JAMA discourages pre-print deposition

April 25, 2019

An alert from the Twitters points us to the author guidelines for JAMA. It appears to be the instructions for all JAMA titles even though the below tweet refers specifically to JAMA Psychiatry.

The critical bit:

Public dissemination of manuscripts prior to, simultaneous with, or following submission to this journal, such as posting the manuscript on preprint servers or other repositories, is discouraged, and will be considered in the evaluation of  manuscripts submitted for possible publication in this journal. The evaluation will involve making a determination of whether publication of the submitted manuscript will add meaningful new information to the medical literature or will be redundant with information already disseminated with the posting of the preprint. Authors should provide information about any preprint postings, including copies of the posted manuscript and a link to it, at the time of submission of the manuscript to this journal

JAMA is not keen on pre-prints. They threaten that they will not accept manuscripts for publication on the basis that it is now “redundant” with information “already disseminated”. The require that you send them ” Copies of all related or similar manuscripts and reports (ie, those containing substantially similar content or using the same or similar data) that have been previously published or posted, or are under consideration elsewhere must be provided at the time of manuscript submission “.

Good luck with that JAMA. I predict that they will fight the good fight for a little while but will eventually cave. As you know, I think that the NIH policy encouraging pre-prints was the watershed moment. The fight is over. It’s down to cleaning out pockets of doomed resistance. Nothing left but the shouting. Etc. NIH grant success is a huge driver of the behavior of USA biomedical researchers. Anything that is perceived as enhancing the chances of a grant being awarded is very likely to be adopted by majorities of applicants. This is particularly important to newer applicants because they have fewer pubs to rely upon and the need is urgent to show that they are making progress in their newly independent careers. So the noobs are establishing a pre-print habit/tradition for themselves that is likely to carry forward in their careers. It’s OVER. Preprints are here and will stay.

My prediction is that authors will start avoiding peer-reviewed publication venues that discourage (this JAMA policy is more like ‘prevent’) pre-print communication. The more prestigious journals can probably hold out for a little while. If authors perceive a potential career benefit by being accepted in a JAMA title that is higher than the value of pre-printing, fine, they may hesitate until they’ve gotten rejected. My bet is that on the main, we will evolve to a point where authors won’t put up with this. There are too may reasons, including establishment of scientific priority, that will push authors away from journals which oppose pre-prints.

Anyone else know of other publishers or journal titles that are aggressively opposing pre-prints?

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