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Free Online Scientific Repository Hits Milestone

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the a-whole-lotta-smart-stuff dept.

The Internet 111

ocean_soul writes "Last week the free and open access repository for scientific (mainly physics but also math, computer sciences...) papers arXiv got past 500,000 different papers, not counting older versions of the same article. Especially for physicists, it is the number-one resource for the latest scientific results. Most researchers publish their papers on arXiv before they are published in a 'normal' journal. A famous example is Grisha Perelman, who published his award-winning paper exclusively on arXiv."

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I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 6 years ago | (#25299367)

When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota, a professor instructed us to use Arxiv as a resource (I think Citeseer was another but paled in comparison). A large part of my undergrad and grad school days were spent perusing Arxiv and sometimes implementing ideas I had read in the Computer Science section. My hard drive became strained by the sheer number of PDF/PS files in my user directory. My room was littered with papers printed off to read on the bus or at work. My base knowledge of computer science I owe to my professors, most of the things beyond that came from Arxiv.

I owe a lot of my knowledge to that site. Here's to another 50,000 papers, Arxiv. And another and another and another ...

Also, the Arxiv Physics blog [] is a regular favorite in my Liferea news feed account.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 years ago | (#25299457)

Perhaps Arxiv works for the hard sciences, but for the social sciences and humanities giving people access to an online repository of papers doesn't necessarily mean that they can easily stay up to date with the field. I get the impression that a lot of current thought in the community of my field (linguistics) is passed on through relatively private e-mail lists and informal discussions at conferences, and might not be written down and published for years.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (2, Funny)

intothemiddle (1142025) | about 6 years ago | (#25299583)

Guess that's why they call it linguistics.. no wait.. you're being sarcastic right?

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#25299763)

If it's so informal, I have to wonder how Sociology and Literary Criticism stay up-to-date. [] ?

Too informal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299999)

The scientific repository is so informal, yet Afro-Americans everywhere are not reading it. Afro-Americans are caring too much about rap, hip-hop, following mindless trends, developing a shitty "fuck-you" attitude and acting like a thug (oops that's also a mindless trend, already covered that), venerating the ghetto, imagining that Whitey is the source of their negligence and lack of personal responsibility, making bastard children, voting for Obama because this Harvard-educated silver-spoon politico is "one of us" and chasing fat white women. Because of these and other things, Afro-Americans are not using this scientific repository, so obviously it must be a racist repository.

Remember folks, any failures or shortcomings of any approved minority group cannot be that group's responsibility, because that too would be racist.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#25299819)

That's true for biology and is undoubtedly true for physics as well. The bar is high for papers, a lot of your results by themselves prove nothing but strongly indicate things, confirming or denying your ideas. You can "know" something years before you can say it's true, and although that can be misleading, a lot of times your colleagues will be very interested in it.

Still, an online repository of papers is good for somewhat current stuff, full details, and getting information faster in many cases.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (2, Funny)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | about 6 years ago | (#25300261)

Ah, so you're working in the oral tradition, then?

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25300663)

perhaps that's simply an issue of convention. i don't see why linguistic papers couldn't be written and published in a similar fashion. is there no way to distill the private e-mail lists and informal conference discussions (transcripts) in a formal academic paper? seems like an open scientific/academic repository would benefit all disciplines, just as mailing lists and conference discussions do.

i'm really happy to hear of Arxiv's success (i only heard about the site a month or two ago). this type of open exchange of knowledge and information has huge advantages & benefits over the traditional scientific journals and other commercial publications.

initiatives as Arxiv, Wikipedia, E2, Google Books Search, MIT OpenCourseWare, etc. constitute a new form of cultural dissemination/interaction that has been made possible by the advent of the internet & world wide web. it's precisely because of such institutions that the internet is such a boon to humanity and will no doubt play a huge role in the cultural evolution of our society.

despite there still being many fundamental socioeconomic inequalities in our society barring the majority of the population from our academic institutions, Arxiv, Wikipedia, and other free online repositories, give those unable to afford high tuition costs & expensive textbooks access to the shared knowledge of our society. as long as you have internet access, you can be self-taught in almost any field of study you want. granted, it's still much preferable to be a university setting and have access to instructors, TAs, and other students studying the same subjects, but the web has empowered many people who simply don't have those privileges.

