Ithaka’s Roger Schonfeld and Oya Rieger, in a Scholarly Kitchen post on the big publishers’ move to “take back control of preprints”:

Perhaps more significantly, however, they are bringing preprints inside their publishing workflows. This will afford them an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the version of record and its integrity. And, it will allow them to maximize their control over the research workflow as a whole, including datasets, protocols, and other artifacts of the research and publishing process. If successful, over time publishers will see fewer of the preprints of their eventual publications living “in the wild” and more of them on services and in workflows that they control. 

The post details existing pilots and/or in-the-works plans from four of the five oligopolists: SpringerNature, Wiley, Elsevier, and Taylor & Francis. One crucial question that Schonfeld and Rieger leave largely unaddressed: What is the status of so-called postprints on the platforms? Publishers have an incentive to discourage postprints—those accepted and peer-reviewed manuscripts that aren’t yet formatted. Could this move have the ancillary benefit (to them) of choking these off?

More fundamentally, this is a naked attempt at non-profit capture—at the ominous intersection of two existing campaigns: the (1) largely successful embrace of an APC-based open access model; and (2) the build-out of a soup-to-nuts researcher workflow software stack. The stakes are, therefore, enormous: The existing preprint community is largely nonprofit, scholar-led, and fee-free (funded through library/institutional membership programs). The 37 percenters are taking dead aim at a crucial piece of academy-owned infrastructure.

(Note: I have a dog in this fight, as co-founder of the nonprofit, scholar-led MediArXiv.)