As SocArXiv approaches 5000 papers (there are 4895 at this moment), here is a snapshot of the disciplines represented on our server:
Sociology accounts for one-third of our papers. The original steering committee group consisted of sociologists and library leaders, and much of our outreach was in sociology, so that is not surprising. In addition, there are other paper servers active in other areas. Nevertheless, we are happy to have this diversity, and welcome papers from all the fields we cover — social sciences, arts and humanities, education, and law.
Within the field of sociology, we have a wide representation across subfields. Here note we use the categories generated by the American Sociological Association’s list of sections:
The Center for Open Science has added withdrawal functionality to its preprint service platform. We are glad to have this capacity, but we will not be permitting the withdrawal of papers in routine cases. Withdrawing is a convenient option if an author makes an error in the submission process, for example accidentally submitting the wrong version; if a paper has not yet been approved, we are happy to accommodate such requests. However, if a paper has already been accepted, and thus entered the scholarly record, we will follow the policy below.
Unfortunately, authors now see a large “Withdraw Paper” button on the page where they edit their paper entries. We are working with COS to change how this option is presented to authors, and also to make users aware of our policy. Posting a paper on SocArXiv is easy, which brings great benefit to the thousands of people who have shared their work. However, authors should be aware that posting papers is generally nonreversible. We offer this policy and its explanation to help further this understanding.
SocArXiv Withdrawal Policy
May 25, 2019
In case of revision, the current version will be found here.
The Center for Open Science (COS), which hosts SocArXiv, has enabled the withdrawal of papers from its paper services. Authors who wish to withdraw their papers may request a withdrawal from the SocArXiv moderators, according to the terms of this policy.
Permission for withdrawal will only be granted in the very rare circumstance in which we have a legal obligation to remove a paper, such as if it contains private personal information or it is subject to a substantiated copyright claim. In cases where a paper is withdrawn, it will be replaced by a “tombstone” page (here is an example), which includes the original paper’s metadata (author, title, abstract, DOI, etc.), and the reason for withdrawal. After that point, the paper will be locked to further modification.
If authors wish to withdraw papers for other reasons — for example, if they are not confident of the findings or otherwise no longer endorse the paper — they should post a new “version” of the paper that is a single page announcing the withdrawal. They may, for example, request that readers do not further cite, use, or distribute previous versions (which will remain available under the list of previous versions). Instructions on how to post a new version are available here; we are happy to help authors do this.
This policy is very similar to the retraction of an article by an academic journal, which only rarely involves removal of access to the original paper, instead generally relying on a notification of retraction in its place.
Why doesn’t SocArXiv let authors decide when to withdraw a paper?
Papers on SocArXiv are part of the scholarly record. Upon being posted, they are given a Digital Object Identifier (DOIs), and a persistent URL from COS. The link is automatically tweeted by our announcement account, and the system also generates a citation reference. The document is immediately citable and retrievable by human or machine agents. In short, posting a paper on SocArXiv is a research event that cannot be undone by deleting the document. Preserving the scholarly record is our obligation to the scholarly community.
Authors who post papers on SocArXiv are notified, at the final point of submission, that they will be “unable to delete the preprint file, but [they] can update or modify it.” Authors also are required to confirm that all contributors have agreed to share the paper, and that they have the right to share it. (All co-authors have the same rights to distribute a copyrighted work, unless a subsequent agreement has intervened, so an objection to the posting by a co-author is not the basis for removal.)
The Internet has made it possible to distribute work without relinquishing the original digital file, which makes it possible to delete the version readers access — a privilege that was not available when research was distributed in printed form. However, the Internet has also made it difficult or impossible to remove all traces or copies of a digital document. This is a challenging environment for authors.
We are sympathetic to the desire of some authors to remove copies of their earlier work from circulation, for a variety of reasons, and we appreciate that our policy may cause frustration. We hope authors will carefully consider it before they post their work.
Our policy is very similar to that employed by the older and more established preprint servers, arxiv and bioRxiv.
Can I remove an article that has already posted on bioRxiv?
No. Manuscripts posted on bioRxiv receive DOI’s and thus are citable and part of the scientific record. They are indexed by services such as Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, and Crossref, creating a permanent digital presence independent of bioRxiv records. Consequently, bioRxiv’s policy is that papers cannot be removed. Authors may, however, have their article marked as “Withdrawn” if they no longer stand by their findings/conclusions or acknowledge fundamental errors in the article. In these cases, a statement explaining the reason for the withdrawal is posted on the bioRxiv article page to which the DOI defaults; the original article is still accessible via the article history tab. In extremely rare, exceptional cases, papers are removed for legal reasons.
At this writing, just 32 out of 50,401 preprints on bioRxiv have been withdrawn, a rate of 6 per 10,000.
Articles that have been announced and made public cannot be completely removed. A withdrawal creates a new version of the paper marked as withdrawn. That new version displays the reason for the withdrawal and does not link directly to the full text. Previous versions will still be accessible, including the full text.
On the other hand, at least one paper service, Elsevier’s SSRN (formerly the Social Science Research Network), allows authors to delete their papers from their repository immediately for any reason (FAQ). Similarly, some authors choose to distribute their work on their own websites, where they have more complete control over the contents. We believe these approaches put the needs of the author of over those of the research community. While a reasonable choice in some cases, this represents a philosophy different from ours.
We want an open, equitable, inclusive scholarly ecosystem in which people are free to share and use information as freely as possible. We have created this policy to serve that goal.
With the support of a generous gift from MIT Libraries, SocArXiv is delighted to announce the 2019 Sociology Open Access Recognition awards. With SOAR, people who win paper awards from sections of the American Sociological Association — for papers posted on SocArXiv — will get $250 to help cover their travel to the conference in New York City this summer.
So, if you’ve submitted a paper to be considered for an American Sociological Association section award – including a graduate student award – consider posting it on SocArXiv as well. Any paper that is uploaded by April 15 and wins a 2019 ASA section award will receive a SOAR award of $250 in recognition of your achievement. Support open access, gain recognition, and win money all at the same time!
How it works
You upload your paper to SocArXiv by April 15. Once you find out you’ve won a section award, email firstname.lastname@example.org to notify us. We’ll send you a check for $250 to help cover your travel, as well as publicizing your paper and officially conferring a SOAR award. That’s the whole deal.
Sharing your paper through SocArXiv is a win-win. It’s good for you, because you get the word out about your research. It’s good for social science, because more people have access to ungated information. And now, with SOAR prizes for award-winning papers, it can be good for your wallet, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I submitted a paper, but don’t notify SocArXiv it’s won a section award?
You will only receive a SOAR award if you let SocArXiv know at email@example.com by August 31, 2019 that your paper has won an ASA section award.
What if I upload my paper after I win the section award?
Any papers uploaded by April 15, 2019 are eligible. We welcome later sharing of papers, but they will not be eligible for SOAR awards.
Does the version submitted to SocArXiv have to be identical with the version submitted to the ASA section?
No. For example, if you upload to SocArXiv a pre-copyediting version of your published paper that you have permission to share, but send the award committee the published version, you are still eligible for the award.
I’d love to upload my paper, but my copyright agreement doesn’t allow me to. What do I do?
First, you may still have the right to upload some version of the paper, even if it is not the final published version. Check your author agreement, or the Sherpa/ROMEO database for the preprint policies of many academic journals. If you really can’t share any version, you are unfortunately not eligible for a SOAR award. But keep in mind for next time that copyright agreements can often be edited or amended. You don’t have to give away all rights to your work.
I am a graduate student submitting a paper for a graduate student section award. Am I still eligible?
Yes. ASA section awards for graduate student papers are also eligible for SOAR.
I am submitting my paper for an award in another disciplinary association. Am I eligible for SOAR?
At present SOAR awards are limited to papers recognized by ASA sections. However, we are always interested in building partnerships with other organizations and disciplines. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in developing a similar program for your organization.
Jeff Pooley, media and communication, Muhlenberg College
Alexis Santos, population health scientist and demographer, Pennsylvania State University
* Friends of SocArXiv will recognize Brittany Dernberger as our former graduate coordinator, and Kelsey Drotning, who now fills that role. They have both contributed to our administration and decision-making for a while, so this is more a recognition than a new job for them.
The new members join the current founding members:
In December 2018 five members of the SocArXiv steering committee — Judy Ruttenberg, Rebecca Kennison, Chris Bourg, Elizabeth Popp Berman, and Philip Cohen, in different capacities — participated in a meeting organized by the Association of Research Libraries and the Social Science Research Council, with representatives from social science scholarly societies, libraries, funders, and engaged academics, to develop a shared agenda for the future of open scholarship.