never in the history of humanity have individuals had such easy & direct access to so much information. it's almost mindblowing to think about how much finger most teenagers have at their fingertips when they sit down in front of a computer with internet access and a web browser installed. but that's all the more reason we need to guard and cherish this invaluable resource. net neutrality is a fundamental pillar to the success of the web as an open & democratic communication medium. and if we want to best take advantage of this huge technological boon, we should not only encourage the development of free information repositories, but also invest in public infrastructure to extend our public communications networks--such as municipal wi-fi and other technologies to make the internet a ubiquitous resource accessible by everyone.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (1)

argiedot (1035754) | about 6 years ago | (#25302381)

Oh and Pubmed. Lovely place, Pubmed.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (3, Insightful)

bjorniac (836863) | about 6 years ago | (#25301015)

Well, this is the problem of perception a lot of people have - that scientists are the anti-social ones. Scientists cannot work in a vacuum - we need communications with one another, interactions and a knowledge of other work to get on with our own work. You build off other people's work, use the things recently discovered to move your own work forward, so you need to have constant fast communications of the latest discoveries. Good physicists are always talking to one another, asking about work done, clarifying points and collaborating - just check out how many of those papers have multiple authors, often at separate institutions.

Compare this to a social science/humanity subject where sitting in your ivory tower is basically encouraged, with publications of great single-authored treatises seemingly the only output. They don't need to talk to one another and many are outright hostile to any discussion of their work.

Disclosure: I'm a physicist with an SO in the humanities. The differences in our experiences are incredible - people in my department like each other and work together.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (3, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 6 years ago | (#25299613)

My room was littered with papers printed off to read on the bus or at work.

A good reason to buy an Amazon Kindle/Apple iPhone/Sony Reader.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#25299769)

A PDF on an iPhone? That's gotta strain the eyes.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 6 years ago | (#25303479)

A good reason to buy an Amazon Kindle/Apple iPhone/Sony Reader.


I thought so too, so I bought the eReader from Sony. I deal with scientific papers alot, printing them and usually never reading them -- a pile here, a pile there.

The Sony product just doesn't cut it. Here's an unordered list of why:

  • The screen is TOO SMALL. Scientific papers are in small print on regular sized paper. The equations are really small. The "magnify" function tries to reformat the page when it uses larger text, and the result is usually unreadable. YMMV.
  • The data is unmanageable. The Sony lists all PDF documents by the embedded TITLE and AUTHOR tags, completely ignoring the file names, and without any way of changing them. Perhaps some Adobe product can. I uncompress them with pdftk and hand-edit the entries, when I can, and then recompress. Sony doesn't deal with uncompressed pdfs. I have a "folder" of papers I should be reading. One I really need to read is titled, according to the Sony, "PhysRevA_78_033810". I can't uncompress it to change it; there is a password on the file. Fortunately, it's the only Phys Rev A paper I have, the others are all JOExxxxx.
  • The index pages truncate titles when they are too long.
  • The contrast of the screen is low, especially under low light. In bright light, it's fine.
  • PDFs that have embedded tags for tables of contents, etc, are WONDERFUL. PDFs which don't have them show up as one big document and there is no way, other than bookmarking them, to skip from chapter to chapter. And bookmarks assume the "name" of the nearby text from somewhere on the page. I haven't found a way to change them.
  • The only way to get reading material onto the Sony is via the Windows EBook software. The device looks like a USB disk when plugged in, but simply copying the file doesn't get it indexed so it can be read.
  • The "folders" are a handy way of sorting books into collections, which is what the Sony calls them. Collections. Two problems. There is no way I've yet found to determine that all of the books on the reader have been sorted into a collection. A book that isn't in a collection has to be located by name or date of installation from the full list. Second, the order of books in a collection is based on a fixed order, not alphabetical, not date, but by position in the directory. That might be ok if you want it, but I want titles aphabetically so I can find them. For example, one "book" I downloaded came as a set of chapters, with the TITLEs set to the chapter number. When I copied them to the reader, they went in exactly opposite to alphabetical order (a wonderful side-effect of drag and drop on Windows, huh?), and I had to manually move them to correct order. The ebook software on the PC will DISPLAY them sorted in many different ways, but the reader itself is stuck in directory order.
  • Unrelated to the readability is a usability issue. The device will only charge off the mini-USB connection when it is connected directly to a PC USB port. I tried charging it from my travelling USB charger (that handles my phone and Palm just fine) and it DISCHARGED COMPLETELY. I think, based on observation and experiment, that the book was trying continuously to emumerate on the USB bus because it saw power (but no data ever), and ran the battery down doing that. It appears not to charge via USB unless it can get a legal, official power allocation, but it won't accept one from a hub, only a PC directly. Of course, I was travelling when that happened. There is a coax power plug, which Sony will sell you a special wallwart to charge through, but I found a simple USB to coax plug adapter and it charges that way fine. A POX on the Sony engineers that thought the USB must have an allocation before using power that appears on it. Assume power with no data is a CHARGER, for God's sake. Everyone else does.

