The ARVO journals have adopted a new policy allowing manuscripts that have been previously posted to a preprint archive to be considered for publication. The policy allows researchers to use unpublished manuscripts, or "preprints," as a way of communicating preliminary results before they have been peer-reviewed and published in a journal. The editors-in-chief made this decision to better serve the needs of the eye and vision science community.
For many years, avoiding duplicate or excessively overlapping publications has been a concern of journal editors. For example, duplication or excessive overlap of content may be fraudulent when authors take credit twice for the same work (self-plagiarism) or once for someone else’s work (plagiarism). However, common exceptions to the rule have long existed. For example, ARVO journal editors allow authors to reuse content from their own PhD theses — one rationale being that a thesis is not widely circulated. Similarly, it has been common practice for many years for authors to share preprints of their articles with colleagues, again usually with limited distribution.
The advent and recent rise in popularity of online preprint servers such as arXive and bioRxiv has changed availability of preprints, which are now commonly accessible to anyone online. This has forced editors to consider whether posting a preprint should preclude the subsequent publication of the same material in a peer-reviewed journal on the grounds of prior-publication. This trend has increased the acceptance of preprints as a legitimate way of communicating preliminary results. The vast majority of journals now consider manuscripts that have already been posted as preprints, major funding agencies such as NIH and Wellcome Trust now allow citation of preprints in grant proposals and grant reports and general awareness of preprints among scientists has greatly increased.
Should you or shouldn't you preprint?
ARVO authors are encouraged to consider the advantages and disadvantages of posting their work as a preprint before doing so. Public availability prior to journal publication may be useful in some cases, but in other cases may not be appropriate. For example, preliminary clinical content posted prematurely may be read by patients and unduly influence them. To discourage this practice, some clinical journals do not accept material that has been previously posted as a preprint.
Refer to the newly updated author guidelines
for more details about the ARVO journals prior publication policy, including associated responsibilities for authors.