Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Pre-Prints, Post-Prints, E-Prints, and Institutional Repositories

A number of options are now available to academics and practitioners, who increasingly engage in research and want to share and make publically available the results of research. These options can include

  1. Publication via an Open Access route
  2. Publication through a commercially published academic journal
  3. A combination of both (which have come to be known as ‘Hybrid’ publications.

Whichever route is chosen, and increasingly the direction taken internationally by the Public Sector is towards Open Access publishing, a number of ‘terms’ or ‘descriptors’ have come into existence to describe the ‘status’ of an article intended for publication.

There are three main ‘descriptors’ which are used to describe this process. The main meanings attaching to these descriptors are provided below – but bear in mind, different publishers can attach different meanings to these terms – so it’s worth checking in advance, that the understanding you possess, or the descriptions provided below, match with those of your intended publisher. Some publishers provide guidance on the individual web pages of their journals.

Please note that the descriptions below should not be relied on for Legal Advice. The definitions/descriptions below are intended as general guidance. Please check with intending publishers to ensure you are aware whether there are additional meanings they attach to these terms.



A pre-print is a version of a scholarly or scientific paper that precedes formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journal. Essentially, it is the version of the paper which you submit to a journal publisher for acceptance for publication.

Some other uses of the term pre-print can include;

  1. The first draft of the article, before peer-review, even before any contact with a publisher. This use is most common among academics, for whom the key modification of an article is the peer-review process
  2. Another use of the term can be for the finished article, reviewed and amended, ready and accepted for publication - but separate from the version that is type-set or formatted by the publisher. This use is more common amongst publishers, for whom the final and significant stage of modification to an article is the arrangement of the material for putting to print.

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“A post-print is any version of the paper approved by peer review.

Sometimes it’s important to distinguish two kinds of post-print:

  1. Those that have been both peer reviewed but not copy edited and
  2. Those that have been both peer reviewed and copy edited.”

Increasingly, within academic publishing, Post-Prints are defined as the Digital or Electronic draft of an article or publication after it has been peer-reviewed.

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An e-print is a digital or electronic version of a research document that is accessible online, whether from a local institutional, or a central digital repository. Both pre-prints and post-prints, where these are nearly all managed digitally, are collectively referred to as E-Prints.

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Most academic institutions now possess web-based Open Access institutional repositories which can hold both pre and post-print versions of research which is either being undertaken or has been submitted for publication within an Open Access journal. Institutional Repositories can exist for a variety of purposes, such as completed research, as well as data generated by the research undertaken.

A listing of Institutional and Specialist Repositories can be accessed from this page

Many academic institutions, mandate through their Open Research policies, that both pre and post print versions of their research must be placed within the host organizations repository.

Tusla: Child and Family Agency is also in the process of constructing a Research Repository (which will exist as a component of its National Research Database) and additionally, a Data Repository is also in the process of construction

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