So, no, don't go out to buy this if scientific papers and normal pdf's are your thing. It does text just beautifully (well, other than line formatting issues, which all text files have). The Sony Classics look great (at about one paragraph of the original book per page). I have the NETS translation of the Septuagint in pdf which does enlarge just fine, and has fully descriptive titles, that are just too long. The titles get cut off after the same intro text in each one -- the actual chapter name is lost.

The Sony will also not handle many of the pdfs I want from The scanned pdfs are beautiful on the PC screen, but most will not display at all on the Sony, and then only if they are B/W PDF, and THEN really really really slowly. And tiny. And they are not text, so they do not magnify (which only changes font sizes). They will rotate which makes them bigger, and almost readable.

Sorry for the brain dump, and sorry if you happen to love the Sony or Kindle or whatever. It depends on what you want it to do, and pdfs/scientific stuff just don't seem to be what it was intended for. Sony seems to have intended it for buying books from them in their format. If you want to buy one, I suggest highly that you go look at one to see if it does what you want.

And I'll also say, even with all the limits, I use it for a lot of things. I have a portable set of technical manuals for all kinds of things now. And things to read all the time.

Re:I Am Forever in Debt to Arxiv (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25305931)

As Obfuscant and Tubal-Cain have indicated, please let me know when a PDA display is more readable than laser-printed text on white paper.

i'm the first to comment (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299389)

i'll beat all the cynical punch savvy posters to the punch!

that comma is in the wrong place, i see 50,0000. I guess they need another article on properly writing numbers.

Re:i'm the first to comment (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#25299869)

>that comma is in the wrong place

Right. The correct number is 500,000 (not "50,0000"). [] actually says 497,649 as of a moment ago).

Comma is wrong, 0 right [Re:i'm the first to comme (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#25299901)

By the way, who moderated the post pointing out that the comma was in the wrong place as "offtopic"?? The proper moderation is "insightful", since at least half the commenters in the discussion following seem to think that the comma was right and the extra zero at the end wrong.

Re:Comma is wrong, 0 right [Re:i'm the first to co (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#25300275)

I thought it was the third zero that was wrong.

Re:Comma is wrong, 0 right [Re:i'm the first to co (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#25300511)

I thought it was the third zero that was wrong.

Looks like a lot of people thought the same thing.

In fact, though, it was the comma that was wrong, the zeros that were right.

Re:Comma is wrong, 0 right [Re:i'm the first to co (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25300615)


Re:Comma is wrong, 0 right [Re:i'm the first to co (1)

Bozzio (183974) | about 6 years ago | (#25300425)

Not insightful, but informative.
He's not showing any insight here. Instead, he's presenting information.

You suck. Now THAT's insight.

Re:i'm the first to comment (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | about 6 years ago | (#25302073)

duh, 50,0000 is "fifty hundred thousand"
geez, even a fourth grader knows that!

Re:i'm the first to comment (1)

fritsd (924429) | about 6 years ago | (#25306375)

I "lakh" your comment but I think you meant "fifty tenthousand"

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Also #1 for mathematicians! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299441)

It is also the number one resource for new math papers. Almost every mathematician puts their papers up on the arXiv way before they are published.

It's brilliant, and I love it!

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (4, Insightful)

Gromius (677157) | about 6 years ago | (#25299615)

Likewise, every particle physicist also puts his paper there before they are published (my three are all there). While it is great as a source of open information, one thing to bear in mind is that it is not peer reviewed, *anybody* can stick *anything* there. This is the major reason why we still unfortunately need paper journals. We need somebody to read it and say yes this follows basic scientific procedures and to the best of his/her knowledge there are no mistakes. Because theres a fairly low signal to noise on arXiv and whats there is not guaranteed at all to be of proper scientific merit and correctness.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299841)

one thing to bear in mind is that it is not peer reviewed, *anybody* can stick *anything* there.

This is true. However, they do have a group of moderators which recategorizes what they think are "merely mediocre, speculative, or erroneous articles". See

Of course, this is not the same as peer-review, but at least it's something.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 6 years ago | (#25299989)

They could implement some sort of karma, moderation, and meta-moderation system, which would be even better than peer review, right?

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25300229)

I can't see how that would be better. To properly review a paper you need to take a lot of time to really understand it. It's not like on slashdot, where you just skim through comments looking for funnies or insightful one-liners before you moderate..

