The mission of the American Society for Microbiology is to promote and advance the microbial sciences. ASM achieves its mission, in part, by publishing 12 peer-reviewed primary research journals, including 4 highly regarded open-access journals: mBioÂ®, genomeAnnouncementsÂ®, mSphereÂ®, and mSystemsÂ®. Faithful to its mission, ASM is firmly convinced that preprints facilitate the rapid dissemination of research results and strongly supports their use. Preprints are defined in the NIH RFI (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-006.html) as a complete and public draft of a scientific document that may be made public before it is final, and often is intended to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for subsequent publication.
ASM journals accept submission of manuscripts previously posted on preprint servers and encourages the citation of unpublished preprints. ASM places a high premium on authorsâ€™ control over the dissemination of their research. To this point, and to facilitate and promote the use of preprints, ASM recently enabled direct submission of manuscript files and metadata from bioRxiv directly to all of its primary research journals through our manuscript submission system. This mechanism offers authors a convenient one-click submission of preprints from bioRxiv to ASM journals. In addition, in January of 2017, ASM launched mSphereDirect, a special submission track for mSphereÂ®, which couples rigorous peer review with full author control of the peer-review process. The mSphereDirect model extends and strengthens preprints, which play a key role in this particular publishing model (see http://msphere.asm.org/content/mspheredirect).
ASMâ€™s Unwavering Support of Preprints
ASM believes that preprints can help authors gain visibility for their work when they think it is ready to be shared. Authors may choose to receive feedback on a preprint manuscript before submitting to a journal, or may post the preprint at the same time that they submit the manuscript to a journal. In either case, the scientific community and the authors benefit immediately from any valuable findings reported in the preprint, which later can be affirmed by publication of the final, peer-reviewed, edited manuscript in a well-respected journal. ASM favors an ecosystem where preprints and journals coexist, synergize, and add value for authors and for the community. For these reasons, ASM developed the mSphereDirect model, in addition to interfacing all ASM primary research journals with bioRxiv.
ASM Supports the Use of Preprints in NIH Review as Clearly Distinct from Peer-Reviewed Publications
ASM also supports the proposal that NIH allow preprints to be included in grant applications and progress reports, provided they are listed separately from peer-reviewed journal publications, given that they serve different purposes and hold different status. While ASM supports this proposal, it voices concern for expanding the role of preprints. In particular, ASM questions the need to impose on preprints standards similar to those required for high-quality publication in scholarly journals. Requiring features such as machine-readable, extractable text and data formatting would inappropriately extend the impact of preprints beyond that of the â€śinterim research productsâ€ť described by the NIH.
ASM's Unwavering Support for Peer Review
ASMâ€™s support of preprints does not in any way diminish recognition of the essential value of peer review to help validate the quality and trustworthiness of the science disseminated through our journals, and ASM in no way sees preprints as a substitute for edited peer-reviewed publications.
While there is always room for improvement of peer review, journals offer the best way to evaluate and improve scientific papers. Thoughtful reviews help authors improve their work, and journals ensure that ethical and data-sharing standards for the field have been met. Finally, the infrastructure of online journal publishers ensures ease of readability by humans and machines, links to valuable related resources, facilitated data- and text-mining, and thorough indexing by third parties, all of which contribute to enhanced discovery.
In conclusion, ASM supports preprints and their use in NIH grant applications, seeing both preprints and journal articles as critical and distinct components of the scientific scholarly forum, which help ASM achieve its mission of promoting and advancing the global field of microbial sciences.