A preprint is essentially the final version of your manuscript, ready to be sent out for consideration by a journal publisher. It has not yet been accepted or peer reviewed.
In the traditional publishing model, this preprint is submitted to a journal and then goes through a process of review and revision before becoming available to subscribers of that journal - a process that can sometimes take years.
The preprint model sees your manuscript uploaded in its raw form to a repository or server where it becomes available almost immediately. Here it can attract feedback and comment from peers in your field, and from other disciplines, allowing revision and development before going to a journal publisher.
This immediacy has been particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing rapid dissemination of information. However it is important to remember that preprints are NOT peer reviewed and should be read or cited with a degree of caution.
Good reasons to consider preprinting include:
Since the emergence of the first preprint server, arXiv, in the early 1990's, a large number of discipline specific and general repositories have been developed.
Ask your colleagues which repositories are used in your discipline, or use the links listed below to search for preprint servers:
Image compiled by Jeroen Bosman (@jeroenbosman) via Bianca Kramer (@MsPhelps)
For answers to more questions about preprints, check out the FAQ's on the ASAPbio website.