printed monographs to an international body of reviewers. The director of one
review site told us that his single greatest expense each year is the approximately
$10,000 needed to mail books to reviewers around the world.
Preprints and Working Papers (10 resources)
Preprint and working-paper servers provide scholars with access to new
research and permit them to share their own work without the delay a journal’s
lengthy peer-review and publication process can cause. The study results
suggest that today the landscape for these servers is dominated by the oldest,
largest preprint servers like Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and arXiv,
although the study surfaced smaller working-paper exchanges in some niche
fields as well. The scholars who suggested preprint servers tend to use them
very frequently, both to share their own work and discover the work of others.
Disciplinary culture seems to play a role in influencing the extent to which
preprint sites are adopted. In economics, where the National Bureau of
Economic Research had distributed printed and bound working papers for
decades before use of the Internet was widespread, this tradition of sharing
early work seems to have easily translated to the Internet in the form of an
abundance of preprint and working paper resources. While large preprint
resources are expanding into new disciplines—SSRN recently branched into
the humanities, for example—others deliver a service to a well-defined niche
audience. PhilSci Archive, for example, focuses on the philosophy of science;
the discipline has many overlaps with theoretical physics, and was in fact
inspired by arXiv. It has no plans to expand into other fields, but instead
hopes to continue establishing its importance in a tightly knit community.
Nearly all of the preprint resources examined in this study are open access.
Even SSRN, a commercial site, makes any paper uploaded voluntarily by a
researcher freely available, though it generates revenue through institutional
subscriptions to curated networks of content and through its Partners in
Publishing program. Most of the other preprint sites examined make their
content available for free and had few apparent strategies to generate revenue
outside of grants and support from host institutions. While some niche
preprint servers like PhilSci Archive model themselves after existing sources,
other sites experiment with newer models for exchanging work. The Online
Feminist Philosophy Draft Exchange, for example, utilizes a Google Group to
exchange working papers.
RLI 263 14
Digital Scholarly Communication: A Snapshot of Current Trends
C O N T I N U E D
APRIL 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC