announcing socarxiv: the open-access repository for social science

If you are a social scientist who supports open access, please take five minutes to read this post, follow the instructions below, and help us launch SocArXiv, the new open repository for social science now being rolled out.

Almost all academics are frustrated by the fact that so much research is behind a paywall. Even other researchers are often stymied by paywalls when working at home, or simply because their libraries don’t subscribe to all the journals. That problems in only amplified for journalists and the public.

One workaround to this problem is posting preprints — prepublication versions of papers, whether early drafts or final but uncopyedited versions of accepted articles. While policies vary by journal, the vast majority allow this in some form. This allows you to get your own research out to as wide an audience as possible, often long before the published version is available.

But where do you put preprints? Some people post them to a personal website or a university open repository. But increasingly people are using commercial sites — particularly, though certainly not exclusively, (See, for example, this orgtheory comment thread from earlier in the week.)

Sites like Academia have real problems, though, when it comes to open access. Other disciplines have open access preprint servers. Most notably, math, physics, computer science and related fields use arXiv, an online repository that’s been in existence for 25 years and includes over a million papers.

The social sciences have seemed, if anything, to be moving in the opposite direction. SSRN, for example, was recently purchased by Elsevier, to the dismay of many observers.

We need an alternative. (Here’s my spiel on why.) And now we have one. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Philip Cohen, who has forged an alliance with the Open Science Framework, and a terrific steering committee (if I do say so myself), SocArXiv is on its way. It will be a simple method for getting your work out there without putting it behind either a paywall or placing it in the hands of a company that wants to make money off of it, not increase access to it.

The full rollout will be happening very soon. But in the meanwhile, you can already start depositing papers. Yesterday a temporary deposit site went up. It’s incredibly simple to use. You send an email to from your primary email. The title of the email is your paper title. The text of the email is your abstract. You attach your preprint (as a pdf, Word file, whatever). You hit send.

That’s it. Rinse and repeat. If you want, add some tags to your paper to make it easier to find. When the full site is running, all the deposited papers will roll directly into SocArXiv.

The framework is very robust, and there are a lot of other possibilities. You can also post code, data, and other kinds of files, and commenting options and much more will be coming in the near future.

What we need right now, though, is for people to start adding papers.

If you are a social scientist who supports open access, this is what you can do.

  1. Take five minutes. Go to this link. Email a paper to the deposit site. It really is that easy.
  2. Spread the word about SocArXiv to your social networks. Ask them to upload a paper.

The institutional support is there, the personal commitment is there, but what will make this take off is a critical mass of participants.

Lots of us want to see something like this work. The moment is right — help make open access a reality in social science.

Written by epopp

July 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Posted in uncategorized

11 Responses

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  1. Hi,
    Fantastic initiative! Having recently deleted my SSRN account (and being reluctantly feeding and ResearchGate with my work), I am delighted to see a better replacement coming up.
    Posting a paper proved straightforward, as explained by Beth above, but I still faced a couple of hurdles. Hopefully, someone can tell me what am I missing here.
    First, I couldn’t find a way to categorize my paper as… a paper. The drop-down menu offers a number of options, but all are focused on on-going projects, not published pieces.
    Second, if your employer, like mine, believes it’s a good idea to add legalese paragraphs in your email signature, be aware that they will be added to your paper’s abstract. Editing it from the website is very easy, so not a big deal.
    Third, I was unable to edit the citation. Again, since I posted a published piece, I’d like it to be properly referenced.
    Finally, I tend to post published PDFs (yeah, I know) rather than preprints. Is SocArXiv okay with this (leaving the responsibility on me, which is fine), or will those be blocked somehow?
    Again, many thanks for doing this.


    Bernard Forgues

    July 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm

  2. So this is a temporary system for getting papers in there, and the final interface will be somewhat different. At the moment, when you email a paper to the address above, the Open Science Framework creates a “project” for you. Projects include files, which in this case would be your paper, but could include other project-related files (like data). I assume the final version will make it clearer that this is a paper, not an ongoing project. However, the list here ( does call your paper a preprint.

    Re the citation, do you mean only having the first author listed here: If so, I suspect this is a temporary issue as well. Or are you looking at a citation somewhere else?

    For now, I believe it is self-policing. But I also alerted Philip Cohen to your comments, and he will jump in when he has a chance with any info I’m missing or wrong about.

    Thanks for helping us work out any bugs! And I noticed the paper you uploaded is very appropriate…



    July 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm

  3. Thanks for your prompt and detailed answer.
    As for the citation, there is a box called Citation which I would have loved to edit to provide the real reference of the paper rather that one generated by the system.
    Let me know if I can help.


    Bernard Forgues

    July 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm

  4. Hi Bernard: Beth is right, we are using the OSF project platform, and are limited to the existing categories for now. You will see that your paper is automatically tagged as a Preprint, but you can delete that tag or add a different one. As long as you leave the socarxiv tag we’ll incorporate the paper into the database. The citation is automatically generated, and it is to the OSF project or component. If you want to put the published paper’s citation, you can put that in the wiki box or, of course, on the paper itself. Finally, I don’t get the distinction between PDF and preprint, as most of the preprints are PDFs. As for what form of paper to post, as long as you have the right to post what you’re posting, feel free. If your copyright agreement says you can post the final version, that’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

    Philip N. Cohen

    July 14, 2016 at 3:42 pm

  5. Hi Phil,
    Thanks for the answer. As for citations, I believe it’d be nice if SocArXiv could find a way to *replace* the OSF one with the published paper’s reference. Citations count, unfortunately, so it’d be nice to avoid having citations to a given paper halved because different references are floating around.
    As for PDFs, sorry, I meant PDFs of published articles…


    Bernard Forgues

    July 14, 2016 at 3:49 pm

  6. Great post. Let publishing change for the better through open access!

    Liked by 1 person


    July 14, 2016 at 4:49 pm

  7. […] learned about it from this post by Elizabeth Popp […]


  8. […] learned about it from this post by Elizabeth Popp […]


  9. […] learned about it from this post by Elizabeth Popp […]


  10. I am puzzled by this statement: “Sites like Academia have real problems, though, when it comes to open access.”.

    What is the problem? I don’t use Academia, but I post preprints on ResearchGate and found it to be great dissemination tool. No problems so to speak of. It also looks to me that ResearchGate have become defacto standard among business scholars for posting preprints.

    Still, a good initiative.


    Ivan Z.

    July 20, 2016 at 5:06 am

  11. @Ivan — Thanks. Well, there are a couple of issues with Academia and ResearchGate. One is that they are gated. To the best of my knowledge, ResearchGate requires an academic email, and while anyone can create an Academia account, you still need an account to view the papers.

    The other is that both companies are venture-funded and really need to find a sustainable business model in order to keep going. The tentative ways they have explored doing that aren’t so great for academia or open science. Academia, for example, got smacked down a few months ago after a user received an email asking if he’d be interested in paying for his paper to be “reviewed for recommendation” by the platform. ResearchGate appears to want to produce metrics it can sell to universities, government agencies, and the like. Both hope to use network effects to lock people in, and then figure out how to make money off of them — much like Facebook.

    I think in the long run, these models are not likely to serve academia well. A nonprofit initiative still has to raise money to cover its costs, but doesn’t have the same need to prioritize profit over access.

    The U. of California has a nice explanation of why it doesn’t consider posting papers to Academia or ResearchGate to meet its open-access requirements:



    July 21, 2016 at 6:54 pm

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