The arXiv of the future will not look like the arXiv

Authors : Alberto Pepe, Matteo Cantiello, Josh Nicholson

The arXiv is the most popular preprint repository in the world. Since its inception in 1991, the arXiv has allowed researchers to freely share publication-ready articles prior to formal peer review.

The growth and the popularity of the arXiv emerged as a result of new technologies that made document creation and dissemination easy, and cultural practices where collaboration and data sharing were dominant.

The arXiv represents a unique place in the history of research communication and the Web itself, however it has arguably changed very little since its creation. Here we look at the strengths and weaknesses of arXiv in an effort to identify what possible improvements can be made based on new technologies not previously available.

Based on this, we argue that a modern arXiv might in fact not look at all like the arXiv of today.


The prehistory of biology preprints: a forgotten experiment from the 1960s

Author : Matthew Cobb

In 1961, the NIH began to circulate biological preprints in a forgotten experiment called the Information Exchange Groups (IEGs).

This system eventually attracted over 3600 participants and saw the production of over 2,500 different documents, but by 1967 it was effectively shut down by journal publishers’ refusal to accept articles that had been circulated as preprints.

This article charts the rise and fall of the IEGs and explores the parallels with the 1990s and the biomedical preprint movement of today.

URL : The prehistory of biology preprints: a forgotten experiment from the 1960s



On the origin of nonequivalent states: How we can talk about preprints

Authors : Cameron Neylon, Damian Pattinson, Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin

Increasingly, preprints are at the center of conversations across the research ecosystem. But disagreements remain about the role they play. Do they “count” for research assessment?

Is it ok to post preprints in more than one place? In this paper, we argue that these discussions often conflate two separate issues, the history of the manuscript and the status granted it by different communities.

In this paper, we propose a new model that distinguishes the characteristics of the object, its “state”, from the subjective “standing” granted to it by different communities.

This provides a way to discuss the difference in practices between communities, which will deliver more productive conversations and facilitate negotiation, as well as sharpening our focus on the role of different stakeholders on how to collectively improve the process of scholarly communications not only for preprints, but other forms of scholarly contributions.

URL : On the origin of nonequivalent states: How we can talk about preprints


Comparing Published Scientific Journal Articles to Their Pre-print Versions

Academic publishers claim that they add value to scholarly communications by coordinating reviews and contributing and enhancing text during publication.

These contributions come at a considerable cost: U.S. academic libraries paid $1.7 billion for serial subscriptions in 2008 alone. Library budgets, in contrast, are flat and not able to keep pace with serial price inflation.

We have investigated the publishers’ value proposition by conducting a comparative study of pre-print papers and their final published counterparts.

This comparison had two working assumptions: 1) if the publishers’ argument is valid, the text of a pre-print paper should vary measurably from its corresponding final published version, and 2) by applying standard similarity measures, we should be able to detect and quantify such differences.

Our analysis revealed that the text contents of the scientific papers generally changed very little from their pre-print to final published versions. These findings contribute empirical indicators to discussions of the added value of commercial publishers and therefore should influence libraries’ economic decisions regarding access to scholarly publications.


How the Scientific Community Reacts to Newly Submitted…

How the Scientific Community Reacts to Newly Submitted Preprints: Article Downloads, Twitter Mentions, and Citations :

« We analyze the online response of the scientific community to the preprint publication of scholarly articles. We employ a cohort of 4,606 scientific articles submitted to the preprint database between October 2010 and April 2011. We study three forms of reactions to these preprints: how they are downloaded on the site, how they are mentioned on the social media site Twitter, and how they are cited in the scholarly record. We perform two analyses. First, we analyze the delay and time span of article downloads and Twitter mentions following submission, to understand the temporal configuration of these reactions and whether significant differences exist between them. Second, we run correlation tests to investigate the relationship between Twitter mentions and both article downloads and article citations. We find that Twitter mentions follow rapidly after article submission and that they are correlated with later article downloads and later article citations, indicating that social media may be an important factor in determining the scientific impact of an article. »


Usages, pratiques et besoins des chercheurs concernant les serveurs d’archives ouvertes

Le Centre Commun de Documentation de Lille1 désire mettre en place un serveur d’archives ouvertes destiné aux chercheurs dans le but de leur permettre d’archiver de façon pérenne leurs documents scientifiques et techniques et cela en toute sérénité. Dans ce cadre-là, mon stage a consisté à réaliser une étude comparative et une recherche approfondie sur les sites d’archives ouvertes tels que HAL, OATAO, SPIRE et ORBI, et cela sous forme de rapport d’audit.

J’ai ainsi essayé de distinguer les différents services (exemple : service de dépôt, service de consultation…) mis en place par les sites d’archives ouvertes, la composition de ces services en terme d’éléments structurants (exemple : divers critères de consultation, …) mais je me suis aussi placée du côté des chercheurs pour essayer de comprendre leurs pratiques actuelles en matière de dépôt, de consultation et de recherche de documents. Enfin, par l’intermédiaire d’entretiens semi-directifs, j’ai voulu savoir quels étaient leurs réels besoins en terme de services, d’architecture du site, … mais aussi de connaître leur avis et leur perception du site qu’ils utilisent actuellement.

The Lille1 Library wishes to implement a open archives website for researchers in order to enable them to archive their scientific and technical documents in a lasting way. In that context, my internship was to conduct a comparative study and thorough search on Open Archives sites as HAL, OATAO, SPIRE and ORBI in a form of audit report.

I tried to distinguish the different services set up by theses websites, the composition of theses services in terms of structural elements but I also place on the side of researchers in order to understand their current practices regarding filing, consulting and search documents. Finally, I wanted to know what their real needs in terms of services, website architecture,… but also their views and their perception of the site they use now.