Pre-prints are versions of scientific papers that the author uploads to a public server like a digital archive. Pre-prints can be early drafts, but often they are the almost final versions of the paper that will be published in a journal, before the publishers' typesetting is applied. Many journal publishers allow this form of publication, although several will only accept a paper if it has not been made visible elsewhere beforehand.
Pre-prints are often used to elicit comment from peers at early stages, or as a quick means to make visible a research paper in an openly accessible manner. Searching on a relevant discipline pre-print server can be a good way to locate current literature or open access materials, and to understand emerging areas in your research field, but bear in mind that you might not be viewing the final paper and the work within it might not have been peer-reviewed.
Split your topic into keywords: To find better and fewer results, think about your keywords. Make sure they accurately describe what you are looking for, and add more keywords to make your search more specific.
Think of alternative keywords: For example, 'cancer' could also be referred to as 'neoplasm'.
Search for phrases in "double quotation marks": For example, "DNA replication". This will search for the phrase as a whole, instead of the individual words.
Select a data range: For example, you may only want literature published since 2010. Most databases have the option to select dates.
For more help see our Finding resources guide, or contact your Librarian.