Comparing quality of reporting between preprints and peer-reviewed articles in the biomedical literature

Clarissa F. D. Carneiro, Victor G. S. Queiroz, Thiago C. Moulin, Carlos A. M. Carvalho, Clarissa B. Haas, Danielle Rayêe, David E. Henshall, Evandro A. De-souza, Felippe E. Amorim, Flávia Z. Boos, Gerson D. Guercio, Igor R. Costa, Karina L. Hajdu, Lieve Van Egmond, Martin Modrák, Pedro B. Tan, Richard J. Abdill, Steven J. Burgess, Sylvia F. S. Guerra, Vanessa T. BortoluzziOlavo B. Amaral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Preprint usage is growing rapidly in the life sciences; however, questions remain on the relative quality of preprints when compared to published articles. An objective dimension of quality that is readily measurable is completeness of reporting, as transparency can improve the reader’s ability to independently interpret data and reproduce findings.

Methods. In this observational study, we initially compared independent samples of articles published in bioRxiv and in PubMed-indexed journals in 2016 using a quality of reporting questionnaire. After that, we performed paired comparisons between preprints from bioRxiv to their own peer-reviewed versions in journals.

Results. Peer-reviewed articles had, on average, higher quality of reporting than preprints, although the difference was small, with absolute differences of 5.0% [95% CI 1.4, 8.6] and 4.7% [95% CI 2.4, 7.0] of reported items in the independent samples and paired sample comparison, respectively. There were larger differences favoring peer-reviewed articles in subjective ratings of how clearly titles and abstracts presented the main findings and how easy it was to locate relevant reporting information. Changes in reporting from preprints to peer-reviewed versions did not correlate with the impact factor of the publication venue or with the time lag from bioRxiv to journal publication.

Conclusions. Our results suggest that, on average, publication in a peer-reviewed journal is associated with improvement in quality of reporting. They also show that quality of reporting in preprints in the life sciences is within a similar range as that of peer-reviewed articles, albeit slightly lower on average, supporting the idea that preprints should be considered valid scientific contributions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch Integrity and Peer Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Quality of reporting
  • Scientific journal
  • bioRxiv
  • Publication
  • Peer review
  • Preprint


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