Why I Love Pre-Prints


They’re Quick

In many ways, I am fundamentally unsuited to be an academic.

They Allow Publication To Be Psychologically Satisfying


Pre-prints allow updating, with version control

In an ideal world, I would be allowed to hold the very last earthly copy of some published papers, and burn them in some kind of Eyes Wide Shut ceremony. Weird robes mandatory, weird sex optional.


They Flag Me As A Participant In A Conversation.

They Establish Precedence

The fear of ‘scooping’, that someone will come along and publish the same result as you first, is often overblown. People are so worried about this, but often for no reason — the scooping bogeyman is usually a combination of a few bad stories and a lot of negativity.

Pre-Prints Allow Everyone to Read It

Well, obviously. This is the point people mention most about pre-prints. Streamline and democratise the access to information.

My Papers Can Be Beautiful. Or Ugly.

There is great satisfaction in clean, beautiful documents. Many journal articles are fine, others are desperately ugly.

Publication Times Might Last Longer Than My Job

I have a 12 month contract. After some fairly heavily lifting late last year, this got renewed for another 12 months. It’s a guarantee of nothing more than what it says. This is not is a peculiarity of my situation, in many universities this is standard or even mandatory for postdocs.


Pre-prints help me live my life, and avoid the strong ongoing temptation to move to south-east Asia and become an mahout.



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James Heathers

James Heathers

I write about science. We can probably be friends.