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | about 6 years ago | (#25302123)

I mod you all, +1 to Ogre Slaying!
8bit theatre, D&D []

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

Gromius (677157) | about 6 years ago | (#25300883)

ah didnt realise they had moderators, thanks for the correction. So there is atleast one layer of quaility control to keep the crazies out. When I submitted my papers I just clicked upload and didnt realise that somebody reviewed it. Glad nobody objected to mine :)

arxiv is not objective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25301721)

my scientific paper must have been quite controversial whe submitted to arxiv some years ago - i got banned and blacklisted and are not able to publish anything more on arxiv ...

this paper included honest result of three years research on the topic of dimensionality of physical systems.

i am very disappointed by the arxiv moderators because of this !

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (2, Informative)

Aalst (943515) | about 6 years ago | (#25299969)

Allyn Jacskon (editor of Notices of the AMS) has published an interesting article about the impact of preprint servers on mathematics: []
In it he writes:

As an experiment, Greg Kuperberg looked at the publication status of the first 100 papers in theoretical high energy physics posted to the arXiv in December 1998. He found that 81 had appeared in journals, 11 were conference proceedings or invited lectures, and 2 were Ph.D. theses. "Thus at least 94 of the 100 have been blessed by some form of peer review," he concludes.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (3, Interesting)

Gromius (677157) | about 6 years ago | (#25300751)

But that was 1998 where a) the general population was just getting online and b) pretty much only scientists knew about arXiv. There is a lot of peer reviewed stuff on there (every paper submitted to a journal tends to be submitted) but as more less mainstream scientists have access, you regretably get more noise. Looking at Oct 2007 for hep-th and assuming that it would be mentioned in the summary is its published or going to be published (and trust me people mention this...), out of the first 25, 12 are published in a journal and or conference proceedings. So less than 50% were blessed by some form of peer review. And its the other 50% tend to be the most sensational :)

Note I still think its very valuable for to have a place where non-peer reviewed material can be uploaded as well as peer reviewed but if its not peer-reviewed its a lot more likely to be incorrect somehow and the reader needs to be aware of that.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25301219)

But that was 1998 where a) the general population was just getting online and b) pretty much only scientists knew about arXiv.

These are valid objections, I agree.

Looking at Oct 2007 for hep-th and assuming that it would be mentioned in the summary is its published or going to be published (and trust me people mention this...), out of the first 25, 12 are published in a journal and or conference proceedings. So less than 50% were blessed by some form of peer review.

As a comparison, I did the same thing in my own field of mathematics. I looked at the first 25 articles uploaded to arXiv in October '07. As for your field, only 12 were either published or were PhD theses.

But, FWIW, from my quick look at them, there were no obious nonsense articles.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 6 years ago | (#25303681)

But, FWIW, from my quick look at them, there were no obious nonsense articles.

The best nonsense articles are those that require more than a quick look to determine they are nonsense. In any joke, the punchline has to come at the end, not the beginning.

The problem is when someone who is not an expert in the field comes to a site with unreviewed articles. He can't determine in a quick look what is bogus and what isn't. If you are trying to learn about something new, unreviewed papers are a crapshoot.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 6 years ago | (#25305069)

This isn't a bug, it's a feature.

If people are looking for quality-filtered articles, they should restrict their search to something other than just "everything in arXiv". If they don't, and take everything in there as gospel, then they're fools and deserve what they get.

ArXiv doesn't put itself out there as a peer-reviewed source; it's pretty up-front about not doing that, in fact. There's a place for peer-reviewed, high-quality sources, but there's also a demand for something else: access to information. Sometimes you don't care whether everything in a database has been peer-reviewed, and if the cost is paying $15 per item (which is what it costs to get something from a lot of peer-reviewed journals), then it's not worth it. With traditional journals you don't have a choice; you're stuck paying regardless, even if you know the paper you want and don't care about their "value added." With papers in a repository like arXiv, there's still a place for journals and various kinds of peer review, but all the papers -- even the un-reviewed ones -- are also accessible if you want to just browse the repository.

Paper must die (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | about 6 years ago | (#25300219)

But note that there is no impediment in order to publish just-online peer reviewed journals... maybe that's the future or arXiv. Paper must die, it just creates silly troubles... we end needing, for example, sites like JSTOR [] in order to access out of print numbers or foreign non imported titles.

Re:Paper must die (3, Insightful)

Gromius (677157) | about 6 years ago | (#25300617)

Oh exactly. I think the future is a peer reviewed online journal. I think arXiv provides a very valuable service as is for the distribution of knowledge. Right now it has a copy of basically every particle physics paper published and I assume this is true for some other fields too. Many times I grab the arXiv copy over the journal copy as its more convient. So all the journal does is basically place a peer reviewed stamp of approval on the online arXiv paper and this could easily be replaced with a online journal in the future.