A selection from video interviews Philip Cohen did with Alson Reed, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Brian Nosek, Jessica Polka, Ed Liebow, and Chris Bourg, is available here.
A presentation about academy-owned peer review, from Philip Cohen and Micah Altman, is here.
Other presentations included Elizabeth Popp Berman on the nature of both closure and openness in the economics discipline, and Marcel LaFlamme on the risks for scholarly societies in embracing — or not embracing — openness.
By the end of the meeting, participants agreed on five action steps to move forward together:
Conduct an authoritative investigation into scholarly society finances by
a trusted third party, as the basis for financial and business model
conversations with societies and external stakeholders
Commission a paper on the role of scholarly societies and scholarly
affiliation in a post-subscription environment
Conduct a case study pilot on linguistics promotion-and-tenure (P&T)
Explore implementing peer review in SocArXiv and PsyArXiv
Assess the impact of the reporting relationship between university presses
and university libraries
I got involved in a debate over at orgtheory about the pluses and minuses of putting working papers on line at SocArXiv (or elsewhere). That debate was tangled up with a variety of issues around the proposal to require public posting of papers that win (or are submitted to) section paper award competitions.
In this post I want to avoid that tangle of other issues and open discussion/debate on the narrower question of whether the discipline of sociology as a field should do all it can to move toward the model of other fields, where working papers are routinely placed on public archives before they go through peer review for ultimate publication.
The sociology model as it is generally practiced involves writing a paper, presenting it at conferences and circulating drafts of it around for a year or more, submitting it to a journal, going through several iterations of rejections and R&Rs, and finally getting it published maybe 4 or 5 years after it the work was originally done. In the meantime, some people (those you were at conferences with or to whom you sent the paper) know about the work, while others working in the same area may not know about it and thus will not cite it or be influenced by it, junior scholars worry that their work will be scooped by a more senior person who gets the idea from a circulating PDF or as an anonymous reviewer, and knowledge as a whole bogs down.
The alternative model practiced in many fields is: (1) Do the work and present it at conferences as the work evolves. Be known as the person/team working on problem X because you have talked about it at multiple conferences. (2) Post a working paper on ArXiv or SSRN etc. as soon as you think you have something to report. (3) Other people cite and debate your work based on the ArXiv or SSRN etc version. If it is wrong it gets called out and fixed. If it is novel and correct, you get invited to more conferences to discuss it and you learn about the work others are doing in the same field. (4) Your paper slogs its way through peer review and ultimately gets published; then you link to the published version from the working paper site.
I advocate moving from our current model to the open model. I think the academic field as a whole wins when the work is made public and accessible as soon as possible: the author wins from getting their work noticed, and knowledge wins from everybody knowing about it. This is also the best model for influencing public debate outside the academy. I think it is also best for young scholars. The best way to have some protection against others plagiarizing your work (or some recourse if they do) is to be able to prove when you did the work, and the best way to do that is with a time-stamped public archive. Additionally, it allows young scholars to get known while their work is still making its way to peer review and publication.
Changing models does involve some real issues. Here are the important issues and my thoughts about them:
(1) Issue: Posting work too early will make me look stupid, as the work will improve over time. Alternate version: other people posting work too early gives me too much bad work to read. Response: Don’t post work you think is stupid. But as the work improves you can: a) replace the paper with an updated/corrected version; b) make the paper unavailable if you realize it is wrong (i.e. basically retract it). My own evolving strategy has been to use the abstract on a working paper to state that this is a paper in process subject to revision. In one case, when I found an error in the paper, I annotated the corrected upload to note that it corrected an error in the earlier version. As far as other people’s work, you and I know that there is already a lot of published work that isn’t worth reading. Do what you do now: look at abstracts, skim possibly useful pieces, read closely only the ones that seem worth your time.
(2) Issue: Posting the work publicly will let other people know my name! I won’t be anonymous. Response: Yes, that is exactly the point. How else do you expect to build a career? Response to response: But what if Important People get mad at me or try to hurt me because I criticized them or said something that is politically unpopular? Or think my paper is stupid or wrong and look down on me? Response to response to response: These are real issues. If you write something with your name on it, your are held accountable for it. That is the price you pay if you want to be a scholar. Science accumulates from known individuals who stake their personal reputations on the veracity of what they write. You can be fired from a tenured professorship for falsifying your research reports. Fiction writers can be anonymous, but academics cannot. Anonymous blogs and social media accounts are another way to express opinions without being accountable (although it is getting harder and harder to stay anonymous).
