Frequently asked questions
What is preLights?
preLights is a community platform for selecting and highlighting preprints across the biological sciences. Since we launched in early 2018 we have posted over 1000 preprint highlights and amassed a community of over 100 active preLighters.
How does preLights work?
At the heart of preLights is a team of early-career researchers (preLighters) who write a ‘News & Views’ type summary of new preprints they are interested in. This includes background to the preprint, an overview of the main findings, the preLighter’s opinion on the research, and questions they have for the author of the preprint.
Over two-thirds of our preLight posts have author responses to the preLighter questions, making preLights a unique platform for encouraging discussion around preprints.
Is preLights a preprint server?
No, preLights does not host preprints. We highlight preprints that have been posted on preprint servers such as bioRxiv and medRxiv.
Do preLights count as a publication?
No, preLight posts do not count as a publication, nor do they impact the peer review and publication process of preprinted manuscripts. preLights are preprint highlights, offering a ‘News & Views’ type perspective on new research that has already been posted on a preprint server.
Do preLights posts receive a DOI?
Yes, all preLight posts have a permanent DOI. The DOI is displayed on the bottom of the highlight seven days after it is posted on the website.
Are preLight posts indexed on other platforms?
Writing for preLights
How can I contribute to preLights?
If you are an early-career researcher (PhD student, postdoc or a PI for less than 5 years) and would like to write for preLights, we ask that you submit an application that includes:
- a short bio
- your motivation for joining the team
- a preLight that you have written about a recent preprint
Your preLight should aim to include i) a brief introduction to the topic, ii) a summary of the findings in the preprint, iii) your personal opinion on why the work is interesting/how it moves the field forward, and iv) questions you would like to ask the authors about their work.
We issue a call for preLighters in the spring of each year, but we are also happy to review applications on a rolling basis, so please email preLights (email@example.com) if you are interested in joining the team.
Why should I become a preLighter?
preLights is a brilliant way of gaining science writing and editing experience. You will be able to provide and receive feedback on preLights posts and expand your portfolio outside of traditional science manuscript writing. The preLights community is also a friendly environment for early-career researchers to engage in discussion with their peers and grow their professional network.
We expect preLighters to contribute a post about every two-to-three months, and also offer feedback and editing suggestions on other preLights posts over a similar time frame. In return we will aim to boost your profile as a trusted preLights contributor and are happy to provide recommendation letters or support you in other ways.
Can I only write about topics covered by journals published by The Company of Biologists?
No! We happily publish preLight posts covering any area of the biological sciences and science communication.
I’m not a native English speaker. Can I still become a preLighter?
preLights is an international community, and a lot of our contributors do not have English as their native language. preLight posts do not have to be perfect literary pieces – as long as you can clearly explain the core findings of the preprint and provide your own perspective then we welcome any early-career researcher to apply. In fact, writing preLights posts are a great way to improve written science communication skills, and the Community Manager is always happy to provide feedback and editing suggestions.
For preprint authors
Does having my preprint highlighted compromise the publication of the final paper?
No. preLights only highlights work that has already been deposited on a public preprint server. Once a preprint is posted, it is freely available for anyone to comment on or write about on any platform. Journals that have preprint policies accept that public commenting is part of preprinting, and we emphasise that the aim of preLights is not to provide peer-review for preprints.
preLights are not written in response to preprint authors seeking promotion, and other websites such as Nature News also feature preprints in ‘News & Views’ type posts.
As a preprint author, do I have to worry about journal embargo policies when responding to preLighter questions?
preLight posts are written by early-career researchers who are interested in new preprints. The nature of the questions raised in the preLight posts are therefore different to the ones referees typically raise during peer-review.
Further, as a community of researchers, we view discussions about preprints on preLights as similar to the discussions occurring on other platforms such as Twitter, and not communication with the media.
While so far we haven’t heard of author comments having negative consequences on their work being accepted at a journal, we encourage authors to contact their journal editor if they are worried about this. We are currently working to collate a list of publisher responses regarding authors commenting on preLight posts.
For preLights readers
Why should I register on preLights?
Anyone can register on the preLights website using the ‘Register’ button on the top right-hand side of the page. Registering allows you to tailor your topic preferences, so that new preLights posts that are relevant to your interests are shown under the ‘My interests’ tab on the main preLights page.
Can I sign up for a newsletter?
Yes, any registered user can sign up to receive our weekly round-up of new preLight posts and preLights news.
Is preLights on social media?
We regularly update our Twitter with links to new preLight posts, preLights news, and developments in the world of preprints! You can follow us on Twitter @prelights. We also have a Facebook page which is updated with a weekly round-up of all things preLights.
Can I comment on posts?
Yes, anyone can comment on a preLights post. At the end of each post you will see a box giving you the option to comment. If you have a preLights account and are logged in, you can comment right away. Otherwise you can add your name and email address (which is not displayed) and comment. Providing a name and email address is mandatory for commenting.
Are comments moderated?
Because preLights posts are written about other people’s research, comments must be approved by the Community Manager or the author of the preLights post before they are displayed. This also prevents spam comments from being shown at the bottom of posts.
How can I show I like a post or a comment?
Use the thumbs up symbol at the end of the post or next to the comment.
All about preLists
What are preLists?
preLists are a section on the preLights website where researchers can curate lists of preprints on a certain topic, or collect a list of preprints that have been presented at a specific conference. Researchers can also add a 1-2 line summary about why the listed preprints are interesting.
Can I create a preList if I'm not a preLighter?
Yes! You first have to register on preLights. During the registration, tick the box ‘I would like to create preList posts for the preLights site’. In case you are already a registered user on preLights, you can update your profile and request to become a preList contributor by ticking the relevant box.
For step-by-step instructions about creating a preList, click here.
Do the preLists get updated?
It is up to the preList contributor to update topic-specific preprint lists. Conference-related preLists are typically a one-off list compiling together all the preprints presented at a meeting.