I am strongly against journal sub fees as I believe which that the knowledge contained in scientific papers (doubly so for public funded ones) should be availible to all and not only accessable to people willing to pay the high cost of a journal subscription fee. CERN is pushing open journals for that very reason and that may evolve into a respected online peer reviewed journal which will compliment arXiv nicely.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (2, Informative)

Dronak (994169) | about 6 years ago | (#25300609)

it is not peer reviewed, *anybody* can stick *anything* there.

I think they've changed things a little bit over time. It does seem like anyone is able to register an account, which would allow them to start submitting papers. But looking at the help pages, I see this on an endorsement system: "Effective January 17, 2004, began requiring some users to be endorsed by another user before submitting their first paper to a category or subject class." They note that this isn't peer review, but it "will verify that arXiv contributors belong [to] the scientific community". They also moderate submissions, and the help page on this topic says: "arXiv reserves the right to reject or reclassify any submission." While also not real peer-review, it "helps to ensure that arXiv content is relevant to current research".

Perhaps some areas are better than others about self-moderating/reviewing submissions. My experience with the astro-ph archive, which I've read for many years, is that most of it is generally good material, often pre-prints of papers that will appear in peer-reviewed journals or conference proceedings. Not all of it is like that of course, but I think there's a lot more signal than noise in the astro-ph section at least. Just my opinion.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

Gromius (677157) | about 6 years ago | (#25306621)

Yes I think I was a little harsh on the low signal to noise comment. I recant that poor phrasing of words now. Its because mostly in recent years I've seen the 'crazy' papers pointed out to me in arXiv than the large body of well regarded scientific works that I have this slightly unfair opinion. I still stand by my main point that on arXiv the papers are not peer reviewed (and this is in my opinion a good thing) so the reader should be aware that the conclusions should not a prior a be held to the same level of scientific fact as a peer reviewed paper.

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 years ago | (#25301909)

"This is the major reason why we still unfortunately need paper journals. We need somebody to read it and say yes this follows basic scientific procedures and to the best of his/her knowledge there are no mistakes."

Darwin did not do any of this with the origin of the species and many scientific ideas from the past came out in lay/not overseen books for the reader. The fact that ideas are peer reviewed or not is quite irrelevant to it's truth. In fact peer review is flawed now knowing what we know about human reasoning, and the fact that reasoning is not as the enlightenment had us believe.

Most scientists don't even have a clue what has been discovered in the neurological sciences over the last 30 years and how it undermines the enlightenment's view of reason and enlightenment's view of science and education. Most people still operate under the enlightenment's false view of reason.

The enlightenment fallacy:

(quick version) []

Longer version: []

Re:Also #1 for mathematicians! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 years ago | (#25306379)

What makes it a fallacy? The obvious problem with the claim above is that people aren't trained to reason and even if they are, they need time (which may take years) to reason.

This will be horrible for arXiv (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299479)

Their collision rates will go through the roof unless they have accident forgivness.

50,0000? (1)

spud603 (832173) | about 6 years ago | (#25299529)

is that a typo for 50,000 or 500,000?

Re:50,0000? (5, Funny)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 6 years ago | (#25299567)

It's half-a-million. CmdrTaco doesn't deal with such large numbers very often.

Re:50,0000? (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | about 6 years ago | (#25299931)

I guess he couldn't find the 2,5000 people to count on fingers and toes...

Re:50,0000? (1)

Pervaricator General (1364535) | about 6 years ago | (#25300077)

In a representative population of nudists, he'd only need 2,4415 people

Re:50,0000? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 years ago | (#25300221)

There are other User ID's besides your you know.

Re:50,0000? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 6 years ago | (#25305037)

Understandable. You try eat that many tacos.

Re:50,0000? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 6 years ago | (#25299609)

Presumably 50,000 math papers. The remainder are a large but poorly numerically defined set of "new math" papers.

Re:50,0000? (2, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#25299631)

Well, according to TFsite, "3 Oct 2008: arXiv passes half-million article milestone", so that would be 5 * 10^5.

Re:50,0000? (1)

evilbessie (873633) | about 6 years ago | (#25303185)

No that would really be .5 * 10^6 (it's half a million, not 5 hundred thousands.)

Re:50,0000? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#25304579)

Nicely caught. I stand corrected ;)

Re:50,0000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299771)

It's not a typo. They just use a myriad-based number system.

Vegeta! (1)

Jogar the Barbarian (5830) | about 6 years ago | (#25299941)

Vegeta! What does the arXiv say about their number of articles?

