Journal policy change: MBE will consider preprints

Molecular biology and evolution (MBE) has updated its policy to allow the submission of papers previously submitted to the arXiv:

All manuscripts published in arXiv are considered unpublished works. Manuscripts that appear on arXiv may be submitted to MBE for consideration for publication.

It is unclear whether these policies extend to other preprint sites, but presumably it may well do. It is great to see this policy change, and well done to Melissa Wilson Sayres, Antonio Marco [@amarcobio], and others for encouraging MBE to affect this change.

However, one less encouraging feature of this change is that MBE has also implemented a policy where preprint papers have to be cited as unpublished data in the text rather than as a citation appearing in the reference section. It is yet unclear how citation search engines, such as Google scholar, will interact with this form of reference. Will they register, and count, them as citations or go unnoticed?

One of the many appealing features of preprints is that they allow papers to being to be acknowledged and cited earlier. It is unclear why MBE feels that this policy is necessary, but in our view it seems counter-productive. Hopefully, this is something that can be changed, given time, and encouragement from MBE’s community.

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