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Updates from Europe PMC, a global database of life sciences literature

Europe PMC team

 | 8 June 2020


Europe PMC to include the full text of COVID-19 preprints

In this pandemic, researchers have responded by publishing results rapidly, often through preprints.
In fact, up to half of the publications in Europe PMC on COVID-19 are preprints rather than peer-reviewed journal articles. Currently, the full text of these preprints are scattered as PDFs on preprint servers, or, available as a non-standard set of documents for machine learning purposes. 

In a new project, supported by Wellcome in partnership with the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), we will make the full text of COVID-19 preprints available on Europe PMC, a large and sustainable life sciences archive, for reading and reuse via a standard XML format, alongside peer reviewed full text articles. 

“Being able to easily search and read preprint full text on a site already frequented by millions of users means that they will be significantly more discoverable by people, and more open to scrutiny”, says Jo McEntyre, Associate Director of EMBL-EBI and Head of Literature Services. “We will make use of existing infrastructure to integrate these COVID-19 preprints into the typical ecosystem of publications – for example, linking to the underlying data”.

This will accelerate scientific research on COVID-19, provide an opportunity to build new open and rapid publication systems, and form a corpus for future history of science research.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to be the “Napster moment” for preprints, which in turn could herald a way in which research outputs are shared in the future.  Ensuring preprints are fully discoverable and reusable will help ensure that they are treated as first class research objects.  This initiative to make them fully discoverable through the Europe PMC repository will help to realise this goal.”
Said Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at Wellcome

In the coming weeks and months, we will be engaging with preprint servers and preprint authors to make as many COVID-19 preprints as possible available for reading and reuse via Europe PMC. If you are the corresponding author on a preprint on SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, published on one of the major preprint platforms, we will soon be asking you to review the Europe PMC version of your work.

Europe PMC has been indexing preprint abstracts since 2018 and has the experience in managing full text workflows at large scale. A total of approximately 150K preprint abstracts currently sit among all of PubMed (31M abstracts) and 6M full text articles shared with PMC in the USA. These are XML-based workflows based on international standards (JATS). Europe PMC has played a leading role in preprint community standards development and has hands-on expertise in publication workflows that include versions across multiple sources with diverse approaches.

In addition, Europe PMC has several mechanisms to integrate related material – whether it is data behind the paper to substantiate conclusions, ORCID claiming of preprints, inclusion of preprints in citation networks, or to comments on peer review platforms, impact metrics, or links to reagents.

Jessica Polka, Executive Director of ASAPbio said:

“This exciting initiative will create a reading experience that is not only more seamless, but also potentially richer. Openly licensed documents can be text mined and enhanced with SciLite annotations, adding context for readers. The inclusion of the full text of COVID-19 preprints in Europe PMC is an important step in the integration of preprints into the scholarly communications infrastructure.”

To find out more about this initiative, read the Preprints in Europe PMC page or write to Europe PMC at:

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Europe PMC is a service of the Europe PMC Funders' Group, in partnership with EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI); and in cooperation with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI/NLM) . It includes content provided to the PubMed Central (NLM/PMC) archive by participating publishers.