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Guest post: Introducing AfricArxiv - a preprint repository for African researchers

By AuthorAID Team | Aug. 24, 2018  | None  | Open access

Guest post from AfricArxiv co-founder Johanna Havemann, introducing the AfricArxiv preprint repository, and explaining how you can use it.

What are preprints and preprint repositories?

A preprint is a version of a research paper which is shared with the rest of the scientific community, usually before peer review and publication in a journal. Preprints have evolved to be an integral part of Open Science because they allow Open Access to research context, methodology and output before the often lengthy and competitive peer-review process of traditional publishing.

A preprint repository is a digital archive to deposit unpublished manuscripts (preprints), i.e. the final version of a research article draft before submission to a peer-reviewed journal. One other benefit is that funders and employers can access immediate results and research output. More than 80% of all academic peer-reviewed journals accept manuscripts that are hosted on a preprint repository.  

On June 25, the first pan-African preprint repository was launched: AfricArxiv.org.

Why do we need an Africa-specific preprint repository?

Having a repository specific to the African research community can trigger interdisciplinary research within the continent as well as globally with research institutions overseas. AfricArxiv is a platform for African scientists to publish their research output immediately and free of cost. This makes it possible to receive feedback on your work, improve the manuscript for submission to a peer review journal and identify potential collaboration partners for future projects.

Additionally to submissions in English, French and Portuguese, we welcome submissions in local African languages such as Akan, Twi, Swahili, Zulu, and we are building a pool of editors that can briefly check and approve these. It is often easier and sometimes more feasible to describe your work in your native tongue, especially (but not only) in social sciences.

How can I use AfricArxiv?

African scientists and scientists working on African topics and issues can upload preprint manuscripts as well as review papers, case studies, ‘negative’ results and ‘null’ results, data and methods papers, technical notes as well as dataset description papers.

Scientists can search through the repository to learn what other scientists on the continent are doing in their field of research.

Can I add supplementary data to the manuscript?

Yes. The infrastructure for AfricArxiv is provided by The Center for Open Science (COS; based in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA) with the Open Science Framework (OSF). OSF hosts preprint repositories free of charge for more than 20 science communities, such as AgriXiv, EarthArXiv, Arabixiv. All these repositories integrate with each other and provide high visibility to the articles published there. You can search more than 2 Million preprints here: https://osf.io/preprints/discover. All uploads are allocated with a DOI (digital object identifier) and indexed in Google Scholar.

With each manuscript submission you open a ‘project’ on the Open Science Framework platform which allows you to add supplementary data in any format with unlimited storage. You can also integrate from other services like Figshare, Dropbox and GitHub.

What are the criteria for acceptance?

Generally, we encourage submissions from African scientists based on the African continent, those who are currently based at a host institute outside Africa, or non-African scientists who report on research conducted on African territory (preferably with African co-authors listed), and non-African scientists who report on research relevant to African affairs. All submissions will briefly be checked for coherence and scientific relevance and likely be accepted for publication on AfricArxiv, unless plagiarism or other scientific misconduct is identified.

Prior to submission to AfricArxiv you should check if the journal you plan to publish accepts manuscripts that have been deposited on a preprint repository. Most academic journals do accept preprint publications. We recommend checking the SHERPA/RoMEO service for details, or the respective journal’s article sharing policy.

For further details read the AfricArxiv Submission Guidelines and comment or ask further questions directly in the document.

If you are not an African researcher, or your research isn't specific to Africa, there are still many other preprint repositories available to use - see the OSF preprint database for further examples.

Can I submit already published manuscripts to AfricArxiv?

AfricArxiv also accepts already published versions of the manuscripts (postprints); unless the journal and published policy has set an embargo period or other restrictions for deposition of the published version of the article. To find out if your published article can be submitted to a preprint just go to http://www.howcanishareit.com/, enter the DOI (digital object identifier) of your manuscript and check if “Center for Open Science” is among the search results listed in the right column. You can also check the Open Access policy of the respective journal or contact the editors.

Johanna Havemann is a trainer and consultant in Science Communication and Management, and Developmental Cooperation. She co-founded AfricArxiv with Justin Ahinon from the University of Parakou, Benin.


Open Access: Free and otherwise unrestricted, online access to peer reviewed and published scholarly research papers. Users are able to read published research as well as search for and re-use the content of published research papers subject to proper attribution.

Green Open Access: Self-archiving of a research article, where the work is made available online in an institutional repository – usually the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript before publishing.

Gold Open Access: Published article in a peer-reviewed open access or hybrid journal.

Preprint: Version of a research paper, typically prior to peer review and publication in a journal.

Postprint: Version of a research paper subsequent to peer review (and acceptance), but before any type-setting or copy-editing by the publisher. Also sometimes called a ‘peer reviewed accepted manuscript’.

Version of Record (VOR): The final published version of a scholarly research paper, after undergoing formatting (and any other additions) by the publisher.

e-Print: Version of a research paper posted on a public server, independently of its status regarding peer-review, publication in print, etc. Preprints, postprints and VORs are forms of e-Prints.

For further terms and acronyms check http://openaccess.ox.ac.uk/glossary/


Tennant, J., Bauin, S., James, S., & Kant, J. (2018, May 17). The evolving preprint landscape: Introductory report for the Knowledge Exchange working group on preprints. https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/796tu


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