It's fifty ten THOUSAAAAAND!!!

Re:50,0000? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 6 years ago | (#25300729)

Actually, in Chinese you sometimes see the comma separator between groups of four digits. In Chinese there is a word for 10,000 (pronounced mun in Cantonese) which is a more "natural" unit for many Chinese speakers than thousands, so this number (500,000) would be spoken as ng-sup mun (fifty ten-thousands), and so written in figures 50,0000.

But the Western style of breaking into three digit groups is more common these days.

According to Wikipedia [] this is also seen in Japan, and India has a rather eccentric 3,2,2 pattern (ten million = 1,00,00,000), so in India this might be 5,00,000.

There are interesting differences (5, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 6 years ago | (#25299587)

Here are some in fields I follow :

In astrophysics, almost all new papers appear first in Arxiv.

In planetary physics, some but by no means all papers appear in Arxiv.

In geophysics, basically no papers appear in Arxiv.

I don't know why there are these differences, but there it is.

Re:There are interesting differences (4, Informative)

16384 (21672) | about 6 years ago | (#25299687)

Condensed matter physics and high energy physics also have a large presence on Arxiv. As you say, it depends largely on which branch of physics you deal with.

Re:There are interesting differences (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#25299695)

Where do we go for the peer-reviewed Creation Science papers?

Re:There are interesting differences (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299787)

Where do we go for the peer-reviewed Creation Science papers?

Answers in Genesis has a creation 'science' journal here [] .

Unix comes with all of them (1)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | about 6 years ago | (#25299791)

cat /dev/null

Re:Unix comes with all of them (1)

imbaczek (690596) | about 6 years ago | (#25299859)


It was written: cat /dev/random

Re:Unix comes with all of them (1)

Pervaricator General (1364535) | about 6 years ago | (#25302925)


It's science (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299589)

If it's a science publication, should it have hit a kilometer-stone instead of a milestone?

Re:It's science (1)

RickL (64901) | about 6 years ago | (#25300335)

Both units should be metric. I propose the kilometer-kilogram--which is about .1 milestones.

Re:It's science (0, Redundant)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 6 years ago | (#25301377)

The expression "milestone" is derived from the practice of placing a stone every mile that indicated how many miles it was from the place where the road started. So "stone" in this expression is not referring to a unit of any kind.

Re:It's science (1)

RegularFry (137639) | about 6 years ago | (#25303131)

Yes, but that's precisely three kiloFarnsworthies less funny.

Re:It's science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25305045)

Obviously not. It would've hit 1.6 kilometer-stone by now. That's number isn't round.

500,000+ articles (5, Funny)

MosesJones (55544) | about 6 years ago | (#25299619)

But the question we are all asking ourselves is

Who got the first post?

The answer is Exact Black String Solutions in Three Dimensions [] by James H. Horne and Gary T. Horowitz

Slightly better than the "Fkrst Pist" attempts on Slashdot!

How significant (2, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | about 6 years ago | (#25299621)

Because quantity == quality...

Re:How significant (1)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | about 6 years ago | (#25299863)

Considering they were started in 1991 and have now only gotten to 500,000, this is significant.

Re:How significant (1)

Spatial (1235392) | about 6 years ago | (#25299959)

int quality = 0;
int quantity = 0;

if (quality == quantity)
{cout "Yes it does. :)";}

Like anything else: quantity and ease of access (4, Insightful)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | about 6 years ago | (#25300733)

Because quantity == quality...

I realize that you were being snarky, but you accidentally hit on a corner of the truth. The real value of the ArXiV is indeed its quantity of results, mixed with the ease of access. The traditional journals typically restrict access to their output -- unless you are at a subscribing institution, it costs $15-$50 to access a single article from a single traditional scientific journal (depending on publisher). At professional institutes and universities, which typically have online subscriptions to journals, it is possible to surf through the Literature (depending on field, back about 10-15 years) and find recent relevant knowledge extremely quickly. If you aren't at an institution that subscribes, you're SOL. ArXiV fixes that - if you publish your article both in a journal and in the ArXiV, most indexing services will notice that it is the same, and suddenly everyone on the planet has unrestricted access. That's a no-brainer for an author.

The way that professional scientists (like me -- I am a solar astrophysicist) access the Literature has changed drastically in the last ten years. My office has about 12 linear feet of Xeroxed journal articles in three-ring binders, but I practically never refer to them. It's far faster and more convenient to access (say) the entire archives of Astrophysical Journal online than to go "grep dead trees" at the library. Citation indices such as ADS (Google for adsabs) hyperlink both references and citations, so that I can search through 50 articles relevant to a topic in less time than it used to take to look up one article and Xerox it for reading outside the library.

