Content uploaded by Monica Marra
All content in this area was uploaded by Monica Marra on Jan 16, 2018
Content may be subject to copyright.
Information Services & Use 37 (2017) 371–387 371
Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of
ArXiv-based commenting resources for their
research communities. An initial survey
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, Via Piero Gobetti 93/3, I-40129 Bologna, Italy
Abstract. This paper conveys the outcomes of what results to be the ﬁrst, though initial, overview of commenting platforms
and related 2.0 resources born within and for the astrophysical community (2004–2016). Experiences were added, mainly in
the physics domain, for a total of twenty-two major items, including four epijournals – and four supplementary resources, thus
casting some light onto an unexpected richness and consonance of endeavours.
These experiences rest almost entirely on the contents of the database ArXiv, which adds to its merits that of potentially
setting the grounds for web 2.0 resources, and research behaviours, to be explored.
Most of the experiences retrieved are UK- and US-based, but the resulting picture is international, as various European coun-
tries, China and Australia have been actively involved. Final remarks about creation patterns and outcome of these resources are
outlined. The results integrate the previous studies according to which the web 2.0 is presently of limited use for communication
in astrophysics and vouch for a role of researchers in the shaping of their own professional communication tools that is greater
than expected. Collaterally, some aspects of ArXiv’s recent pathway towards partial inclusion of web 2.0 features are touched
upon. Further investigation is hoped for.
Keywords: Scholarly communication, scholarly commenting, 2.0 interaction, astrophysics, physics, peer-review, ArXiv
Signiﬁcant literature has proved that scholarly communities shape their online communication and
information practices in different modes according to the different disciplinary domains (, with
a review of the literature; ). These variably adjusted practices include uptake and use patterns of
speciﬁc online tools or families of tools, as it has been illustrated, e.g., for social media within research
The community of astrophysicists and that of physicists have received considerable attention with re-
gard to these topics, probably for having pioneeringly taken the path of remodelling a signiﬁcant part of
their internal communication by means of the Internet, and conceivably – with speciﬁc regard to astro-
physics – also for being a relatively small and tendentially self-contained scholarly community. Studies
have ranked physics as the third discipline by use of social media in general [9,51], although appropriate
warnings have been issued with regard to the speciﬁc behaviour of sub-disciplines . As for astro-
physics, the preferred modes of scholarly interaction have been convincingly found to consist of email
exchanges and colloquia within working groups . Also, it has been maintained that “astrophysicists
have limited engagement with Web 2.0 technologies”, while the role of “email networks” for communi-
cation has been stressed, in an overall setting where “face-to-face interaction remains an essential part
This article is published online with Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Li-
cense (CC BY-NC 4.0).
0167-5265/17/$35.00 © 2017 – IOS Press and the authors.
372 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
of the collaborative process” . This has later been conﬁrmed by [13,33](theformerinaspeciﬁc
context, the latter for high energy physicists).
In recent times, though, a non-negligible diffusion of some 2.0 communication tools has in fact been
detected. Light has been cast on the use of Twitter [26,27,29] and on that of professional social net-
works (; at present, anyway, these practices don’t appear to have decisively undermined the most
established communication trends in the discipline.
The present research is aimed at understanding astrophysicists’ and physicists’ disposition towards
paper commenting and rating in online contexts, through dedicated platforms. Interactivity is among the
major marks of the web 2.0 era , and it interlinks with the progressive erosion of scholarly consensus
around the classic form of peer-review ([23,54]; a review is in ). As such, scholarly commenting has
been object of dedicated studies since the ﬁrst decade of the present century. Neylon and Wu have
provided valuable considerations and insights into this practice at large: “commenting in the scientiﬁc
community simply hasn’t worked, at least not generally”, because scientists “are used to criticizing
articles in the privacy of ofﬁces and local journal clubs, not in a public, archived forum”, which may
damage careers; anonimity has pros and cons, namely it “can support more direct and honest discussion
but [...] often degrades discussions [...]. Another issue is that the majority of people making hiring and
granting decisions do not consider commenting a valuable contribution” .
In 2008, Michael Nielsen had supported the same perspective on his blog , and subsequently
identiﬁed a further obstacle in researchers’ tendency not to build the tools for online commenting on
themselves, which would be a driver of success for this kind of practice. In his words, “to create an open
scientiﬁc culture that embraces new online tools, two [...] tasks must be achieved: ﬁrst, build superb
online tools; and second, cause the cultural changes necessary for those tools to be accepted. [...] [The
former] requires a rare combination of strong design and technical skills, and a deep understanding
of how science works. The difﬁculty is [that] the people who best understand how science works are
scientists themselves, yet building such tools is not something scientists are typically encouraged [...]
to do” . Procter et al. are in line, conﬁrming that “so far [...] providing ratings or comments on
articles has not proved popular” in various scientiﬁc contexts .
The research that follows proposes a contextual revision of some of these otherwise sharable consid-
erations, as it tracks remarkable exceptions in scientists’ behaviour towards the creation and – to some
extent – uptake of commenting tools based on the world-famous preprint database ArXiv. The com-
munity of astrophysicists and – to the extent to which it has been surveyed – that of physicists, with
the addition of some mathematicians, shows over time a persisting effort to create 2.0 tools of its own,
destinated to colleagues, with the purpose of openly commenting papers posted on ArXiv.
The present research can be estimated to have required about ﬁfteen months of activity (FTE). The
ﬁrst documentation (both literature and web resources) was retrieved in late 2014, the last one in March
2017, with updates in Autumn.
Internet search engines have proved to be of limited usefulness in order to let these resources come
to light. Queries have been executed with the phrases “arxiv comment*”, “arxiv discuss*” and “arxiv
peer review*”. The ﬁrst three pages of results (30 items) for these queries yielded only 24,93% of the
twenty-two main resources here described (including the resources here simply mentioned would have
lowered the percentage furtherly). Instead, important sources have been previous online compilations
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 373
such as the wide shared database 400+Tools and innovations in scholarly communication (http://bit.
ly/innoscholcomm-list, last visited March 20, 2017), ﬁrst published in March 2015 by Bianca Kramer
and Jeroen Bosman of Utrecht University Library and then constantly updated . As at March 21,
2017, it listed as many as 668 resources. This unique collection has been thoroughly consulted in Spring
2016, with subsequent inspections later in 2016 and in 2017; at March 2017, it contained 31,81% of the
resources in the main group, only one of which – ViXra – could be retrieved also through the search
engine above. The utility of this resource has been concrete and unquestionable; anyway, due both to its
continuous update and to the prolonged and multiple-source documentation activity needed to get to the
present survey, it would be difﬁcult to reconstruct exactly, and retrospectively, the percentage of 400+
tools which represented an actual source for the present ﬁndings.
Particularly fruitful has proved to be tracking social media mentions, with special referral to blog com-
ments, as well as practising web browsing to some extent starting from the resources already retrieved
(”snowballing”). These strategies have demonstrated a special effectiveness, as they made it possible to
retrieve as much as 54,54% of the resources in the main list, plus one of those simply mentioned. A
conversation with an astrophysicist was the original source for a further platform, Cosmocoffee.
Precious details about some of the projects surveyed came from email exchanges with some of the
researchers involved, as will be detailed below (see also the acknowledgements).
About 60% of the bibliographic references was found in 2016, with a further ∼30% being ﬁled be-
tween 2013 and 2015. In fact, though, the literature was more useful for giving a proﬁle to some of the
themes involved than for providing concrete examples that be useful to the building of this survey. Actu-
ally, the literature was the original source for only two of the resources retrieved (Naboj and The RIOJA
Project) – although some more of these resources have received attention by researchers, journalists or
bloggers (some references are in the reference list).
