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Re: Role of arXiv

I can answer or at least comment on some of your points Joe. Inline.

On Thu, Oct 07, 2010 at 10:42:55PM -0400, Joseph Esposito wrote:
> David Prosser's recent post on the deposit of articles in arXiv
> by Nobel laureates prompts some musings.
> What is the current uptake on arXiv for physics articles?  Is it
> 100%, that is, are there any articles in the field that are
> published in traditional physics journals that do not appear in
> arXiv?

The depends strongly on sub-field. In high-energy physics and
astrophysics/astronomy almost all published articles appear in
arXiv. In other areas the fraction is much lower. In recent years
we've seen rapid growth [1] of submissions in mathematics and in other
areas of physics such as condensed matter (the Nobel laureates aren't
new submitters though, they have submitted for many years).

> Considering the centrality of arXiv to the physics community, it
> is difficult to imagine that it would ever disappear (or that
> anyone would want it to).  My understanding is that arXiv is
> funded by a combination of support from Cornell, a large
> government grant, and contributions from other research
> universities.  If this funding were to disappear (I heard it was
> threatened a year or two ago), would arXiv be resurrected by the
> community?

CY 2010 funding current stands at about 75% contributions from user
institutions, 25% Cornell. We are delighted with the response to our
call for support [2]. Perhaps we'll even make the target of 85%
external support by the end of this first year!

There is no grant funding for arXiv operation. Paul Ginsparg has NSF
funding for information science research related to arXiv. This might
result in features that enhance arXiv but does not support normal
operation and development.

> Finally, once again taking the centrality of arXiv to the
> community it serves into consideration, what would happen if a
> modest deposit fee were assessed--say, $50 per article?  I am not
> suggesting that this should or should not happen; I am simply
> wondering what the outcome would be.  (BioMed Central, PLoS, and
> Hindawi all charge more than this, though they provide additional
> services.)  Would the number of deposits remain about the same?
> Would the number drop?  And if it dropped, how precipitously?

This is a really interesting question though in our business model
planning [3] we considered it out-of-scope. Toll free access and
submission for individuals are considered foundational.

Assuming zero additional overhead, <$7/submission would fund arXiv at


[1] Submission stats for a few large subject areas:
[2] 2010 supporters:
[3] White paper on arXiv business planning process: