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Stacks of Papers for the BioRxiv

BioRxiv, a freely available preprint server for papers in the biological sciences, is up and running. The server is hosted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and according to a press release from the lab, bioRxiv is modeled after the popular physics preprint server arXiv at Cornell University.

To post an unpublished paper to bioRxiv, researchers submit it through a webportal and the paper is then sent to a group of bioRxiv-affiliated scientists who look it over to ensure that it is a legitimate scientific paper before it is posted. All told, CSHL says the time from submission to posting should take a matter of hours.

Papers may be housed under a variety of tags, including subject areas ranging from biochemistry to zoology, as well as by what type of results — new, confirmatory, or contradictory — they present. CSHL notes, though, that the server is for life science papers, but not papers on clinical studies or clinical trials.

John Inglis, the executive director of CSHL Press, tells ScienceInsider that the goal of bioRxiv is to enable scientific findings to be shared quickly. "There is a growing desire in the community for this kind of service," Inglis says.

ScienceInsider adds that the idea of a preprint server for biological papers is not new as a few journal publishers — Nature and PLOS, for example — have tried and subsequently shut down or altered their versions of a preprint server.

Leonid Kruglyak, who is a bioRxiv advisor, tells ScienceInsider that though biology journals have differing policies regarding preprints, preprint servers have been gaining ground among quantitative biologists.

"On occasion when … there have been debates about mimicking arXiv for biology there has been skepticism about the nature of the outcomes (my own rejoinder is that fields where a preprint culture is the norm, such as economics and physics, don't seem to be doing badly)," notes Razib Khan at his Gene Expression blog.

About nine papers are currently housed on the server.