The relatively long period of time which has been necessary to build up the present research has
provided the possibility to follow-up some of the resources retrieved, checking for their persistence
and – in a few cases – for the response from users over time.
The criteria for selecting the resources in this survey were: (a) having been created by researchers,
(b) for their same scholarly communities, and (c) relying on ArXiv contents entirely or almost entirely.
3. The importance of ArXiv beyond preprints provision
The creation of ArXiv, the ﬁrst and foremost preprint server in 1991, has been recognized as “the
most signiﬁcant change in scientiﬁc communication since the establishment of the journal in the 17th
century” . The importance of this novel way of circulating scientiﬁc papers exceeds that of enhancing
papers’ availability in a peculiarly early stage of their customary disclosure, as Arxiv has pioneeringly
explored all the main changes in XX and early XXI century’s scholarly communication practices, among
which the progressive maturation and diffusion of the open access movement. The latter found ArXiv
giving researchers the opportunity to upload accepted or published versions of papers, thus putting those
principles into practice for the communities involved, while the massive hosting of preprint papers let
this database be perceived as an implemented source for open contents, in spite of the conceptually
speciﬁc nature of this task.
In fact, ArXiv’s fruitfulness went beyond. As early as in 1994 – two years before it’s often stated to
have happened – Paul Ginsparg himself envisioned the possibility for ArXiv to act as a starting platform
for add-on tools fostering not only dissemination but also validation practices, the latter through the
374 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
birth of a network-based scholarly interactivity centered on the ArXiv eprints [21,22]. The classic article
by Rodriguez et al. shows how cleverly these suggestions could be seized and developed just after the
landmarking debut of the web 2.0 around 2005 . Later on, further scholars highlighted the existence
of potentialities for ArXiv with respect to 2.0 scholarly validation [1,18]. Meanwhile, as noted before,
the traditional features and role of peer-review within the science production chain was increasingly
questioned, while the milestone phenomenon of web 2.0 slowly began transforming academic practices
– as acknowledged even in cautious scholarly perspectives . Useful studies have aimed at tracking
this process and at casting light on a variety of 2.0 tools for the scholarly communities, as well as on
patterns of their use [2,12,14,31,51,53].
Nevertheless, the exact role of ArXiv within this global, substantial paradigm change doesn’t result
to have been fully investigated yet. Also, to the best of our knowledge there aren’t any comprehensive
studies about how the web 2.0 attitude has progressively affected the astrophysical ﬁeld, in addition to
the small amount of literature mentioned above – and below, the latter about some particular aspects.
Polydoratou and Moyle have interestingly surveyed astrophysicists’ attitudes towards ArXiv overlay
journals , in the context of a speciﬁc project accounted for in 4.a.3. infra.
As noted earlier, the use of Twitter among astrophysicists has received considerable attention in recent
years; the conclusions seem anyway to downplay its role for internal scholarly communication, although
from the present point of view it has been interestingly noted that “most tweets refer to the ArXiv instead
of the publishers’ versions” .
Ritson has examined some major socio-scientiﬁc aspects of the “trackback system” connecting ArXiv
papers and scientists’ blogs since 2005, with an account of the previous science-and-technology-studies
(STS) literature on the subject . From the present perspective, three points result to be fruitful:
(a) blogs, although peculiar in type, may well be considered means for providing papers with scientiﬁc
feedback, included peer-review; (b) in 2006, one year after the debut of the trackback system, blogs
ArXiv had approved for trackback were 51 and trackbacks were 5132. If considered that (c) the high-
energy physics community has long been discussing in order to ﬁnd consensus on how to practically
identify members enabled to have their blogs trackbacked to the ArXiv, these numbers cast light on a
phenomenon that may well be considered potentially wider and signiﬁcant.
Within the scientiﬁc communities, the topic of providing ArXiv with validation peer-review
type capacities – or not – has long been debated, as researchers’ blogs and forums can wit-
ness. An almost randomatic sampling – including the threads https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/
a-peer-review-system-for-the-arxiv.568276/ (2012; last visited November 2, 2017) and http://academia.
stackexchange.com/questions/32367/why-doesnt-arxiv-have-a-comment-section (2014, last visited
November 2, 2017) – may provide an interesting insight into the views of shrewd and lively scientiﬁc
3.1. ArXiv and its present situation with respect to the web 2.0 setting
It may appear somehow paradoxical that ArXiv, whose creator had so impressingly timely envisioned
his database’s potential in the future web 2.0 ecosystem, hasn’t been equipped with corresponding tools
so far – notwithstanding ArXiv’s persisting role as a pillar resource for astrophysicists. Paul Ginsparg’s
explanation for this slow pace has been the database’s organizational framework due to budget and per-
sonnel constraints . Things might now be changing to some extent, as in April 2016 ArXiv conducted
an online survey among its users in order to “improve arXiv and think of future directions for the ser-
vice” . Meaningfully, opinions were polled about the possibility of adding a rating and an annotating
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 375
system, thus allowing readers to comment on eprints on the database itself. In both cases, the respon-
dents were almost equally divided between strongly in support – which was closely related to lower
age – and strongly unfavourable (35% vs. 34% respectively, as for annotation; exactly 36% respectively,
for the rating system: ), which appears to have led the team to not prioritize these issues. Anyway,
the availability of a “next-generation arXiv” in three years’ time  seems to be setting the technical
grounds for some 2.0 services to be more easily provided in the future.
The present situation of ArXiv, jointly with its persisting overall popularity conﬁrmed by the 2016
survey – 52.92% “very satisﬁed”; 42.43% “satisﬁed” – could bring to the supposition that a limited web
2.0 evolution of the database goes well with the astrophysical community’s still prevailing inclination to
tendentially preserve its current scholarly practices. In fact, there is signiﬁcant evidence of commenting
practices to ArXiv papers much beyond the traditional channels, with proper involvement of the web 2.0
4. Commenting on ArXiv
A largely practised mode of online interaction is represented by researchers’ blogs and forums, which
may comment on ArXiv papers. This speciﬁc channel is being barely mentioned here, as the complex-
ity of the scenario and the relations with ArXiv through the so-called “trackback system”  would
require an extended analysis. A single, early experience will anyway be accounted for and it’s the one
of Cosmocoffee (http://cosmocoffee.info/, last visited October 31, 2017), an astrophysical forum born
in September 2004 as “intended for authorised arxiv authors and students” (http://cosmocoffee.info/faq.
php). 2873 international users have registered as at October 31, 2017 (http://cosmocoffee.info/index.
php). Although Cosmocoffee results to be a multi-purpose information resource, founders “hope that
it can also become a useful reference resource, complementing the arxiv itself. [...] Daily we discuss
work and new papers with colleagues, either at our local coffee break or via email with colleagues all
over the world. This discussion can be an extremely effective way to understand things better. As such,
it seemed to make sense that those discussions be shared with others and be public. [...] Therefore we
set up cosmocoffee.info [...]” (http://cosmocoffee.info/faq.php#0). Posts can be read freely, but posting
is only for the registered users. The sub-forum “ArXiv papers” appears to have started with a post by UK
cosmologist Antony Lewis on September 24, 2004; last post was issued on August 15, 2014 (as at Octo-
ber 31, 2017) after a total of 1031 posts on 260 topics (http://cosmocoffee.info/index.php; other sections
are still current). Cosmocoffee’s administrators result to be Sarah Bridle (University of Manchester),
Olivier Dore (JPL-CalTech), Antony Lewis (University of Sussex) and Mike Nolta (Canadian Institute
for Theoretical Astrophysics) (http://cosmocoffee.info/faq.php#0; afﬁliations as at present). For as much
as it results, Cosmocoffee has never been object of dedicated studies.
