This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Peer-reviewed journal publication is the main means for academic researchers in the life sciences to create a permanent, public record of their work. These publications are also the de facto currency for career progress, with a strong link between journal brand recognition and perceived value. The current peer-review process can lead to long delays between submission and publication, with cycles of rejection, revision and resubmission causing redundant peer review. This situation creates unique challenges for early career researchers (ECRs), who rely heavily on timely publication of their work to gain recognition for their efforts. ECRs face changes in the academic landscape including the increased interdisciplinarity of life sciences research, expansion of the researcher population and consequent shifts in employer and funding demands. The publication of preprints, publicly available scientific manuscripts posted on dedicated preprint servers prior to journal managed peer-review, can play a key role in addressing these ECR challenges. Preprinting benefits include rapid dissemination of academic work, open access, establishing priority or concurrence, receiving feedback and facilitating collaborations. While there is a growing appreciation for and adoption of preprints, a minority of all articles in life sciences and medicine are preprinted. The current low rate of preprint submissions in life sciences and ECR concerns regarding preprinting needs to be addressed. We provide a perspective from an interdisciplinary group of early career researchers on the value of preprints and advocate the wide adoption of preprints to advance knowledge and facilitate career development.