Old-style pay-to-read journals get in the way of that rapid access - for example, I have rarely cited articles in Astronomy and Astrophysics, because it's a pain in my ass to download them. Until recently, my institute didn't subscribe, so I had to either pay on a per-article basis (which adds up if you are skimming for the one relevant article in a dozen possibilities), or travel to the local university to get the paper I wanted. This is a very common problem: even large universities generally don't subscribe to all the relevant journals in a given field, because web subscriptions cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per year per journal!

For everyone not fortunate enough to have a computer account at a large institute that can actually afford to subscribe to dozens of journals, ArXiV is the best way to access a large volume of the literature. Hence, articles posted to the ArXiV get cited more. That makes authors want to post to the ArXiV as a matter of course. It's a virtuous circle.

So, er, yes, quantity is quality in this case -- ArXiV was canny and/or lucky enough to get a critical mass of good work, and the quantity is the driving force that keeps the whole thing going.

Re:Like anything else: quantity and ease of access (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | about 6 years ago | (#25301159)

Well played sir.

yeah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299627)

Where are my pants? The protons got them.

Hopefully this helps... (3, Insightful)

ruin20 (1242396) | about 6 years ago | (#25299643)

...convince the scientific journal community that they should open their standards and let articles published in their journals to be republished by the author else where.

I'm not going to pretend 50,000 is a lot, but the fact it's 50,000 and growing should make them worry. I hope the celebration of this milestone will help accelerate it's growth so we see 100,000 sooner than later. The quicker pay-for-access science disappears the better for all of us.

Re:Hopefully this helps... (2, Informative)

Hikaru79 (832891) | about 6 years ago | (#25299823)

The summary misplaced a comma. The actual total is 500,000 not 50,000.

Re:Hopefully this helps... (0, Redundant)

lbgator (1208974) | about 6 years ago | (#25300061)


Re:Hopefully this helps... (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | about 6 years ago | (#25301361)

Many journals do let the authors publish elsewhere, as a matter of course. (Astrophysical Journal is one.) Others can be strong-armed. The copyright agreement they send is not just a formality, it is the actual terms under which the authors license the work to the journal. I routinely write in that I retain a non-exclusive right to re-publish. Haven't had problems with that yet.

What about peer-review? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25299667)

It seems that a lot of people follow their field by reading pre-prints posted to arXiv. Isn't this kind of dangerous, considering the lack of peer-review? Or is there no problem because people only actually _use_ the results after they have been published in a proper journal?

I've seen that they've started a system where you need an endorsement from another arXiv author to post a pre-print, but is an endorsement enough, considering the likely fact that endorsers don't really check the paper properly?

Re:What about peer-review? (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 years ago | (#25300009)

"It seems that a lot of people follow their field by reading pre-prints posted to arXiv. Isn't this kind of dangerous, considering the lack of peer-review?"

Peer review is great for some things, but just ask Galileo how 'peer review' worked for him. 7 years in a prison as a part of the inquisition. I do realize, that today scientific breakthroughs are treated a little differently today, unless you're talking about Genetic Engineering, which has it's own set of inquisition style prohibitions.

but yeah even otherwise brilliant scientists can be wrong, and it can mislead other scientists. however, scientists generally are people who can think for themselves, they tend to be smart enough. so I'm not worried about the use of this site, except for how the blogosphere, the main stream media, and politicians will use it.

i can imagine dirty corrupt politicians 'releasing' articles that are full of stupid claims just to get headlines to tilt the populous in favor of their bill so they call their congressmen in support of a horrible law. pseudo-science is a favorite tool of politicians, so i imagine a non peer reviewed site that is a repository if scientific knowledge will be abused.

Re:What about peer-review? (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#25300057)

Peer review is great for some things, but just ask Galileo how 'peer review' worked for him. 7 years in a prison as a part of the inquisition. I do realize, that today scientific breakthroughs are treate

Just a note, Galileo's trial by the inquisition was not a problem of peer reviewing: it wasn't that he couldn't get his work published; it was what happened after it was published.

Well done! (1)

paniq (833972) | about 6 years ago | (#25299681)

Congralculations on that SCIgen benchmark!

Fifty ten-thousand? (2, Funny)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | about 6 years ago | (#25300031)

Wow, that's a lot of ten-thousands of papers!

