The Lancet is conducting a six-month pilot project to see whether the medical community is ready for preprints. Authors submitting to any of the Lancet journals will be given the option of posting their manuscripts on SSRN, in a section called MedRN to go live in the next few weeks. They will be free for anyone to read with registration. More information is on their FAQ.
Preprints are early versions of papers that have not yet been through the formal peer review process. Similar to conference abstracts, they offer a way for researchers to discuss their work with a wider audience earlier with the goal of using the feedback to improve the final, peer reviewed articles.
In addition to the basic checks that most preprint servers conduct before posting submissions, MedRN will have some additional criteria unique to the health sciences such as IRB approvals, funding and conflict of interest statements, and prospective clinical trial registrations.
Both the Lancet and SSRN are owned by the publisher Elsevier. Another publisher, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, whose bioRxiv has been responsible for much of the growth of preprints in the life sciences, has announced it will be soon be launching medRxiv with coverage of clinical research areas.
The NIH began accepting preprints in grant application biosketches and progress reports last year.
Please send your thoughts about preprints to Gary Kaplan, Scholarly Communications Librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org).