Call for participation aimed at the further promotion of the preprint concept

Paul Ginsparg, Rick Luce, Herbert Van de Sompel - Los Alamos National Laboratory - April 1999


The purpose of this call is the mobilization of a core group to work towards achieving a universal service for non peer-reviewed scholarly literature. We think that important steps in such a direction can be taken by identifying or creating technologies and frameworks that stimulate:


In certain areas of scholarly activity, electronic preprint archives have become an established medium to communicate non peer-reviewed results of ongoing research. The trend began in high energy phyics in 1991 and since then, the centralized xxx preprint archive has become a global repository for research in physics. xxx has also incoporated mathematics, non-linear sciences and computer science. NCSTRL is a similar initiative, providing a point of access for technical reports in computer sciences, that are either submitted to the CoRR part of xxx or to decentral departmental archives that cooperate in the initiative. Archives in the NCSTRL initiative share the Dienst protocol, which enables the creation of library-like services that support searching and browsing the archive. Along the same lines, the RePEc initiative in economics provides authors with the option to submit working papers to the central EconWPA archive at Washington University or to a departmental archive, which supports an agreed upon protocol. This so called Guildford protocol guarantees interoperability between the RePEc archives and has enabled the creation of a variety of end-user services. Recently, NIH has expressed a strong interest in the establishment of a preprint initiative for biology. Slowly, the information industry is beginning to understand the potential of the preprint concept, regarding it either as an opportunity for collaborations, as a challenge or as a threat.

All the preprint initiatives share the same goal, which is to optimize scholarly communication by overcoming the barriers - financial, legal, ... - which the traditional framework has established. Still, some important barriers remain in place and action is required to promote the preprint concept beyond its current scope:

These considerations - to which you can easily add numerous others - have urged us to initiate this call. Although we understand the dimensions of the problem, we propose a pragmatic approach, considering that such a strategy can sometimes lead to practical and convincing results.

The following are the action lines we are currently considering, and which are obviously open to discussion:

In order to achieve this, we call upon you to contribute to the UPS initiative in one or more of the following ways:

timing action
now join the action line by replying to this call

participate in a discussion group to help establish the agenda for a technical meeting to be held in the very near future

May 99 participate in the technical meeting to choose protocols and design for the prototype framework
May 99 - cooperate in the creation of the initial prototype
July 99 co-author a paper on the initiative
July 99 co-author a project proposal aimed at the promotion and the creation of a global universal service for non peer-reviewed scholarly literatureature
July 99 - promote the prototype framework, identify its shortcomings to help formulate the second generation design