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Re: Role of arXiv

On Thu, 7 Oct 2010, Joseph Esposito wrote (in liblicense):

> 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?

It varies by field. In HEP and Astro, most published journal 
articles are also self-archived in Arxiv, but extremely few 
papers that are self-archived in Arxiv are not (eventually) 
published in journals.

> 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).

No one wants Arxiv to disappear, but I'll bet that within a 
decade Arxiv will just be an automated harvester of deposits from 
authors' own institutional repositories, not a locus of direct, 
institution-external deposit. In the age of Institutional 
Repositories, it is no longer  necessary -- nor does it make 
sense -- for authors to self-archive institution-externally. It 
is also a needless central expense to manage deposit centrally. 
It makes much more sense to deposit institutionally and harvest 

> 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?

Once all universities have IRs and IR self-archiving mandates, 
there will be no need to fund repositories for 
institution-external deposit. Harvesting is cheap. And each 
university's IR will be a standard part of its online 
> 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?

The IR cost per paper deposited will be closer to 50c than $50, 
once all universities are hosting their own output, and mandating 
that it be deposited.

> 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?

Guess again! Once the burden of hosting, access-provision and 
archiving is offloaded onto each author's institution, the only 
service that journals will need to provide is peer review, and 
hence journals will be charging institutions a lot less than they 
are charging now. (Print editions as well as online editions and 
their costs will be gone too.)

Stevan Harnad