Output – RIOJA – Final Report: researchers’ views

Title: RIOJA (Repository Interface to Journal Archives) Final Report

Page: 5 (summary), p11 (outputs and results1: overview)
Summary of contents:

p5 “The survey confirmed the everyday importance of the arXiv repository in the working lives of astrophysics researchers. Moreover, the project found that researchers are, in general (and with very little variation between those with different first languages, career lengths and other demographics), sympathetic to the overlay model. Their main concerns about the model were that the long-term accessibility of the research material should be guaranteed – surprising, perhaps, in such a fast-moving, repository-dependent discipline – and that the process of quality certification should be robust. Researchers’ career concerns also
informed their reaction to the overlay model, and it was clear that to attract submissions, an arXiv-overlay journal would need to be able to demonstrate academic acceptability and a substantial readership. All of these concerns are generic issues, which would be faced by any new journal whether or not overlaid on repository-housed content.”

p11 “The supporting survey gave a snapshot of the working practices and attitudes of one, very repository-orientated, research community, based on 683 responses from Astrophysicists. The results confirmed the importance of arXiv to Astrophysics researchers. 93% deposit papers into arXiv; 53% access arXiv daily, and another 24% do so weekly; and after arXiv discovery, only 7% always prefer to seek the final published version of a paper. arXiv use is not to the exclusion of other resources: 65% may use journal Web sites to follow up interesting titles/abstracts, alongside arXiv which is used by 610 (89%) for this purpose. 97% of the respondents publish in refereed journals, at an average of 6.5 papers per researcher per year, in titles whose high impact factor, perceived quality, and updates throughout the refereeing process they consider to be important. They were comfortable with the overlay model: 53% were very supportive, and 35% interested; 80% would referee for an overlay journal; 26% were willing to serve in Editorial capacity; 33% would submit papers without hesitation. Their concerns about a hypothetical arXiv-overlay journal were the quality of the accepted papers, the community standing for the title, the robustness of long-term archiving arrangements, and the quality and speed of of the peer review process: these are concerns which one might imagine could easily apply to any academic journal, regardless of publishing model.”

Comments:

reflection: it is unclear how many papers go into arxiv without an intended journal? it seems that part of the premise of the way this is pitched is that submission to arXiv in itself makes something worth reading… but the feedback strongly suggests that peer review/ journal quality is key. This may indicate there’s a very strong self – moderation going on – researchers can rely on arXiv copies because ‘no-one’ puts anything in that can’t make the grade… comments elsewhere indicate that papers being put into arXiv are ‘endorsed’ by exisiting ‘senior’ contributors, but judging by these results this ‘endorsement’ is only serving as a stop gap prior to formal peer review.

This survey data directly informs our understanding of one community of researchers around one repository. The repository, arXiv, and community, astrophysics, have been at the forefront of the use of repositories to support scholarly communications. The project’s findings indicate that any new form (or brand) of publication still needs to demonstrate some form of impact factor and stringent quality control process if it is to sucessfully engage researchers.

Date Released: September 2008

URI for Output: http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/12562/1/12562.pdf

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