The present survey will focus on different-type 2.0 resources which offer commenting features in the
physical and astrophysical domains. For presentation purposes, it seems possible to roughly divide the
resources retrieved into three main categories:
(a) Resources or projects aimed at buiding new, open access and more interactive forms of the tradi-
tional scholarly journals. The model is that of the “overlay journal” or “epijournal” [6,44,52];
(b) “Actual” commenting platforms;
(c) Different tools which can very roughly be deﬁned as variant forms of ArXiv – with whom they
have no kind of afﬁliation or other apparent link. These will be conveyed ﬁrstly, due to their pe-
culiar characteristics. The tools in this section often have more limited web 2.0 capacities and are
376 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
considerably different both from each other and partly from ArXiv, too. They witness a widespread
effort to build upon the model, as well as ArXiv’s totemic standing within the physics and astro-
physics environments – e.g. in the names and graphic look of 4.c.2. and 4.c.3.
The resources will be described synthetically; for some more details, as at March 2017, see .
4.c. “Variant” forms of ArXiv
The deﬁnition, as said before, is intentionally broad and pragmatic, in order to group together online
entities with commenting feature appearing to be, overall, secondary. Their focus, in fact, seems to
be about modifying some of ArXiv’s main features: either improving search functions, or renewing
visualization features, or being suitable for a different audience, or changing authors’ admission policy.
4.c.1. ArXivsorter (http://www.arxivsorter.org, last visited October 30, 2017) was born thanks to the
young French astrophysicist Brice Ménard, and to Jean-Philippe Magué; it was registered on Source-
forge on July 30, 2007 (https://sourceforge.net/projects/arxivsorter/). On the homepage: “Arxivsorter
uses the network of co-authorship to estimate a proximity between people. It then ranks a list of publica-
tions using a friends-of-friends algorithm”, seeming thus to be aimed at customizing ArXiv-astrophysics
papers’ sorting for the registered users. “The Arxivsorter algorithm [...] ranks a list of papers, without
any loss of information” (http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/~menard/Arxivsorter_Documentation/).
4.c.2. ViXra (2009; http://vixra.org/, last visited October 31, 2017), created by the independent UK-
based physicist Philip Gibbs, “has been founded by scientists who ﬁnd they are unable to submit their
articles to arXiv.org because of Cornell University’s policy of endorsements and moderation [...]. ViXra
is an open repository for new scientiﬁc articles. It does not endorse e-prints accepted on its website,
neither does it review them against criteria such as correctness or author’s credentials” (http://vixra.
org/). Commenting presently happens outside ViXra, apparently mainly through the resource’s account
on Freeforums (vixra.freeforums.org). ViXra hosted 20700 outputs at October 31, 2017, 1378 of which
in astrophysics (http://vixra.org/), and is equipped with active social media accounts. About ViXra, see
and; the tool is listed in .
4.c.3. SnarXiv (http://snarxiv.org/, last visited October 31, 2017) was born in 2010 by initiative of
David Simmons-Dufﬁn, by that time a PhD student in high-energy physics at Harvard University,
and in a somehow bohemian spirit. “The snarXiv is a random high-energy theory paper generator”
(http://davidsd.org/2010/03/the-snarxiv/) – basically a parody. It includes an interactive game: “arXiv
vs. snarXiv” (http://snarxiv.org/vs-arxiv/), where players have to spot genuine ArXiv titles from SnarXiv
ones, and get rated for their performance.
4.c.4. Astrobites (https://astrobites.org/, last visited October 31, 2017) is a successful project created in
2010 by graduate students in astronomy. Its “goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief for-
mat that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences” (https://astrobites.org/about/)–
although it’s also a web portal for different-type information. Typically, the papers suggested are from
ArXiv’s astrophysics section “astro-ph”. The resource is presently written by thirty people, mainly based
in the US and in the UK (https://astrobites.org/meet-the-authors/). Past web hosting was at Harvard Uni-
versity, with the help of James Guillochon (https://astrobites.org/about/; see below, 4.b.3.); remarkably,
“since 2016 Astrobites has been hosted and supported by the American Astronomical Society”. Links to
other commenting resources in astrophysics are provided (VoxCharta,ArXiver, see below); Astrobites
has popular proﬁles on Twitter and on Facebook.
4.c.5. 2013 saw the debut of the impressing PaperScape (http://paperscape.org/, last visited March 17,
2017), “an interactive map that visualises the arXiv” in the form of a multi-coloured galaxy, with each
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 377
star representing an ArXiv paper. The ”map [...] can be explored by panning and zooming. The papers
are sized according to their number of citations and positioned according to their references/citations.
Different categories of the arXiv are assigned different colours, and newer papers are more brightly
coloured. The original project complements this map by letting you draw graphs of the papers that
interest you, with the papers as nodes and citations as links. It’s possible to register a personal proﬁle,
with which you can tag relevant papers as well as save and share the graphs you make” . Developers
are young physicists Damien P. George, currently working at the Department of Applied Mathematics of
the University of Cambridge, and Robert J. Knegjens. It was accounted for by several blogposts (http://
4.c.6. October 2013 saw the debut of arXiver (http://arxiver.net/, last visited November 4, 2017),
whose “original credit for the idea” is acknowledged to the young British astrophysicist and web 2.0 ac-
tivist Robert Simpson; (co-)maintainers are the Australian postdoctoral student Vanessa Moss (CAAS-
TRO: http://www.caastro.org/people/moss-dr-vanessa, visited November 5, 2017), and Aidan Hotan
(http://www.arxiver.net/about/). While ArXiv is said to be highly appreciated, it is also maintained that
it presently appears “not very nice to look at (too much text!)” and “it would be nice to be able to glance
at a visually-appealing summary of different papers to then go forth and read properly” (https://arxiver.
wordpress.com/about/); this seems to basically consist in providing selected pictures from the article by
the side of the ArXiv abstract. In fact, registered users can also assign “likes” to papers’ posts. An inter-
esting feature was the initial absence of author names in new papers’ posts, in order to correct for any
possible author bias (https://arxiver.wordpress.com/faq/). Since its debut, ArXiver was equipped with a
Twitter feed, which had 1041 followers as at November 5, 2017.
4.c.7. Cloudy Science (https://cloudyscience.wordpress.com/, last visited November 5, 2017) was born
presumably either in 2014 or shortly before, but “revived” in January 2015 “after a long period of stagna-
tion” (https://cloudyscience.wordpress.com/updates/). It is deﬁned as a “partner site” by ArXiver (http://
arxiver.net/). “The goal of Cloudy Science is to present automatically generated wordclouds that give
a researcher insight into the content of a paper, offering another way to quickly judge whether a paper
might be [...] relevant to them. It currently only focuses on arXiv’s astro-ph” (https://cloudyscience.
wordpress.com/about/). Registered readers can assign “likes” to single papers, but this feature appears
to have been very scarcely used. At the moment of writing, Cloudy Science is “brought to you” by
ArXivist (http://arxivist.com, last visited November 5, 2017) and ArXiv Sanity Preserver (http://www.
arxiv-sanity.com, last visited November 5, 2017) were both born in 2016, the latter’s interface appearing
more sophisticated and appealing than the former as at writing. They also share the feature of using
readers’ preferences – as provided in a web 2.0 environment – for customizing ArXiv daily updates for
users accordingly. Both developers (Anton Lukyanenko and Andrej Karpathy respectively) are US-based
and are active in the mathematic ﬁeld (the former) and in computer science (the latter), which suggests
not to get into further details in the present context.
We’re not going into other meaningful alike projects in the scientiﬁc domain either, partly as they
appear to be multidisciplinary (such as Academic Karma), and because they don’t show a tight link with
ArXiv (e.g. Preprints,https://www.preprints.org/). This doesn’t mean that some of them may not have
reached interested astrophysicists and may have been explored to some extent.
