Evaluation of preprint/postprint servers

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 12:33:35 -0500

On Mon, 11 Dec 2000, Greg Kuperberg wrote (in part; the subject line was
Re: The preprint is the postprint):

GK> However, it is not quite true that the arXiv is completely unfiltered.
GK> Rather, the system has the absolute minimum of filtering needed for
GK> self-sustaining quality.


GK> So what kind of filtering is there? Each category has moderators, and
GK> I am one of about 30 in the mathematics section. We have a few hours
GK> to review submissions. If we do nothing they are automatically
GK> posted. We are not allowed to censor any remotely relevant submission,
GK> no matter how wrong or trivial it appears to be, nor do we want to.
GK> However, we can reclassify a submission if it is off-topic. We can
GK> reject a submission if we can't recognize it as research at all, for
GK> example if it is pornography or a non-mathematical autobiography. We
GK> can reject a submission if it has the wrong form, for example if it is
GK> only an abstract or an unannotated bibliography or unannotated data.
GK> And we can intervene against spam, e.g. an author who divides one
GK> self-contained manuscript into 100 submissions.
GK> Most of the moderating decisions reclassify legitimate submissions
GK> with strange classifications or excessive cross-listings.


GK> The system is similar to the conventions for informal seminars in the
GK> non-electronic world. Anyone can attend, except for people who are so
GK> clueless that they would disrupt the talks.

I found this information from Greg Kuperberg to be *very* interesting.

So, should one criterion for the evaluation of the quality of preprint/
postprint servers be the existence of (as a minimum) a "filtering system"
analogous to the one described by Greg?

I'm assuming that, at present, the arXiv network of servers provides one
appropriate "gold standard" against which other preprint/postprint servers
should be compared. I'm also assuming that preprint/postprint servers
will continue to provide one valuable way (but not the *only* way!) to
free the peer-reviewed research literature.

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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