In this special guest blog piece, PREreview Champion, Seun Olufemi, reflects on his own experiences and advocates for greater inclusion and recognition of preprint articles and preprint peer reviews as legitimate academic contributions within African research settings.

A photo of the author, PREreview Champion, Seun Olufemi

As a young and enthusiastic researcher, navigating the competitive landscape of academic opportunities can be both exciting and challenging.

I vividly recall a time when I eagerly applied for a prestigious program that seemed like a perfect fit for my aspirations. Confident in my application, I shared my intentions with a senior colleague, who encouraged me to proceed despite knowing that I hadn't yet published any articles in peer-reviewed journals.

At that point, I had a preprint article—a manuscript that had been shared publicly on a preprint server but had not yet undergone formal peer review. Although I believed in the strength of my research and the relevance of my application, I faced an unexpected disappointment: my application was not selected. Reflecting on the feedback, or lack thereof, I couldn't help but feel that my absence of published articles was a significant factor in the rejection.

This experience highlighted a critical issue in the academic community, particularly in African settings: the undervaluation of preprint articles. Here, I want to advocate for the inclusion and recognition of preprint articles and preprint peer reviews as legitimate academic contributions, especially for emerging researchers.

Understanding Preprints

Preprints are research manuscripts shared publicly before they undergo peer review. They offer numerous benefits:

  • Rapid Dissemination: Preprints allow researchers to share their findings quickly, fostering timely communication and collaboration within the scientific community.
  • Open Access: As freely accessible documents, preprints support the democratization of knowledge, making research accessible to a broader audience.
  • Feedback and Improvement: By sharing work early, researchers can receive valuable feedback from the community, potentially strengthening the final version of their paper.

Preprints in African Context

In many African institutions, the emphasis on traditional peer-reviewed publications can create barriers for early-career researchers. This focus often overlooks the potential and quality of research presented in preprint form. There are several reasons why we should reconsider this stance:

  • Leveling the playing field: Recognizing preprints can provide a more inclusive platform for researchers who may not have immediate access to high-impact journals but are conducting important and innovative research.
  • Encouraging innovation: Preprints can stimulate faster innovation by allowing new ideas and findings to be shared and built upon without the delays inherent in the traditional publication process.
  • Building research capacity: Supporting preprints can help build research capacity in African institutions by encouraging a culture of openness and collaboration.

Emphasizing Preprint Review

An essential aspect of integrating preprints into the academic fabric is emphasizing the review of preprints. Open preprint review platforms, such as, facilitate this process by allowing the community to provide constructive feedback. This community-driven review process can enhance the quality of research and help preprints gain recognition as credible academic contributions. Encouraging researchers to engage in reviewing preprints has multiple benefits:

  • Enhanced rigor: Community reviews can add an additional layer of scrutiny, improving the robustness and reliability of preprints.
  • Skill development: Researchers, especially early-career ones, can develop critical review skills and gain insights into various research methodologies.
  • Community building: Engaging in open preprint review fosters a collaborative and supportive research environment.

Moving Forward

To foster an environment that values preprint articles and their reviews, several steps can be taken:

  • Institutional policies: Universities and research institutions should revise their evaluation criteria to include preprints and preprint reviews as valid research outputs. This shift can be spearheaded by academic leaders who understand the evolving nature of scholarly communication.
  • Funding and opportunities: Granting bodies and program committees should explicitly state that preprints and their reviews are accepted forms of scholarly work. This inclusion can widen the pool of eligible candidates and promote diversity in academic and research programs. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting and leading in implementing this: as they will require articles resulting from work they fund to be posted as preprints and no longer cover fees for their publication in academic journals.
  • Awareness campaigns: Raising awareness about the value of preprints and preprint reviews through workshops, seminars, and online platforms can help shift the perception of preprints among faculty, students, and the broader academic community.


My personal experience underscored the need for a more inclusive approach to recognizing academic contributions. By advocating for the acceptance and recognition of preprint articles and encouraging robust community reviews, we can create a more equitable and dynamic research environment. This change is especially crucial in African settings, where the barriers to traditional publishing can be significant. Let us champion preprints, embrace open science, and pave the way for a more inclusive and innovative academic future.

Call to Action:

If you are a researcher, academic leader, or policymaker, I urge you to consider the role of preprints and preprint reviews in your evaluation processes. Researchers, particularly in Africa, are encouraged not only to post preprints but also to engage actively in reviewing them. Together, we can foster a research culture that values rapid dissemination, inclusivity, and innovation.

About the author

Seun Olufemi works as Research and Development Assistant II, at Helix Biogen Institute, Nigeria, where he uses bioinformatics and molecular biology techniques, to understand how diseases progress and to develop therapeutic treatments. Seun is a proponent of openness in science and decentralization of knowledge, currently, he co-leads initiatives in open science and cancer health.

Stay connected

You can follow us on X (formally Twitter), Mastodon, BlueSky, and LinkedIn, and keep up with all the latest news by subscribing to our newsletter.
If you would like to contribute a blog post to PREreview, please reach out to Vanessa Fairhurst on Slack or email with your ideas!