In high energy physics scholarly papers circulate primarily through online preprint archives based on a centralized repository, arXiv.org, that physicists simply refer to as ‘the archive.’ This is not a tool for preservation and memory, but rather a space of flows where written objects are detected and then disappear, and their authors made available for scrutiny.
In this work I analyse the reading and publishing practices of two subsets of particle physicists, theorists and experimentalists. In order to be recognized as legitimate and productive members of their community, physicists need to abide by the temporalities and authorial practices structured by the archive. Theorists live in a state of accelerated time that shapes their reading and publishing practices around a 24 hour cycle.
Experimentalists resolve to tactics that allow them to circumvent the slowed-down time and invisibility they experience as members of large collaborations. As digital archives for the exchange of preprint articles emerge in other scientific fields, physics could help shed light on general transformations of contemporary scholarly communication systems.
Alternative location : http://arxiv.org/abs/1602.08539