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Why do some researchers publish preprints? I am not a scientist but asked this on a medicine professor. He said that it would be bad for a scientist's career if he or she publishes a preprint and someone takes the results and publishes the article before he or she gets the publication to a journal. Are there some benefits of preprints?

  • There were good answers but I was thinking the question more on the side that if someone takes your ideas and publishes the results before you. – layman Apr 13 at 15:22
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    It's worse for your career when you have to go back and forth with a journal for 18 months before you can get any credit for the work you've already done. Thanks to liars, any 'IN SUBMISSION' or 'IN PREP' line on your CV is worthless now without a preprint. – user120011 Apr 13 at 15:28
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Answer to this are going to vary depending on whether you ask a medic, a biolgist, a chemist or a physicist.

In physics pre-prints are just "the done thing". In biology they are becoming more common. In medicine they are still rare.

The easy answer to the question what happens if someone "publishes a preprint and someone takes the results and publishes the article before he or she gets the publication to a journal"? Then the answer is that this is precisely one of the things that a preprint is supposed to protect against - if you have a preprint out, you have evidence that you had the idea before the other person published. Many (although not all) biology journals these days will recognise the priority claim of a preprint. Thus, once you have preprinted, you are unscoopable.

As has been mentioned by @CJR in comments - it is also proof that you have done the work when you apply for a job. Papers in biology often take the full length of a PhD or a postdoc to complete. Thus you are unlikely to have the peer reviewed article out when you apply for a job. A preprint allows to you say "look - i really did the work and the paper really is written, even if its not out yet".

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