4.a. ArXiv-based overlay journals and projects
Mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists have shown an active attitude at implementing
ArXiv-based overlay journals ([6,44]; early examples in ). Meaningful samples of computer sci-
378 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
entists’ views on the subject, supplemented by a speciﬁc project, can be read at the blogpost “Sci-
entiﬁc journals in the e-publishing age”, written by computer scientist Philip Thrift on his blog “Oc-
cupy publishing” on February 1, 2012 and widely commented (http://occupypublishing.blogspot.it/
2012/02/scientiﬁc-journals-in-e-publishing-age.html, last visited November 6, 2017). Also to 2012 but
to the mathematic ﬁeld seems to have belonged the project of arXiv Review (no more available at
http://arxiv-review.org/ in March 2017), apparently intended as an ArXiv overlay journal with com-
menting and rating features. Related documentation can still be found e.g. at http://occupypublishing.
blogspot.it/2012/02/guidelines-for-arxiv-review.html, last visited November 8, 2017. In the same do-
main, new projects have been implemented recently, such as Tim Gowers’ Discrete analysis (http://
discreteanalysisjournal.com/, 2015, last visited November 6, 2017; announcements on Gower’s blog, e.g.
https://gowers.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/discrete-analysis-launched/, last visited November 6, 2017).
New achievements have been accomplished in physics, too and will be accounted for in more detail.
4.a.1. Dutch platform SciPost (https://www.scipost.org/, last visited November 5, 2017), founded in
2016 by Jean-Sébastien Caux, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam, presently
provides three ArXiv-overlay publications: “SciPost Physics”, “SciPost Physics Lecture Notes” and
“SciPost Physics Proceedings” (https://www.scipost.org/journals/), whose contents are published under
the CC-BY 4.0 license and equipped with DOIs (https://www.scipost.org/FAQ). Commenting is possi-
ble for registered contributors. “SciPost Physics”, indexed in GoogleScholar, publishes research articles
in experimental, theoretical and computational physics, including cosmology and astroparticle physics
(https://www.scipost.org/10.21468/SciPostPhys/about); as at writing, seventy-one accepted articles have
been published. Outstandingly, Scipost is endorsed by the Netherlands Organization for Scientiﬁc Re-
search (NWO) (https://www.scipost.org/), which ﬁnanced the startup phase (https://www.scipost.org/
FAQ#scipost_funded). SciPost relies upon an international editorial college of about ﬁfty members (as
at November 6, 2017), with an advisory board of ten academics from the Netherlands as well as from
other European countries. This resource is cited by .
4.a.2. Quantum (http://quantum-journal.org/, 2016, last visited November 6, 2017) is a further suc-
cessful, open-access, not-for-proﬁt, peer-reviewed ArXiv-overlay journal, sharing with SciPost some
more features, and is active in quantum science and related ﬁelds. “All papers submitted to Quantum
must be listed on (or cross-listed with) the arXiv section quant-ph. In case of acceptance, the ﬁnal
version must be uploaded to the arXiv before publication” (http://quantum-journal.org/about/faqpage/).
Thirty-two articles have been published as at writing.
In an interview to the blog “Scholastica”, co-founder Christian Gogolin (ICFO Institute of Photonic
Sciences, Barcelona) states that “we were strongly inspired by other arXiv overlay journals; perhaps
Quantum’s distinguishing feature is the strong emphasis on community involvement” (http://buff.ly/
2k5yqUx, last visited November 6, 2017). The fourty-members editorial board is mainly European.
Accepted papers are published under a CC-BY 4.0 licence and receive a DOI through Crossref; “Quan-
tum is backed by a democratic non-proﬁt society” (the viennese Verein zur Förderung des Open Access
Publizierens in den Quantenwissenschaften: http://quantum-journal.org/impressum/, last visited Novem-
ber 6, 2017). A subreddit has been provided for feedback and discussions, https://www.reddit.com/r/
quantumjournal/ (last visited November 6, 2017); own Twitter and Facebook proﬁles look popular, the
former resulting to have 1705 followers, the latter 1272 as at November 7, 2017.
In the ﬁeld of astrophysics, a single example of ArXiv-based overlay journal has seen the light up
to the moment (4.a.4., infra), but previous, sometimes advanced efforts in this direction had been made
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 379
In a blog comment to the later experience of 4.a.4. (infra), Daniel Fischer witnessed that about 1997
some researchers attending a conference in Germany had already conceived the idea of creating a journal
“ArXiv mated with open peer review” [...] the name that journal should be given: “Open Astronomy”,
but “the concept never saw the light [...]”. It seems credible that the same consideration has arisen
elsewhere too in the global astrophysical community; this is proved as at June 2005 among a group of
young but very mindful British astrophysicists contributing to CosmoCoffee, which included Antony
Lewis and Sarah Bridle (http://cosmocoffee.info/viewtopic.php?t=276, last visited November 7, 2017).
Some years later, two relevant projects reached far more advanced, though different, stages of fulﬁl-
ment and appear to be or have been well-rooted within the astrophysical community.
4.a.3. The ﬁrst one was the impressing RIOJA Project (Repository Interface to Overlaid Journal
Archives, 2007), which has been recognized as the ﬁrst overlay project in astrophysics .
This initiative was supported by prominent scholarly institutions both in the UK and in the USA:
University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University of Glasgow, UCL, Cornell University,
and funded by JISC. It was preceeded by a careful examination of the side conditions inclusive of a wide
survey created by Polydoratou and Moyle [42,49] as well as by a feasibilty study . A ﬁnal report was
also provided in 2008 . Although a demonstrator implementation was achieved, as witnessed by the
ﬁnal report, it results that no overlay journal has subsequently been built on that technology. The RIOJA
Project has been accounted for by [6,8,44].
4.a.4. Five years later (2012), and still in a UK context, a new project was launched by professor Pe-
ter Coles, theoretical cosmologist at the University of Cardiff, and eventually led to The Open Journal
(http://astro.theoj.org, last visited November 7, 2017). The launch of the initiative came with the blog-
post A Modest Proposal – The Open Journal of Astrophysics, published on Coles’ blog “In the dark” on
July 17, 2012 – following previous discussions within and outside this blog . In Coles’ words: “[...]
My suggestion is that we set up a quick-and-easy trial system to circumvent the traditional publishing
route. The basic is that authors who submit papers to the arXiv can have their papers refereed by the
community, outside the usual system of traditional journals. I’m thinking of a website on which authors
would simply have to post their arXiv ID and a request for peer review. Once accepted, the author would
be allowed to mark the arXiv posting as “refereed” and an electronic version would be made available
for free on the website” (ibid.); the accepted articles are published under a CC-BY license and the re-
viewer comments can be disclosed “at the joint discretion of the authors and reviewers” (http://astro.
theoj.org/about). Almost 70 qualiﬁed comments were received from other scholars within the following
fortnight (plus others successively). Interestingly, one of them came from one of the researchers previ-
ously involved both in the mentioned discussion on CosmoCoffee in June 2005 and later in the RIOJA
project, who is now a member of OJ’s editorial board (http://astro.theoj.org/about). Also, Robert Simp-
son (see 4.c.6. above) collaborated to the code development (https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2014/05/
10/the-open-journal-for-astrophysics-project/, visited November 7, 2017). On 22 December 2015 it was
announced that “the Open Journal is open for submissions” at http://astro.theoj.org/ ; shortly after,
Nature dedicated an article to the OJ . As of November 7, 2017, three papers appear as “accepted”.
4.b. “Actual” commenting platforms
4.b.1. Naboj (http://www.naboj.com/, last visited November 8, 2017) was created in 2004/2005 (http://
www.naboj.com/news.php) and now appears to be abandoned. Its name seems to be an anagram of the
ﬁrst name of its creator, Bojan Tunguz, who reports to have been “an international [physics] student and
faculty at various US colleges and universities” (http://www.tunguz.com/About/, last visited November
380 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
8, 2017). The tool is described as “a dynamical website that lets [...] [registered users] review online
scientiﬁc articles [...] that have been posted at Los Alamos ArXiv and PubMed Central”. In fact, the
papers commented come almost exclusively from ArXiv. The resource seems to have been used by a
restricted number of physicists: from 2005 to 2010, 23 comments were made, almost entirely on physics
papers; more than 78% were made during the ﬁrst two years of Naboj’s existence. Rather interestingly,
comments themselves could be voted as “useful” or “not useful”. The last review available is dated
February 18, 2010 (http://www.naboj.com/recent_reviews.php). Naboj was accounted for by and
, as well as mentioned in .
4.b.2. Scirate (https://scirate.com/about, last visited November 8, 2017) was originally created by US
physicist and computer scientist Dave Bacon in January 2007 (http://scienceblogs.com/pontiff/2010/
06/07/what-to-do-with-scirate/, last visited November 8, 2017), then rewritten by Bill Rosgen in early
2012 (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/scirate/wnjkKSZYZkI, dated 24.4.2012). Its code is on
GitHub and data are published under a CC-BY-SA license (https://scirate.com/about). The informa-
tion on its features appears to be synthetic on the website – at least for non-registered users (“Follow
arXiv.org categories and see the highest ranked new papers; scite [i.e.: vote] papers and subscribe to cat-
egories, sign up to customize your view of the site” (ibidem), but the interface is rather self-explanatory.
Presently, eighteen ArXiv categories are available, including astrophysics, various branches of physics,
mathematics and computer science. Users need to have registered. For a temptative assessment of its
usage, the ArXiv papers which had been “scirated” at least twice during the year from 6 April 2015 to
6 April 2016 were 53; 2 of them had been commented. The resource appears to be more widely used
by mathematicians and physicists, which is probably related with what seems to be the predominant re-
search interest within the Scirate working group (“the Scirate Collaboration”, https://scirate.com/about),
i.e. quantum physics. Scirate is listed in .
4.b.3.VoxCharta (http://harvard.voxcharta.org, 2009, last visited November 8, 2017) is somehow pe-
culiar among the tools in this group, as it provides rating and commenting on ArXiv papers for a prac-
tical aim: selecting papers for subsequent real-life scholarly discussions. Thus, this resource seems to
bridge the gap between the two different ecosysytems of virtual and real-life scholarly communication,
possibly making its adoption easier also by research communities which appreciate more traditional
means of internal communication. At present, the homepage states that researchers from 419 worldwide
research institutions have registered for using VoxCharta with their colleagues – although not all of
these communities are active (usage data at http://ucsc.voxcharta.org/tools/institution-stats/).VoxCharta
is self-deﬁned as “a clone of arXiv used primarily for astronomy and astrophysics paper discussions.
Users have the ability to vote for papers they would like to talk about at the next local discussion ses-
sion. All papers that received votes [...] appear in an “agenda” at the top of the main page, sorted by
the number of votes each paper receives [...]. Additionally, each paper has a “comments” link that al-
lows you to post things that people who are reading astro-ph may ﬁnd interesting, or might be useful to
look at when talking [...] at a discussion section. Viewing the web page can be done anonymously, but
voting and commenting on papers requires an account. [...] each department that uses Vox Charta has
a person designated as a “liaison” who approves all new accounts for that department” ( http://harvard.
voxcharta.org/about/about-this-website/). Starting from a local account, you can use VoxCharta globally
by checking the preferences given to a paper worldwide. VoxCharta was designed and is maintained by
astrophysicist James Guillochon (ibid.), currently at the ITC within Harvard-Smithsonian Center for As-
trophysics (https://itc.cfa.harvard.edu/people/james-guillochon). Thanks to his courtesy, we know that
the ﬁrst discussion took place on July 28, 2009; after a couple of months, due to other institutions’
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 381
expressions of interest, the ability for the site to support multiple institutions simultaneously was imple-
mented. The original number of ArXiv categories was gradually extended including, e.g., high energy
physics. VoxCharta is listed in .
4.b.4. Another prominent experience is PaperRater (http://www.paperrater.org/, last visited Novem-
ber 8, 2017), created by young German astrophysicist Peter Melchior in 2010. Differently from other
platforms, “PaperRater.org reads the daily submission to any category of arXiv and [also] searches for
published papers on The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) [...]”, the latter notoriously
being the main database for published articles in astrophysics. The tool’s fundamentals are stated as fol-
lows: “You can help [...] by rating, tagging or commenting papers. You can rate every paper only once,
but you can change the rating later at any time. Your rating is anonymous. The distribution of ratings
will be shown once a sufﬁcient number of ratings is reached. You can add as many tags to each paper
as you like [...] No other user can ﬁnd out, which papers you rated or even what your rating was, nor
what tags you chose. In contrast, comments are meant to be public. If you [...] decide that you want to
stay anonymous [...] you can choose to do so for any comment independently” (http://www.paperrater.
org/help/getting-started.html, dated March 3, 2012). PaperRater’s interface looks user-friendly and the
tool’s mission is clearly stated in the ﬁrst post of the dedicated blog (October 8, 2010): “The peer review
process has a long-standing tradition in improving manuscript quality [...] However, it is not infalli-
ble [...] as students and researchers we all read papers daily [...] and judge them [...] this process is
able to improve a paper’s quality beyond what a single referee could achieve. If the joint wisdom of
the community could be bundled. This is what PaperRater.org is all about: to augment and eventually
replace the intransparent process of peer review [...] by a public one” (http://www.paperrater.org/blog/
In March 2016 the author’s kindness made it possible to give some ﬁgures of users’ response over
time. Reads had increased signiﬁcantly from 2010 (1467) to 2012 (2964), starting then to decrease (678
in 2013) until the last year available (363 in 2015). Ratings had reached a maximum during the ﬁrst year
(111) and decreased markedly after 2013 (when they were 20). Registered users were 558 – as at March
4.b.5. TheideaofYouASTRO (http://youastro.dyndns.org:43905/, last visited March 17, 2017) came
during a post-conference international evening colloquium among astrophysicists – as kindly reported
from project co-creator, Italian dr. Fabrizio Bocchino (Italian National Institute for Astrophysics),
who wrote the YouASTRO code. The other involved researchers were Javier Lòpez-Santiago, Juan F.
Albacete-Colombo and Niccolò Bucciantini. The tool was operative in 2011 and the project was pre-
sented to that year’s ADASS conference . As the platform is no more reachable at its url as at writing,
the subsequent information comes from a visit made on March 17, 2017, unless speciﬁed differently.
“YouASTRO is a web application which allows us to leave comments and give rating to refereed as-
trophysical papers. For now, the papers which can be commented are only the papers appearing on the
SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System [...] The YouASTRO Board of Editors think that the YouAS-
TRO “leave a comment” feature can be of great beneﬁt to the scientiﬁc community, if used widespreadly.
It promotes the online scientiﬁc discussion focussed on papers [...] in the framework of a general and
continuous improvement of the quality of scientiﬁc publications, and the overall advance of science”
(http://youastro.dyndns.org/faqs.html). “Registered users can vote a paper, one vote per paper [...]rat-
ing goes from 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent). Ratings are always anonymous [...] YouASTRO only
shows average ratings [...] after more than 3 ratings have been received”. The focus results to be on
published articles rather than on preprints (e.g.: “comments to astroph papers will be automatically mi-
grated to the refereed version (...) when it appears”). As at June 2016, YouASTRO had 434 registered
382 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
users (were 100 on 20.12.2011, http://youastro.dyndns.org/news.html, visited July 4, 2016); peaks of
activity were achieved during the ﬁrst years of operativity. Public comments result to be only 34,69%
and, among them, anonymity is the standard (92,08%).
