Commercial? No
Type of site Science
Available language(s) English
Owner Cornell University Library
Created by Paul Ginsparg
Launched 1991
Alexa rank increase 15,204 (October 2011)[1]
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, astronomy, computer science, quantitative biology, statistics, and quantitative finance which can be accessed via the world wide web. In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are self-archived on the arXiv. On 3 October 2008, passed the half-million article milestone, with roughly five thousand new e-prints added every month.[2] The preprint archive turned 20 years old on 14 August 2011.[3]



The arXiv was originally developed by Paul Ginsparg, in part to supersede a multinational email distribution list for preprints that had been operated manually by Joanne Cohn for about two years. It 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.[4] 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 and called the LANL preprint archive. Its original domain name was It is now hosted and operated by Cornell University,[5] with 14 mirrors around the world.[6] It changed its name and address to in 1999 for greater flexibility.

Its existence was one of the precipitating factors that led to the current movement in scientific publishing, known as open access. 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 Library. In 2010, Cornell has sought to broaden the financial funding of the project by asking institutions to make annual voluntary contributions based on the amount of downloading utilization by each institution. Annual donations will vary in size between $2,300 to $4,000, based on each institution’s usage. As of February 16, 2010, 27 institutions have pledged support on this basis.[7] The annual budget for arXiv is $400,000 for 2010.[7][8]

It has been announced that, beginning in September 2011, Cornell will completely take responsibility for the operation of the project, without the further participation of Ginsparg, who is quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying it "was supposed to be a three-hour tour, not a life sentence". [9]

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[10] 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[who?], is not considered a hindrance to those who use the arXiv.[says who?] Many authors exercise care in what they post.[citation needed] 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 an outline of a 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."[11]

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".[12] The arXiv generally re-classifies these works, e.g. in "General mathematics", rather than deleting them.[13]

Submission formats

Papers can be submitted in any of several formats, including LaTeX, PDF printed from a word processor other than TeX or LaTeX. 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 is too large. arXiv now allows one to store and modify an incomplete submission, and only finalize the submission when ready. The time stamp on the article is set when the submission is finalized.


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.[14] 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.[15] Finally, researchers can select sub-fields and receive daily e-mailings or RSS feeds of all submissions in them.


Files on arXiv can have a number of different copyright statuses:[16]

  1. Some are public domain, in which case they will have a statement saying so.
  2. Some are available under either the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Share alike license or the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-non-commercial-Share Alike license.
  3. Some are copyright to the publisher, but the author has the right to distribute them and has given arXiv a non-exclusive irrevocable license to distribute them.
  4. Most are copyright to the author, and arXiv has only a non-exclusive irrevocable license to distribute them.

See also


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  2. ^ Online Scientific Repository Hits Milestone - With 500,000 Articles, arXiv Established as Vital Library Resource
  3. ^ Ginsparg, Paul (2011). "It was twenty years ago today ..". arXiv:1108.2700 [cs.DL]. 
  4. ^ Paul Ginsparg "The global-village pioneers" Physics World 1 October 2008
  5. ^ Butler, Declan (2001-07-05). "Los Alamos Loses Physics Archive as Preprint Pioneer Heads East". Nature 412 (6842): 3–4. doi:10.1038/35083708. PMID 11452262. 
  6. ^ "Mirror sites and other servers". arXiv. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  7. ^ a b Landgraf, Greg (2010-02-17). "Cornell Seeks Sustainable arXiv Support". American Libraries. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  8. ^ "arXiv Support". Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Fischman, Joah (August 10, 2011). "The First Free Research-Sharing Site, arXiv, Turns 20 With an Uncertain Future". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ Computing Research Repository Subject Areas and Moderators; Mathematics categories; Statistics archive; Quantitative Biology archive; Physics archive
  11. ^ Nadejda Lobastova and Michael Hirst, "Maths genius living in poverty", Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 2006
  12. ^ Jackson, Allyn (2002). "From Preprints to E-prints: The Rise of Electronic Preprint Servers in Mathematics" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society 49 (1): 23–32. 
  13. ^ Front: (In)frequently asked questions
  14. ^ Front for the arXiv
  15. ^ eprintweb
  16. ^ arXiv License Information


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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