(3) Issue: A standard practice of posting working papers before publication means that peer review will not be blind to the name of the author. Response: This is the biggest institutional change and needs some serious discussion. Does our current practice of removing the author’s name from publications undergoing peer review add enough value to outweigh the advantages of public posting of working papers? Does double-blind reviewing eliminate or at least mitigate the known biases against women, minorities, junior scholars? This is a complicated issue. First, blinding the author’s name is already often a charade, a ritual practice in which reviewers pretend that they do not know who the author is, when they actually do. Competent reviewers will automatically recognize the work of the key people in their field and many reviewers Google a paper they are asked to review. (For the record, my own practice is to wait to Google until after I have written the review.) Additionally, the editors of journals, who are the ones who actually make the decisions, are never blind to the author. Most of us believe that the integrity of the review process depends upon the anonymity of the peer reviewer, as any journal editor or frequent reviewer will tell you that people are quite willing to criticize their friends under the cloak of anonymity. Most people who review value their integrity as scholars too much to lie about what they think about a paper. At the same time, the matter of conscious or unconscious discrimination by reviewers should not be rejected out of hand. I do think there is symbolic value in leaving the author’s name off the paper because it signals that their status, gender etc. ought not to be a factor. The forms that reviewers fill out could also include questions: Have you read this paper prior to being asked to review it? Do you know who the author is? Do you suspect who the author is? Is the author a friend? An enemy?
(4) Issue: Publishing working papers destroys the value of the peer-reviewed journals. And what about books? Publishers cannot afford to print materials that people can get for free on the Internet. Response: This is where we dig into the core of the open science debate. The current model is that universities pay twice for science, first by paying the professors and other staff to do the research, and again by paying publishers so they can put the work in a library. Private publishers, who did not found journals nor do the entrepreneurial and academic work to build their reputations and prestige, have purchased the rights to journals and are extracting rents from them. Professional associations have taken a cut of these rents and so work to protect the publishers. This is the core of the fight. I will note that math and physics both rely on the ArXiv model (working paper before publication) and both fields still have private publishers extracting rents from them, so it is not clear that posting working papers actually hurts publishers, as long as the peer-reviewed article remains the gold standard for tenure.
The economics of the book publishing business is different and I am less certain how to address the book issues. It has become the case that many PhDs now embargo their dissertations and do not send them to Dissertation Abstracts as part of protecting the publishability of the book. This seems bad to me, as the record of dissertations (who did them, when, where, under which advisor) is itself of scholarly value. I will leave it to more knowledgeable people to debate the book business.
UPDATE: An additional issue: A journal will not accept my article if it has previously been posted on line. Response: This is one of the ongoing issues in open science. Journals vary in their policies, and disciplines vary in the mix of journal policies. I’ve heard that biology and medical science are more closed, for example. Most sociology journals do not consider this to be prior publication [this is ASA policy–ed.], but there certainly is a risk that the defense of journal rents could go down this path. This is a link to a site that tells you the policies of specific journals. I think I saw a blog somewhere that pulled the sociology journals from this list, but I don’t have the link right now. It gets complicated because federal law increasingly requires that scientists who have received funding put their results in an open access place, so we are all facing pressures that go in different directions. In general, most sociology journals treat the paper you sent to them before review as yours to do what you want to with, and only restrict your use of the copy of the published version; some even let you post that.
This year, in recognition of a commitment to open access publishing and research excellence, SocArXiv granted the Sociology Open Access Recognition (SOAR) award to the authors of seven papers. Each paper was shared on SocArXiv, and then won a section award from the American Sociological Association (ASA). These authors elected to make their important research accessible to researchers, practitioners, legislators, students.
Each paper won a $250 travel prize for attending the 2018 ASA meetings.
We want to thank every scholar who shared a paper on SocArXiv, and encourage all researchers to keep posting papers on SocArXiv. Showcasing award-winning papers on SocArXiv helps us get the word out and motivates others to share their work. We don’t have the money to grant the awards again next year (unless someone makes a donation for this purpose!), but we believe that openly sharing research is good for both the field and for the scholars who participate. The practice produces more interested readers, quicker feedback and citations, and more connections between scholars and those they’re trying to reach. Thank you!
If your ASA section or other scholarly community would like to use SocArXiv as a platform for your award submissions, please contact us; we’re happy to help.
Here are the 2018 SOAR award recipients, with links to the papers: