2012 was a good year for viXra so this is a good moment to provide some statistics.
This blog passed the 1 million view mark in December which is not bad considering the low posting rate and the length of time it has been running. Thank you all for your support.
Apart from the blog, the main part of viXra is the pre-print archive which we started in 2009 for scientists and mathematicians who experienced problems submitting to other archives such as arXiv. Since then it has gone from strength to strength as shown in this plots of paper upload and download counts. We now have over 4000 pre-prints online.
Uploads include papers from sciprint.org which was a similar archive that ran from 2007 until 2009 when viXra began in July 2009. The download stats have been filtered to remove indexing robots and multiple downloads of the same paper from the same IP address.
As you can see we had a record number of uploads in 2012 and downloads have been doubling year-on-year. This year by popular request we also started showing download statistics for individual papers with counts backdated from out logs. These can be viewed on the abstract pages. Our rival arXiv only provides a long list of excuses why they don’t provide a similar feature.
For those not familiar with viXra and those who don’t get what it is about, here are some bullet points:
- viXra was created in 2009 for scientists who have issues submitting to other preprint repositories such as arXiv
- It is run by its administrators independently of any organisation.
- All submissions are free and unconditional. The site is funded by adverts (we no longer accept donations but thanks to all the past donors)
- It is viXra policy to accept all submissions of scientific research.
- We very occasionally reject submissions which contain personal attacks, adult material, too much repetition, copyright violations etc., but never because we disagree with the content.
- We only accept works of science and mathematics. If you have works of literature, art, politics etc, there are other places to publish them.
- Acceptance of papers into viXra does not indicate any kind of endorsement or bestow any credibility or lack of credibility.
- The sole purpose of viXra is to provide open access to scientific works with permanent links for reference and time-stamped records of version changes to allow for verification of priority.
- viXra is not a peer-reviewed journal and as a mater of policy the administrators refuse all requests for feedback on submitted work.
- Authors retain copyright and can also submit papers to journals for peer-review.
- Each abstract page has a comment feature that anyone can use to provide feedback. Very few comments are deleted and never just because they are critical.
- Most authors who submit to viXra are independent researchers who cannot submit to arXiv because of their endorsement policy that makes it impossible to submit if you do not have academic contacts willing to vouch for you. Potential arXiv endorsers are often unwilling to help outsiders because the arXiv threatens to remove their endorsement rights if they endorse work deemed inappropriate by the arXiv moderators.
- viXra also contains work from people who are not independent of academic institutions. Some of them have found that they have problems with arXiv administrators who often move research that they don’t like to generic categories (e.g. general physics and general maths) In these categories you cannot normally cross-post to other categories and many indexing sites ignore them. The purpose of these categories seem to be to make unpopular research hard to find.
- Despite the open censorship of scientific research most academics support the arXiv endorsement and moderation policies and believe that it only filters out research of no scientific value.
- Although a significant number of papers in viXra are of low quality there are also many papers that have been accepted in peer-reviewed journals (estimated at 15% in one independent survey)
- Our comparison of essays by viXra authors submitted to the 2012 FQXi essay contest which were independently rated, showed that the distribution of scores was similar to the overall distribution from all authors of which about a third were professional scientists who submit to arXiv.
- Most papers that go against mainstream science are indeed as crazy as they seem, but there are numerous cases in the history of science where work was heavily criticized at first but later turned out to be right. viXra provides a place where any controversial work can be recorded and made available no matter where else it is rejected from. Even if such cases are very rare viXra would provide a service of value to science in this way.
- Science does not just progress in giant revolutionary steps and viXra also contains many ordinary works of everyday science that find it hard to get published or accepted into other repositories.
- Even research which contains many errors can nevertheless contain useful insights too. A good example from history was the work of Georg Ohm which was based on a very poor understanding of theoretical physics. Nevertheless it also contained a report of careful experiments that established Ohm’s law. Even papers that are seen to have many errors are worth keeping publically available in case they also have valuable ideas.
- Even if many papers on viXra turn out to have little scientific value, at viXra we believe that everyone should be encouraged to think for themselves and be given the opportunity to learn by their mistakes. It is also the case that you can never predict what crazy idea may inspire someone else to think of something else of real value.
- viXra is not “a way round peer-review” which is an important part of scientific evaluation. However, some scientists now agree that peer-review and publication should be formally separated. Traditional peer-review is often seen as flawed because of the role of publishing houses often motived by business interests. despite much discussion scientists and mathematicians have so far failed to implement a viable alternative to peer-review controlled by journals.
- One other way to access the value of papers over time is by looking at citations. Sadly viXra is now censored by all services that count citations such as Google Scholar, InspireHEP, CiteSeer etc., so it is impossible to evaluate viXra papers this way unless they are also published elsewhere.
- Despite the opposition from institutional science, we at viXra are encouraged by the support from our authors and will allow future historians to be our judge.