The emerging future of journal publishing and perception preprints

[a message sent to the vision researcher community of CVnet and visionlist]

Our community and our journals should become more aware of the increasing importance of preprints, and in some cases our journals and our community need to act and change policy.

Preprints are manuscripts posted on the internet openly (ideally, to a preprint service or institutional repository), often prior to being submitted to a journal. Niko Kriegeskorte and others have previously described some benefits of posting preprints at CVnet/visionlist and here. JoV editors have expressed sympathy with posting preprints and talked about ARVO changing its policy, but unfortunately JoV currently still has a page in its submission guidelines prohibiting “double publication” that rules out posting a preprint. Springer (AP&P; CRPI), Elsevier, the APA, Brill (Multisensory Research), and Sage (Perception, i-Perception), in contrast, allow preprint posting.

Preprint sharing in the biological sciences has been growing at a rapid rate and psychology is also growing, in part due to PsyArXiv, which launched late last year (I am on its Steering Committee). PsyArXiv currently hosts about 500 preprints. Its initial taxonomy did not include a separate category for perception, but I have been pushing for that in the hopes that people can eventually subscribe to category updates to help them stay abreast of the newest developments in perception. Later I will circulate a request for feedback regarding what categories and subcategories people would like to see added (e.g. visual perception, auditory perception, tactile perception).

Preprint sharing was born free and is a longstanding practice (in fact, circulating preprints was an early use of the internet), but in the last few years traditional corporate publishers have moved to grab land in an attempt to monetize preprints and the resulting scholarly infrastructure and journals that will be building on preprint servers. The non-profit Center for Open Science that built PsyArXiv and its sister site is working on creating extensions for PsyArXiv and other preprint servers, such as peer review, to allow the creation of low-cost open-access journals that receive submissions directly from preprint servers. The preprint server will host the final article as well as the preprint, dressed up with a journal page window onto it, a bit like existing overlay journals.

We can only be assured that publication practices and policies are compatible with these and other developments if journals are owned by scholarly societies, libraries, grant funders, or universities, NOT corporate publishers. To prevent the lock-in that has contributed to sky-high subscription prices and slowed the shift to open access, publishers should be contracted as a service provider to the scholarly community rather than owning our journals. Large research funders have recognized this and to reduce our reliance on publishers who own journals, the Wellcome Trust, Max Planck, and HHMI (eLife), and the Gates Foundation have over the last few years created their own open access journals.

We recently created an information resource,, to assist journal editors and scholarly societies in understanding what needs to be done to flip an existing journal from being publisher-owned to being scholar-owned, open access, and low cost. I’m interested in hearing peoples’ thoughts here. You can also contact me or Tom Wallis directly if you are interested in flipping a journal.

UPDATE: An earlier version erroneously stated that Springer does not allow preprint posting.

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