4.b.6. ArXaliv was created presumably at the beginning of 2012 by young mathematician Ralph Fur-
maniak, who was a PhD student at Stanford University by that time. When publicising his platform
on a forum for colleagues on March 28, 2012, Furmaniak wrote “I have set up the reddit software to
work with the arxiv database [...] Each day it will update the list with the latest papers and you can
upvote, downvote, comment, save links of interest, search, post new links, or create your own communi-
ties/arxalivs to post in or have others post links or writings of interest to them. [...]” (http://publishing.
mathforge.org/discussion/83/, last visited November 9, 2017). Exactly one year later, Furmaniak posted
ArXaliv’s codebase on GitHub in case “one day [...] there are other people interested” (https://github.
com/rfurman/arxaliv, last visited November 9, 2017). In fact, the tool looked “defunct” to another math-
ematician on a blogpost dated November 12, 2013 and is presently no more available at the original
4.b.7. Selected Papers (https://selectedpapers.net/) was developed in 2013 by US computational biol-
ogist Christopher Lee (https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/the-selected-papers-network-
part-1/, dated June 7, 2013, last visited November 9, 2017; see also Lee’s blogpost https://johncarlosbaez.
wordpress.com/2013/07/12/the-selected-papers-network-part-3/,and); the project results to have
been supported by US mathemathical physicist John Carlos Baez. This tool, which enabled commenting
on ArXiv papers, had distinctive features among which using Google+authentication and seems to have
raised interest among researchers. In March 2016, anyway, Selected Papers resulted to be unaccessible,
as it’s still at present (a detailed documentation about it is still available at http://docs.selectedpapers.
net, last visited November 9, 2017). Due to this situation, and to Lee’s speciﬁc research area, a more
extensive account of this resource won’t be provided.
4.b.8. r/Xiv (https://www.reddit.com/r/Xiv/, last visited November 9, 2017) is “an interdisciplinary
reddit for discussing papers submitted to arXiv, an open-access journal for e-Prints.” It “aims to support
arXiv by providing an open forum for papers and by calling attention to great papers” (ibid.). Registered
users – 435 as at November 9, 2017 – can submit text posts or arXiv abstracts, and may receive comments
from other registered users. Deductively, r/Xiv made its debut in 2014. In March 2017, posts – which
can be upvoted – resulted to be fourty-seven, fourty-one of which were made in 2014, two in 2016,
four in 2017; 53,19% of them received one or more comments. 80,85% had a tag and these are in many
subﬁelds of physics, included astrophysics, though the great majority were in quantum physics. There
are two moderators, who appear to be active in quantum physics; only their nicknames are available and
apparently they can’t be contacted by non-members.
It can be noted that Reddit hosts further relevant subreddits, e.g. in cosmology and in astronomy, but
the discussions don’t appear to be based upon ArXiv papers.
4.b.9. ArXiv Analytics (http://arxitics.com/, last visited November 10, 2017) was developed in 2014
and is maintained by Chinese graduate student on high energy physics Zan Pan (Institute of Theoretical
Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences of Beijing). Collaboration and feedbacks was gained also from
other nations (https://github.com/arxitics/arxiv-analytics/network/members, last visited November 10,
This resource is deﬁned as “a set of projects [...]. As a ﬁrst project, [it is] a web portal that offers more
features and a better user interface for reading eprints provided by arXiv.org. You can search, subscribe,
bookmark, review eprints, and interact with the community. The project is still under development.”
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 383
ArXiv Analytics’ functions appear to be manifold, the main ones being: “advanced search interface
to ﬁnd articles” (includes sorting by “reader counts” or by “rating score”); conﬁgure eprint subscrip-
tions – e.g. by keywords, tags, authors; manage one’s preferences/activities in a personal account (e.g.
bookmarks, reading, rates, votes); post reviews and make comments; upload one’s original content that
has not been published online (under CC BY-SA 4.0 license; all data from http://arxitics.com/, visited
November 10, 2017), thus gaining twenty “reputation points” for each document (http://arxitics.com/
help/documents). The reputation system (http://arxitics.com/help/reputation) shows some apparent odd-
ity such as losing reputation points when rating an article or voting a review (−1 in each case, but +5
for publishing a new review); this is probably due to a value system that encourages sharing signiﬁcantly
(+20 for sharing a document) rather than judging on a small scale.
Thanks to Zan Pan’s courtesy we get to know that there were 295 registered users as at March 2017,
many of which are Chinese students; for them, ArXiv Analytics also provides a chat. The number of rated
papers is presently “less than 100” (the feature is still experimental). Users, including guest ones, have
been estimated to be “about 29.000 in total”.
4.b.10. Another tool which appears to have been tailored upon ArXiv in a web 2.0 environment was
ArQuiv (http://arquiv.org), which was presumably born in 2014. It was retrieved and visible on March
23, 2016 but no more available in March 2017, which is unchanged as at writing. Anyway, even more
than it happens with other similar tools, the information supplied on the website was poor for those
not registered, so that for example it was impossible to credit ArQuiv to its authors from the outside
otherwise than “arQiv.org has no afﬁliation with arXiv.org or Cornell University” – and the homepage
description was limited to: “arQiv.org: revolutionize scientiﬁc discussion by connecting readers and
authors. To discuss any arXiv article, just change “X”to“Q” to visit arQiv”. One of the ideas seemed to
be to modify the typical url of an ArXiv paper in order to enable commenting.
4.b.11. Benty Fields was created in 2015 by young physicist Florian Beutler and cosmologist Morag
Scrimgeour (http://www.benty-ﬁelds.com/, last visited November 11, 2017). On the homepage, the re-
source is described as “the academic network with daily papers and journal club organizer”. In fact it’s
more than this, as it allows registered users to read ArXiv papers, possibly through recommendations
built upon a machine learning algorithm trained by users’ past preferences; save papers in various cate-
gories through the “library option”; “vote for papers, to put them on the next journal club agenda; leave
comments or questions for papers; [...] start a journal club;” when using the search function, leave
comments, vote for the paper, add it to the library or recommend it to a colleague. All the functions,
as shown on the YouTube videos provided, offer manifold options. The accurate “job market” section
can be supplemented with deadline reminders (http://www.benty-ﬁelds.com/). A notable characteristic
is the tool’s social networking feature. The interface is agreeable and the tool is sophisticated enough to
The availability of an established and comprehensive database of open access literature in physics
and astrophysics such as ArXiv is likely to have fostered the birth of a signiﬁcant number of web 2.0
experiences in these research ﬁelds and may have shaped them as electively literature-based. This seems
to have happened rather early in some cases and anyway independently from ArXiv’s adoption of a web
2.0 setting. In this respect, the vision of ArXiv as a founding ground for physicists’ accreditation within
384 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
their community results to be appropriate, not so much as the elegant proposal of a database having a
legitimizing role for itself among physics researchers , but rather as an actual catalyst for web 2.0
scholarly exchanges within astrophysics and physics.
On the basis of the 2016 users survey, the ArXiv team appears now to be somehow mediating between
researchers’ “conservative” and still prevailing attitude, focussed on keeping the platform “to the core
mission”, and an emerging 2.0 trend which favours innovations such as rating and commenting on top of
it. The ArXiv-Next Generation initiative, whose development has only just started , might perhaps
mark the beginning of a change in this respect, for as much as it’s possible to understand at present.
