Most disciplines have built online repositories where scholars can share their preprints—working papers or early versions of scholarly or scientific papers that precede formal peer review. These preprint servers differ from institutional repositories like University of Houston's Institutional Repository in that they accept deposits from scholars at any institution.
Nonprofit preprint servers also differ from commercial services like ResearchGate and Academia.edu. The former are organized by nonprofit entities for the benefit of the research communities they server; the latter are social networking sites that have commercial purposes of selling user data. See "A Social Networking Site Is Not an Open Access Repository" from the University of California for more insight on this distinction.
Why are researchers sharing their work on a preprint server prior to submitting the manuscript to a publisher?
There are far too many general and discipline-specific preprint servers in operation to list here, and no definitive directory of servers exists. The abbreviated list below is intended to be a starting point.
For help finding an appropriate preprint server, or to ask any questions about these platforms, please contact Taylor Davis-Van Atta, Director of the Digital Research Commons.