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Tracking the popularity and outcomes of all bioRxiv preprints

By Richard J. Abdill, Ran Blekhman

Posted 13 Jan 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/515643

Researchers in the life sciences are posting their work to preprint servers at an unprecedented and increasing rate, sharing papers online before (or instead of) publication in peer-reviewed journals. Though the popularity and practical benefits of preprints are driving policy changes at journals and funding organizations, there is little bibliometric data available to measure trends in their usage. Here, we collected and analyzed data on all 37,648 preprints that were uploaded to bioRxiv.org, the largest biology-focused preprint server, in its first five years. We find that preprints on bioRxiv are being read more than ever before (1.1 million downloads in October 2018 alone) and that the rate of preprints being posted has increased to a recent high of more than 2,100 per month. We also find that two-thirds of bioRxiv preprints posted in 2016 or earlier were later published in peer-reviewed journals, and that the majority of published preprints appeared in a journal less than six months after being posted. We evaluate which journals have published the most preprints, and find that preprints with more downloads are likely to be published in journals with a higher impact factor. Lastly, we developed Rxivist.org, a website for downloading and interacting programmatically with indexed metadata on bioRxiv preprints.

Download data

  • Downloaded 3,117 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 645 out of 42,935
    • In scientific communication and education: 18 out of 285
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 9 out of 42,935
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 9 out of 42,935

Altmetric data


Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide


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