As for the tools here surveyed, and again for as much as it has been possible to observe, their outcomes
appear to have been often affected by the physical limits of the local circles involved. For example, it
has been found repeatedly that researchers committed to a project didn’t know about the existence of
parallel efforts among other colleagues, or that the news about a project’s development didn’t circulate
well enough among interested people outside the circles – as witnessed by blog comments. An appar-
ently rare piece of research about extending ArXiv’s features to open peer-review and publishing 
doesn’t mention any of the ArXiv-based commenting resources for scholars which were already in place
by that time according to our ﬁndings. All this testiﬁes that, although obviously Internet-based, many
of these experiences were in fact very local level-dependent, at least during the ﬁrst years of their ex-
istence. All in all, actually, web 2.0 tools in astrophysics seem to have been strongly affected by local
circumstances, both for the good – e.g. motivation – and for the bad. In the latter category a ﬁrst-rate role
should be acknowledged to the fact that restricted scholarly communities can seldom provide the critical
mass for a new tool to take off, especially when validation features are involved. Shareably, the litera-
ture has remarked the crucial role of the critical mass as an essential driver for innovation in scholarly
communication practices (e.g.: [37,55]). Anyway, for those resources for which the data available seem
to be sufﬁcient, you can deduce that peaks of activity are reached approximately in the two years after
the debut. Platforms having prevailing functions other than paper commenting or rating show different
workﬂows and life spans (e.g.: ViXra, CosmoCoffee).
For a signiﬁcant part, the web 2.0 tools which have been accounted for above appear to have been
created in a few astrophysical circles, mainly located in the UK and in the USA; specially lively envi-
ronments have proven to be the University of Sussex and Harvard University. Following the academic
pathway of some of the creators of these tools, who sometimes were foreign students or researchers,
might contribute to the history of web 2.0 commenting platforms in astrophysics. This anyway goes
beyond the aim of the present study and is probably more appropriate for retrospective future research.
There are clues that this aspect, and the common local perspective, might be changing in the latest
years – approximately starting around 2012, e.g. with a stronger presence of multi-national develop-
ment teams. This might have to do with the diffusion of worldwide sharing platforms such as GitHub,
although this is a simple hypothesis. 2012 also seems to be the peak of one of the time ﬂows in which
the experiences surveyed seem to have debuted – which is in line with Peter Melchior’s remark as
expressed in a comment to mathematician Philip Thrift’s blogpost (“the internet seems to be bursting
these days with ideas about how to improve/replace peer review and classical journal. This is a very ex-
citing time. [...]”, http://occupypublishing.blogspot.it/2012/02/scientiﬁc-journals-in-e-publishing-age.
html, dated February 1, 2012; last visited November 12, 2017).
Other meaningful, though essential observations may concern how dedicated social media accounts
have been created for some of the platforms and resources surveyed, and “coupled” to them. Sufﬁcient,
reliable information about this was retrieved for 63,63% of the 22 main resources. Among these, Twitter
results to be the most used resource (45,15%; not all proﬁles are active), followed by Facebook (27,97%)
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 385
and by blogs (15.25%). A provisional account of their use exceeds the limits of the present study. Also
about intersections with social media, sharing buttons for posting papers to users’ proﬁles have been
provided by 11 out of the 14 resources for which information publicly available seemed to be sufﬁcient.
100% of these resources provide sharing to users’ proﬁles on Facebook; 81,81% to Twitter; 72,72% to
Google+, plus a variety of others (Mendeley, Reddit, Pinterest et al.). It is notable that ArXiv has been
providing the same service since April 2011 (https://arxiv.org/new#apr2011, for CiteUlike, Bibsonomy,
Mendeley, Reddit, ScienceWise and other nonmainstream social resources). The sensation for these
interlinks is that they aren’t a factor of success for the platforms per se.
As a ﬁnal remark, many of these resources clearly appear to have born in open-access-sensitive envi-
ronments (particularly, but not only: 4.b.2., 4.b.3. 4.b.4., 4.b.9., all the epijournals), which ﬂags socio-
cultural motivations for their creation and is often an indicator for the presence of young personalities
The author would like to thank for the information provided (in alphabetical order): Fabrizio Bocchino,
Peter Coles, Christian Gogolin (in the name of the Executive Board of “Quantum”), James Guillochon,
Antony Lewis, Peter Melchior, Martin Moyle, Zan Pan, Panayota Polydoratou, Oya Rieger.
 V. Aman, The potential of preprints to accelerate scholarly communication. A bibliometric analysis based on selected jour-
nals [Internet], Humboldt University of Berlin, 2013, available from: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1306/1306.4856.
 M. Baez, A. Birukou, R. Chenu, M. Medo, N. Osman, D. Ponte et al., State of the Art in Scientiﬁc Knowledge Creation,
Dissemination, Evaluation and Maintenance [Internet], University of Trento, Trento, 2009, available from: http://eprints.
 A. Birukou, J. Rushton Wakeling, C. Bartolini, F. Casati, M. Marchese, K. Mirylenka et al., Alternatives to peer review:
Novel approaches for research evaluation, Front Comput Neurosci. 5(56) (2011), 1–12.
 F. Bocchino, J. Lopez-Santiago, F. Albacete-Colombo and N. Bucciantini, YouASTRO: A web-based bibliography man-
agement system with distributed comments and rating features for astrophysical ADS papers, in: Astronomical Data
Analysis Software and Systems XXI, 2012, pp. 889–892.
 A. Boldt, Extending ArXiv.org in order to achieve open peer review and publishing, J Sch Publ. 42(2) (2011), 238–242.
 J. Brown, An introduction to overlay journals [Internet], 2010, available from: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/19081/1/19081.
 J. Cartwright, Fledgling site challenges arXiv server, PhysicsWorld 22(7) (2009), available from: http://physicsworld.com/
 M. Cassella and L. Calvi, New journal models and publishing perspectives in the evolving digital environment, IFLA J.
36(1) (2010), 1–12. doi:10.1177/0340035209359559.
 CIBER University College London, Social Media and Research Workﬂow, Emerald Group Publishing, London, 2010,
available from: http://ciber-research.eu/download/20101111-social-media-report.pdf.
 P. Coles, A modest proposal – The open journal of astrophysics [blogpost on the Internet], 2012 [updated 2012 Jul 17;
cited 2017 Nov 9], available from: http://telescoper.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/a-modest-proposal-the-open-journal-of-
 P. Coles, The Open Journal is Open for Submissions [blogpost on the Internet], 2015 [updated 2015 Dec 22; cited 2017
Nov 9], available from: https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/the-open-journal-is-open-for-submissions/.
 P. Dall’Aglio, Peer-review and journal models [Internet], 2006, available from: arXiv:physics/0608307v1.
 A. Delfanti, Beams of particles and papers: How digital preprint archives shape authorship and credit, Soc Stud Sci. 46(4)
(2016), 629–645. doi:10.1177/0306312716659373.
386 M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources
 A. Fresco-Santalla and T. Hernández-Pérez, Current and evolving models of peer review, Ser Libr. 67(4) (2014), 373–398.
 J. Fry, Scholarly research and information practices: A domain analytic approach, Inf Process Manag 42(1) (2006), 299–
 J. Fry and S. Talja, The intellectual and social organization of academic ﬁelds and the shaping of digital resources, JInf
Sci. 33(2) (2007), 115–133. doi:10.1177/0165551506068153.
 S. Gass, Transforming scientiﬁc communication for the 21st century, Sci Technol Libr. 19(3–4) (2001), 3–18. doi:10.1300/
 A. Gentil-Beccot, S. Mele, A. Holtkamp, H.B. O’Connell and T.C. Brooks, Information resources in high-energy physics.
Surveying the present landscape and charting the future course, J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol. 60(1) (2009), 150–160. doi:10.
