bioRxiv gets a boost


Biologists have the option of posting preprints, articles that have not yet been through peer review, to bioRxiv. Modeled on the physics preprint server arXiv, bioRxiv is much newer, and its adoption by biologists (unlike arXiv’s by physicists) has been well short of universal. bioRxiv recently got a small boost, though, and I suspect it may be approaching a tipping point.

EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization, has announced that they will extend scooping protection to “recognized preprint servers,” which certainly includes bioRxiv. Their email announcement does a pretty good job of explaining what this means:


EMBO Press scooping protection now extended to preprints
Have you ever worried that posting your manuscript as a preprint might encourage another lab to quickly publish a competing paper? When publishing with EMBO Press, you no longer have to be concerned about being scooped.

EMBO Press will not reject a manuscript for having been scooped during peer review or revision. And now, we’ve gone one step further and extended this policy to preprints.

That means that as soon as you post your manuscript on a recognized preprint server, EMBO Press applies its scooping protection policy by ignoring any competing papers that are published between posting and submission to an EMBO Press journal, as well as during the review and revision process.

If you publish with EMBO Press, you can share your research early and keep the credit.

To learn more about the advantages of publishing with EMBO Press, visit our website.

So authors, at least those submitting to EMBO journals, now have one less reason to balk at posting preprints. By itself, this is only a small boost to bioRxiv’s prospects. EMBO publishes four of the hundreds (at least) of biology journals. The real question is whether or not other publishers will follow suit. I suspect they will. It’s an easy change to make, since bioRxiv preprints are already citable and are assigned a doi (digital object identifier). If scooping protection becomes standard, bioRxiv will provide authors the benefit of quickly establishing priority without the risk of reducing the prospects of publishing in a prestige journal.


  1. says

    Thanks for the nice summary of EMBO Press’s effort to encourage preprint posting, Matthew.
    As you note, the fear of being scooped as a result of openly sharing information is a major concern for biologists (and in fact extends to presenting unpublished data at conferences). We hope this policy does spread so that preprint posting is seen to be less risky.
    Also note that we offer full ‘scooping protection’ during revision to encourage folks not to rush back a revision at all costs.
    If anyone has questions or comments on this policy, please write directly. Otherwise encourage your favourite journal to adopt the policy or try it out at EMBO Press.

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