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Commercial? No
Type of site Science
Available language(s) English
Created by Paul Ginsparg
Launched 1991
Alexa rank 15,056
Current status Online

The arXiv (pronounced "archive", as if the "X" were the Greek letter Chi, χ) is an archive for electronic preprints of scientific papers in the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, quantitative biology and statistics which can be accessed via the Internet. In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are placed on the arXiv. As of 3 October 2008 (2008 -10-03), passed the half-million article milestone, with roughly five thousand new e-prints added every month.[1]


[edit] History

The arXiv was originally developed by Paul Ginsparg and started in 1991 as a repository for preprints in physics and later expanded to include astronomy, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear science, quantitative biology and, most recently, statistics.[2] It soon became obvious that there was a demand for long term preservation of preprints. The term e-print was adopted to describe the articles. Ginsparg was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002 for his establishment of arXiv.

It was originally hosted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (at, hence its former name, the LANL preprint archive) and is now hosted and operated by Cornell University, with mirrors around the world. It changed its name and address to in 1999 for greater flexibility. It has been mistakenly claimed that the origin of the original hostname "xxx" was that it was one better than "www" in every way, but predated the World Wide Web. Also, it is sometimes claimed[who?] that some content-control software programs were preventing some users from accessing it at its previous address,, under the impression that the XXX in its name implied that it was a pornographic site; however, legislation such as CIPA was not passed until later, and there is no evidence that users were significantly hampered by such programs.

Its existence was one of the precipitating factors that led to the current revolution in scientific publishing, known as the open access movement, with the possibility of the eventual disappearance of traditional scientific journals. Professional mathematicians and scientists regularly upload their papers to for worldwide access and sometimes for reviews before they are published in peer reviewed journals.

The operation of arXiv is currently funded by Cornell University and by the National Science Foundation.[3]

[edit] Peer-review

Although the arXiv is not peer-reviewed, a collection of moderators for each area review the submissions and may recategorize any that are deemed off-topic. The lists of moderators for many sections of the arXiv are publicly available[4] but moderators for most of the physics sections remain unlisted.

Additionally, an "endorsement" system was introduced in January 2004 as part of an effort to ensure content that is relevant and of interest to current research in the specified disciplines. The new system has attracted its own share of criticism for allegedly restricting inquiry. Under the system, an author must first get endorsed. Endorsement comes from either another arXiv author who is an endorser or is automatic, depending on various evolving criteria, which are not publicly spelled out. Endorsers are not asked to review the paper for errors, but to check if the paper is appropriate for the intended subject area. New authors from recognized academic institutions generally receive automatic endorsement, which in practice means that they do not need to deal with the endorsement system at all.

The lack of peer-review, while a concern to some, is not considered a hindrance to those who use the arXiv. Many authors exercise care in what they post. A majority of the e-prints are also submitted to journals for publication, but some work, including some very influential papers, remain purely as e-prints and are never published in a peer-reviewed journal. A well-known example of the latter is a potential proof of Thurston's geometrization conjecture, including the Poincaré conjecture as a particular case, uploaded by Grigori Perelman in November 2002. Perelman appears content to forgo the traditional peer-reviewed journal process, stating "If anybody is interested in my way of solving the problem, it's all there [on the arXiv] - let them go and read about it."[5]

While the arXiv does contain some dubious e-prints, such as those claiming to refute famous theorems or proving famous conjectures such as Fermat's last theorem using only high school mathematics, they are "surprisingly rare" (see Jackson 2002 in references). The arXiv generally re-classifies these works, e.g. in "General mathematics", rather than deleting them. [6]

Nineteen scientists, for example, Nobel laureate Brian Josephson, testified that none of their papers are accepted and others are forcibly recategorized by the administrators of the arXiv either due to the controversial nature of their work, or it not being canonical to string theory, in what amounts to intellectual censorship.[7]

[edit] Submission process and file size limitations

Papers can be submitted in several formats, including LaTeX, PDF printed from a wordprocessor other than TeX or LaTeX, and DOCX from MS Office. For LaTeX, all files needed to generate the article automatically must be submitted, in particular, the LaTeX source and files for all pictures. The submission is rejected by the arXiv software if generating the final PDF file fails, if any image file is too large, or if the total size of the submission (after compression) is too large. The size limits are fairly small and often force the authors to convert images to achieve a smaller file size, e.g. by converting Encapsulated Postscript files to bitmaps and manipulate the file size by reducing resolution or image quality in JPEG files. This requires a fairly high level of computer literacy. Authors can also contact arXiv if they feel a large file size is justified for a submission with many images.

[edit] Access

The standard access route is through the website or one of several mirrors. Several other interfaces and access routes have also been created by other un-associated organisations. These include the University of California, Davis's front, a web portal that offers additional search functions and a more self-explanatory interface for, and is referred to by some mathematicians as (the) Front.[8] A similar function is offered by, launched in September 2006 by the Institute of Physics. Google Scholar and Windows Live Academic can also be used to search for items in arXiv.[9] Finally, researchers can select sub-fields and receive daily e-mailings or rss feeds of all submissions in them.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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