Pre-print manuscript deserves a bit of grooming before being shared

PublicationOnce your paper was accepted in your favorite high-impact but closed-access journal, you thought that it would be forever prisoner behind a paywall. But think again. Most editors actually do allow you to freely share your papers. Although this is usually limited to post-print and pre-print versions, these version of the papers can then be shared on:

  • Personal webpage
  • Lab website
  • Scientific social media (Academia, Research gate…)
  • Pre-print repositories (ArXiv for physics, the upcoming bioRxiv)
  • Other repositories (universities, private institutes…)

Find out what the policy of your favorite journal is by using this great online tool.

But before you put your pre-print version online, think just a bit about what you are about to share. More often than not, the pre-published versions of manuscripts are not formatted and look nothing like the final document a publisher would release. Proper formatting and appearance are important to get your message across efficiently. Badly formatted paper are more likely to come across as un-professional and not trustworthy than well formatted manuscripts.

Not to worry, formating a paper is not an inaccessible task. Here’s an example of a before and after formatting. You will find the document is more concise, with the figures placed next to the corresponding to the text.


Paper formatting services are usually charged hundreds of dollars. Which makes them relatively inaccessible to most research groups. But the Internet is full of talented people, that can also be much less costly than traditional editing businesses. I’ve had great experience working with freelancers found on for example. There are plenty of other freelancer sites out there.

Quick and cheap formatting of scientific manuscript could enable massive number of previously inaccessible papers to be publicly available. With an increase trend in researchers bypassing traditional publishers to disseminate their scientific work, there might be a new market emerging for graphic designers and other professionals to create beautiful articles.

Trouble understanding publisher copyright policies for self-archiving? RoMEO service is here.

SherpaRomeoAuthors are increasingly encouraged to deposit their published articles in open access repositories. This can be institutional sites, personal or laboratory homepages or social websites. The one that do, often find the process a bit tedious but rewarding.

However, a majority of journals are not open access and limit the diffusion of the article in its published format. Every publisher have slightly different policies, some allowing only pre-prints (ie pre-refereeing), post-prints (ie final draft post-refereeing), or event full formatted text in certain case. In any case, the variety of policies can be discouraging.

Luckily, RoMEO, a service based  at the University of Nottingham, gathers the copyright and self-archiving policies of an impressive list of over 2200 journals.  Simply enter the name of the journal and the tool will display the journal’s policy concerning pre-print, post-prints and the publisher’s version, while detailing any restrictions that apply. To make it easier, RoMEO also assigns a color for each journal that corresponds to the degree of openness of the policies.

  • Green  – can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher’s version/PDF
  • Blue – can archive post-print or publisher’s version/PDF
  • Yellow – can archive pre-print
  • White – archiving not formally supported