By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Gregg Gordon: ‘The Future for Preprints Is Bright’As the academic publishing track of the all-digital Frankfurt Conference gets underway today, curated by Sven Fund—program information is here—Elsevier, based in Amsterdam, has announced that preprints from SSRN, the company’s early-stage research and preprint platform, are now available through Scopus Preview, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database.
As Sami Benchekroun, co-founding CEO of Morressier, is saying today in his presentation at Frankfurt Conference, it appears that “We’re at the end of the tortoise speed in scholarly communications,” and the widening acceptance and use of preprints may be part of that acceleration.
At Elsevier, the SSRN accessibility follows the indexing in Scopus earlier this year of preprints from arXiv, ChemRxiv, bioRxiv, and medRxiv.
The development, according to the company’s media messaging, comes in reaction to feedback and requests from the researcher community, as demand for and use of preprints has risen in recent years. At present, more than 1 million author profiles in Scopus have 900,000 preprints indexed to them dating back to 2017. By the end of this year, approximately 170,000 SSRN preprints dating from 2017 onward are expected to be included in Scopus, the company says.
In a prepared statement, Gregg Gordon—managing director at Elsevier’s Knowledge Lifecycle Management—is quoted, saying: “We’ve listened to the needs of the research community. This development in Scopus will improve discoverability and ease of access to SSRN content.
“Preprints are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research landscape,” Gordon says. “As well as providing a valuable early opportunity to understand the direction research is heading, preprints are a positive way for early career researchers to receive feedback ahead of submitting articles to journals.
“As evidence of how important they are becoming, preprints are increasingly included in formal evaluation processes for grant proposals and faculty reviews.
“We recognize the need to continue speaking to our customers, learn from them and address their needs. The future for preprints is bright, and we look forward to ensuring we remain attuned to what researchers want.”
The Growth of Preprints
SSRN is characterized by the company as an open-access online preprint community, functioning as a searchable online library. Authors use it to post their papers and abstracts, free of charge, and that creates an online database of early scholarly research posted there.
The system is said to have more than 2.2 million users, listing 806,000 full-text documents and an additional 134,000 abstracts.
Elsevier’s data, we read, shows that in the last five years, there’s been a 148-percent increase in the number of researchers publishing preprints on SSRN. The company also cites a 50-percent increase in the number of downloads of preprints on SSRN over the same period with downloads reaching 17.9 million at the end of 2020.
“Preprints are an increasingly important part of scholarly communication,” an assertion in Elsevier’s messaging has it. “As a complement to journal publication, they allow the research community to share information or indicative results, indicate a direction of travel for a project, and help facilitate international and interdisciplinary collaboration.”
In the last year, the fastest growing disciplines at SSRN were in economics and medical research. The rapid rise in medical research preprints has helped play a part in advancing and accelerating writings relative to SARS-CoV-2.
Preprints in Scopus are only available in author profiles that already have a peer-reviewed publication history.
Preprints are more prevalent in certain subject fields than others. The preprint servers selected for Scopus are the main preprint servers in the areas of physical sciences (arXiv and ChemRxiv), biomedical sciences (bioRxiv and medRxiv), and general sciences including the social sciences (SSRN).
Additional preprint servers, the company says, will be selected for Scopus as they arise in relevant subject areas.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.