 P.E. Gibbs, A good year for ViXra, Prespacetime Journal. 4(1) (2013), 87–90.
 E. Gibney, Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum, Nature 530(7588) (2016), 117–118. doi:10.1038/
 P. Ginsparg, After dinner remarks, 14 October’94, APS Meeting at LANL [Internet], 1994, available from: http://journals.
 P. Ginsparg, First steps towards electronic research communication, Computers in Physics 8(4) (1994), 390–396. doi:10.
 P. Ginsparg, Can peer review be better focused?, Sci Technol Libr. 22(3–4) (2002), 5–17, available from: http://www.cs.
 P. Ginsparg, ArXiv at 20, Nature 476(7359) (2011), 145–147. doi:10.1038/476145a.
 D. Harley, S.K. Acord, S. Earl-Novell, S. Lawrence and C.J. King, Chapter 3: Astrophysics case study, in: Assessing
the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines,
D. Harley, S.K. Acord, S. Earl-Novell, S. Lawrence and C.J. King, eds, UC Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher
Education, Berkeley, 2010, pp. 138–206.
 S. Haustein, T.D. Bowman, K. Holmberg, I. Peters and V. Larivière, Astrophysicists on Twitter: An in-depth analysis
of tweeting and scientiﬁc publication behavior, Aslib J Inf Manag. 66(3) (2014), 279–296. doi:10.1108/AJIM-09-2013-
 S. Haustein, T.D. Bowman, B. Macaluso, C. Sugimoto and V. Larivière, Measuring Twitter activity of arXiv e-prints
and published papers, in: Altmetrics14 an ACM Web Science Conference 2014 Workshop, Bloomington, Indiana, 2014,
pp. 1–3. doi:10.6084/m9.ﬁgshare.1041514.
 S.M. Hitchcock, Perspectives in electronic publishing: Experiments with a new electronic journal model [Internet], PhD
thesis, University of Southampton, Electronics and Computer Science, 2002, available from: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/
 K. Holmberg, T.D. Bowman, S. Haustein and I. Peters, Astrophysicists’ conversational connections on Twitter, PLOS One
9(8) (2014), 1–13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106086.
 R.J. Knegjens, Paperscape [Internet], 2014 [updated 2017 May 4; cited 2017 Nov 9], available from: http://robjk.net/
 B. Kramer and J. Bosman, 400+Tools and innovations in scholarly communication [Internet], 2015, available from:
 C. Lee, Open peer review by a selected-papers network, Front Comput Neurosci. 6(1) (2012), 1–15.
 M. Marra, Professional social networks among Italian astrophysicists. Prospective changes in validation and dissemination
practices?, Inf Serv Use 35(4) (2015), 243–249.
 M. Marra, ArXiv-based commenting resources by and from astrophysicists and physicists: An initial survey, in: Expand-
ing Perspectives on Open Science: Communities, Cultures and Diversity in Concepts and Practices (ElPub 2017),L.Chan
and F. Loizides, eds, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 2017, pp. 100–117.
 M. Moyle and A. Lewis, RIOJA (Repository Interface to Journal Archives), Final report [Internet], 2008, available from:
 M. Nentwich and R. Koenig, Cyberscience 2.0. Research in the Age of Digital Social Networks, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt-
 C. Neylon and S. Wu, Article-level metrics and the evolution of scientiﬁc impact, PLoS Biol. 7(11) (2009), Article ID
 M. Nielsen, Doing science in the open, Phys World. 22(5) (2009), 30–35. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/22/05/38.
 M. Nielsen, The future of science [blogpost on the Internet], 2008 [updated 2008 Jul 17; cited 2017 Nov 9], available
from: http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/the-future-of-science- 2/.
 T. O’Reilly, What is web 2.0. Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software [Internet], 2005,
available from: http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web- 20.html.
M. Marra / Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources 387
 P. Polydoratou and M. Moyle, Exploring overlay journals: The RIOJA project, in: OAI5 CERN Workshop on Innovations
in Scholarly Communication [Internet], Geneva, 2007, available from: https://indico.cern.ch/event/5710/contributions/
 P. Polydoratou and M. Moyle, Exploring aspects of scientiﬁc publishing in astrophysics and cosmology: The views of
scientists, in: Metadata and Semantics Post-Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Metadata and Semantics
Research, MTSR 2007, Corfu Island in Greece, 1–2 October 2007, M.-A. Sicilia and M.D. Lytras, eds, Springer, New
York, 2008, pp. 179–190.
 P. Polydoratou and M. Moyle, Scientiﬁc journals, overlays and repositories: A case study of costs and sustainability issues,
in: Digital Libraries: Universal and Ubiquitous Access to Information, 11th International Conference on Asian Digital
Libraries, ICADL 2008, G. Buchanan, M. Masoodian and S.J. Cunningham, eds, Springer, Berlin, 2008, pp. 154–163.
 J. Priem and B.H. Hemminger, Decoupling the scholarly journal, Front Comput Neurosci. 6(2012), 19. doi:10.3389/
 R. Procter, R. Williams, J. Stuart, M. Poschen, A. Voss et al., If you build it, will they come? How researchers perceive
and use web 2.0 [Internet], London, 2010, available from: http://www.rin.ac.uk/system/ﬁles/attachments/web_2.0_screen.
 RIN (Research Information Network), Institute of Physics, Royal Astronomical Society, Collaborative yet indepen-
dent: Information practices in the physical sciences [Internet], 2011, available from: http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/
using-and-accessing-information- resources/physical-sciences-case- studies-use-and-discovery.
 O.Y. Rieger, J. Entwood, C. McLaren, S. Payette and G. Steinhart, arXiv Update – January 2017 [Internet], 2017, available
 O.Y. Rieger, G. Steinhart and D. Cooper, ArXiv@25: Key ﬁndings of a user survey [Internet], 2016, available from: http://
 S. Ritson, “Crackpots” and “active researchers”: The controversy over links between arXiv and the scientiﬁc blogosphere,
Soc Stud Sci. 46(4) (2016), 607–628. doi:10.1177/0306312716647508.
 M.A. Rodriguez, J. Bollen and H. Van de Sompel, The convergence of digital-libraries and the peer-review process, JInf
Sci. 32(2) (2006), 149–159. doi:10.1177/0165551506062327.
 I. Rowlands, D. Nicholas, B. Russell, N. Canty and A. Watkinson, Social media use in the research workﬂow, Learn Publ.
24(3) (2011), 183–195. doi:10.1087/20110306.
 J.W.T. Smith, The deconstructed journal: A new model for academic publishing, Learn Publ. 12(2) (1999), 79–91. doi:10.
 C. Sugimoto, S. Work, V. Larivière and S. Haustein, Scholarly use of social media and altmetrics: A review of the litera-
ture, J Assoc Inform Sci Technol. 68(9) (2017), 2037–2062. doi:10.1002/asi.23833.
 D. Taraborelli, Soft peer review: Social software and distributed scientiﬁc evaluation, in: Proceedings of the 8th Interna-
tional Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems (COOP’08), Carry-Le-Rouet, May 20–23, 2008, P. Hassanaly,
A. Ramrajsingh, D. Randall, P. Salembier and M. Tixier, eds, Institut d’Etudes Politiques D’Aix-en-Provence, Aix-en-
Provence, 2008, pp. 99–110.
 J.P. Tennant, J.M. Dugan, D. Graziotin, D.C. Jacques, F. Waldner, D. Mietchen et al., A multi-disciplinary perspective on
emergent and future innovations in peer review, F1000Research 6(2017), Article ID 1151. doi:10.12688/f1000research.