Re:Fifty ten-thousand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25300171)

No that's 50 kajillion, which is alot...I think. ;)

Re:Fifty ten-thousand? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25300467)

Either that, or it's Chinese/Japanese (they group digits in sets of 4 rather than 3 like we do, so the number 500,000 would literally be spoken as "fifty ten-thousand").

You jest, but... (1)

ClayJar (126217) | about 6 years ago | (#25300525)

You jest, but if what very, very little I understand of Japanese is in order... Well, maybe our great Taco has merely been watching too much anime.

In Japanese, ten-thousand is "man" (pronounced with an "a" somewhat like the "a" in "father": "mahn"). What we would call "five hundred thousand" would instead be called "go-jyu man" ("go" = "five", "jyu" = "tens", and "man" = "ten-thousands": "five tens, ten-thousands"). So, basically, "fifty ten-thousands" would be a fairly accurate English representation of Japanese-style numbering.

Of course, my Japanese is only slightly better than my Lisp, so don't put this in Wikipedia or anything. ;)

In other news... (3, Interesting)

bakuun (976228) | about 6 years ago | (#25300481)

PubMed Central, the central repository for open access Life Sciences research articles, is pushing on 1.3 million articles. These repositories is a wet dream of text mining researchers.

Archive this (1)

freeasinrealale (928218) | about 6 years ago | (#25301333)

It is with great joy that I watch those who feel entitled to withhold knowledge in order to benefit their own avaricious needs by controlling the dissemination of popular art and science (starting with the Church to todays corporate greedy) - lose their hold on said resources faster than you can say Wall Street Meltdown. Kudos to the Internet and all those who espouse the FREE exchange of ideas.

The arXiv is great, but..... (2, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | about 6 years ago | (#25301381)

We really need to begin compiling our scientific knowledge into a hyperlinked wiki/database of sorts.

Wikipedia's great for basic stuff, though there's still gobs of information (much of which is in the public domain) that's inexplicably confined to books and journals.

Hyperlinks (and extended data sets) should be *standard* for all journal articles these days, given that we have the technology to do so. There's no reason that the arXiv needs to remain as a repository for dead-tree PDFs.

Re:The arXiv is great, but..... (2, Informative)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | about 6 years ago | (#25302001)

At some level, hyperlinks (at least) are standard. They're called "references" and were the closest thing to a hyperlink before the intertubes were invented. Several free services (ADS is one: [] have spiders that walk the literature and create genuine URL-style links between articles. ArXiV is advancing custom along that path, by making many journal articles available for linking to anyone free of charge.

Extended data sets are coming. Astrophysical Journal allows online publication of movies and data to support articles, and I imagine that ArXiV will one day too. (Though they don't have the server space to support many of the data sets that are written about in those PDFs).

Meanwhile, most^H^H^H^Hmany scientific authors are happy to give you their original data -- just write to them and ask for it!

Not a search engine. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25301615)

To clarify, arxiv is a document repository (you submit your papers there). If you want a scientific papers search engine, use citeseer [] .

Note that citeseer also indexes arxiv documents :)

Is there peer review? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | about 6 years ago | (#25303733)

If I publish a paper to arXiv, is it peer reviewed before being posted, or is it just accepted? Just curious

Re:Is there peer review? (2, Informative)

plusungood (805640) | about 6 years ago | (#25304049)

It is NOT peer reviewed, but around half the papers eventually get accepted in a journal or a conference proceeding. It doesn't only contains articles, but also overviews, books and introductions.

XXX.LANL.GOV (2, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 6 years ago | (#25304531)

was the original .. with the skull/crossbones icon. Now its all too easy and happy looking.

Economics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25305853)

Does something like this excist for the social sciences? I'm particularly looking for Economics articles.

Forbidden knowledge (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#25305855)

You know only terrorists need scientific information.

Double publishing question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25306681)

I thought most commercial journals restrict the author's right to post their papers in other formal contexts. How does it work that you can submit an article to arXiv and then also to a commercial, peer-reviewed journal without encountering any conflicts?

(I did not find any information addressing this question at

I did find this quote at which suggests that the arXiv repository represent articles prior to submission to a commerical journal, can someone enlighten me?

"The double-blind approach is predicated on a culture in which manuscripts-in-progress are kept secret. This is true for the most part in the life sciences. But some physical sciences, such as high-energy physics, share preprints extensively through arXiv, an online repository. Thus, double-blind peer review is at odds with another 'force for good' in the academic world: the open sharing of information. The PRC survey found that highly competitive fields (such as neuroscience) or those with larger commercial or applied interests (such as materials science and chemical engineering) were the most enthusiastic about double-blinding, whereas fields with more of a tradition for openness (astronomy and mathematics) were decidedly less supportive."

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