxiv compared to neuroscientists, there is noticeable growth which will hopefully continue in the future. My advisor recently posted our lab’s first manuscript on BioRxiv to accelerate the dissemination of our findings. I am also excited to submit my first author paper to BioRxiv in the next year.
Luca Penso-Dolfin: Postdoc @ Norwich, UK
BioRxiv is a great way of sharing your results
I would definitely recommend BioRxiv
I have deposited only one manuscript in BioRxiv, but I used similar platforms during my PhD (Arxiv). BioRxiv is a great way of sharing your results and reach other people in the scientific community. Importantly, this comes with the huge advantage of not having to wait for your manuscript to go through the whole peer reviewing process, which can take several months. Depositing your manuscript as a pre-print also gives you a feeling of achievement, which can greatly help you after several months, if not years, of hard work! I would definitely recommend BioRxiv to any colleague. It enhances the open access nature of research and helps you to go through the long publication process, knowing that your work is already out there, recognized, and freely accessible.
Anthony Tran: Automation engineer @ San Francisco, USA
BioRxiv is an excellent place to share results with other scientists
I have been working as an independent researcher since I graduated from the National University of Singapore with a PhD in Biological Sciences. My graduate work fell shy of publication at the time as it wasn’t complete enough for a full story, and the project got lost in the shuffle after I departed from the lab. However, I recently was able to wrap up detailed bioinformatics analyses on my thesis data, which led to a breakthrough finding: that the N-end rule, a prominent protein degradation pathway in almost all living cells from plants to humans, was likely critical for how eukaryotes have evolved to maximize the benefits of harboring organelles such as mitochondria. You can read the article here.
My experience publishing on BioRxiv was very positive. It gave me a platform to easily share my findings with others in the field while I continued to work on the finer details of the manuscript and get feedback from those who read it. I would definitely recommend it to others, especially budding scientists who still have difficulty getting quality research published because they have not yet established their reputation.
My experience publishing on BioRxiv was very positive
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of scientists to evaluate on their own whether any published works they cite or extract data from hold water, whether peer-reviewed or not. With that said, BioRxiv is an excellent place to share results with other scientists who appreciate early access to novel results. This is a paradigm shift in how science is disseminated, and the sooner that more people accept this change, the sooner society will benefit from the work that life science researchers perform every day.
It seems that BioRxiv is worth a chance. Get your work seen. Receive feedback from the scientific community. Also, get that warm fuzzy feeling from putting some excellent science out into the world. Now you’ve seen all the benefits of using BioRxiv, give it a try! Make that science available to the world. No point storing it up for no one to see. Or just look for yourself, maybe you’ll find some exciting new science trending in your field of interest. To conclude – BioRxiv FTW!
Image by Max Langelott