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.