Biorxiv Fails Spectacularly as a Preprint Server

Biorxiv Fails Spectacularly as a Preprint Server

In the early days of Biorxiv, I was a strong supporter of the fledgling preprint server (see here and here. After using the physics preprint server (Arxiv) in my past life, I thought Biorxiv would become something similar and encourage the biologists to collaborate openly. Although I had lingering doubts about the biologists switching from their secretive mode of worrying about getting scooped to sharing openly, never did I expect the preprint server itself to turn into a gated community.

Fast forward to 2020, and I submitted my first Biorxiv preprint. All my earlier papers were in collaboration with the biologists, and I could not convince them to use Biorxiv. This time, the work was done with a young student. So, I dreamed of showing the new generation how to embrace open biology. The paper had nothing controversial. We analyzed the start codons of thousands of bacterial genomes and found a set of genes, which systematically preferred to use non-ATG start codons.

To my utter surprise, the paper got “rejected” from Biorxiv. I asked around and found several others to report the same experience. It appears that Biorxiv is now a gated preprint server, which by itself is a ridiculous concept. Moreover, the policy of why Biorxiv censors some preprints and allows others is completely opaque, which makes me believe the process promotes connected insiders over the rest.

On top of that, I find Biorxiv adding all kinds of hilarious notes to the papers. Check this one for example. Below the title, Biorxiv tells us - “This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review”. So, we learn that peer review “certifies” papers. Tell that to Grigori Perelman, whose proofs submitted to arxiv were never “certified”, or John Ioanidies, who wrote - “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”. Peer review does nothing to a paper other than give it a fake stamp so that a journal can charge authors money. I should also mention that the paper by Sudhir Kumar mentioned earlier is already published in an official journal. Therefore Biorxiv is giving you wrong information as well.

In summary, Biorxiv is a fake preprint server controlled by insiders pretending to be a real one. I feel embarrassed that I ever recommended it to anybody. In future, I will tell everyone to stay away and use zenodo or arxiv instead.

Written by M. //