A framework for improving the accessibility of research papers on arXiv.org

Abstract:  The research content hosted by arXiv is not fully accessible to everyone due to disabilities and other barriers. This matters because a significant proportion of people have reading and visual disabilities, it is important to our community that arXiv is as open as possible, and if science is to advance, we need wide and diverse participation. In addition, we have mandates to become accessible, and accessible content benefits everyone. In this paper, we will describe the accessibility problems with research, review current mitigations (and explain why they aren’t sufficient), and share the results of our user research with scientists and accessibility experts. Finally, we will present arXiv’s proposed next step towards more open science: offering HTML alongside existing PDF and TeX formats. An accessible HTML version of this paper is also available at https://info.arxiv.org/about/accessibility_research_report.html 

Access is not the same as accessibility: A framework for making research papers truly open – arXiv.org blog

“arXiv has pioneered open access for more than 30 years by removing financial, institutional, and geographic barriers to research. No paywalls or fees, no login required for reading. This approach – which gives researchers maximum control over the release of their results and broad visibility – transformed the research process and launched the open access movement.

However, access is not the same as accessibility, which is the practice of ensuring access regardless of disability. The vast majority of research papers posted to any journal or platform do not meet basic accessibility standards.

In 2022, arXiv completed intensive user research with over 40 people to determine the extent of the problem, evaluate current mitigation efforts, and consider solutions. This work, informed by arXiv staff, accessibility experts, and arXiv readers and authors who use assistive technology, is posted on arXiv in PDF and HTML formats (arXivID: 2212.07286).

In extensive interviews, our research participants shared that finding research, reading it, preparing documents, and submitting work are all steps in the research process where people encounter barriers. In particular, interpreting math equations, figures, and charts is problematic.

Flexible content can help address these issues. Offering well-formatted HTML, alongside PDF and TeX source, will lead to critical accessibility gains. arXiv’s collaboration with ar5iv, which currently renders HTML for approximately 70% of arXiv papers, is a first step in this process. Next, we expect to reduce the error rate and add a link to HTML on arXiv abstract pages….”

New program director joins arXiv staff | arXiv.org blog

“arXiv is pleased to welcome Stephanie Orphan as program director.

Orphan brings extensive business development, operations expertise, and relationship management experience to the role of program director. She joins arXiv from Portico, a not-for-profit digital preservation service. As director of content preservation and publisher relations there, she ensured ongoing growth and sustainability by engaging with Open Access publishers, university presses, national libraries, and other organizations around the world. She also served on the board of directors of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association and is an active member of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

At arXiv, Orphan’s role spans administrative management, operational oversight, and implementation of arXiv’s short- and long-term strategic goals. She also serves as a liaison between arXiv, its advisors, and the international open access community. …”

Panel: Trends in Peer Review of Open Access Preprints

“Speed of research is a major feature of open access preprint platforms like arXiv – formal peer review can follow later after rapid distribution of results. However, as submissions to arXiv and other preprint servers have grown, many researchers are seeking new avenues for community feedback and peer review. At this panel discussion”, leaders in preprints and peer review will discuss current trends in virtual overlay journals, open peer reviews, and more.


Individual Award 2021 – Paul Ginsparg – Einstein Foundation Berlin

“Preprints have been shared in the physics community since the early 1950s but mostly among well established professors. Physicist Paul Ginsparg, who receives the Einstein Foundation’s Individual Award, set out to democratize access to scientific results. Today, his preprint server arXiv has spread to many other fields—and made science progress more efficient and fairer….”

Anti-Big Bang theory scientists face censorship by international journals- The New Indian Express

“Twenty-four astronomers and physicists from 10 countries including reputed astrophysicist Jayant V Narlikar of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics ®, Prof Sisir Roy of National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) and Prof Amitabha Ghosh of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) ® from India are among the scientists protesting the censorship of papers that are critical of the Big Bang hypothesis by the open pre-print website arXiv….”

Professor Ramin Zabih named arXiv faculty director | arXiv.org blog

“arXiv, the world’s leading open access research sharing platform, is pleased to welcome Professor Ramin Zabih as faculty director.

Zabih is a computer science professor at Cornell Tech and president and founder of the Computer Vision Foundation (CVF). His research focuses on computer vision and its applications, especially in medical imaging. He trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, and he has authored or coauthored more than 265 papers that have been cited more than 32,000 times….”

Librarians gain new insights into their researchers’ arXiv usage | arXiv.org blog

“Founded three decades ago, arXiv is now home to more than 2 million open access scholarly articles by researchers in disciplines ranging from computer science to economics.

With its ambitious mission to provide an open platform where researchers can share and discover new, relevant, and emerging science, arXiv’s popularity has continued to grow in recent years. In fact, in many fields of mathematics and physics, the majority of scientific papers are posted on arXiv prior to their publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

arXiv is hosted at Cornell University, with financial support from the Simons Foundation, other donors, and more than 200 member institutions.

New among the membership benefits that all institutions receive, is access to a personalized digital dashboard, containing an overview of the articles their researchers have posted on the platform. This is the first time submission data by institution — including subject category breakdown – has been offered to arXiv members.

To provide this information, arXiv is partnering with Scopus to optimize that publication data and increase institution’s visibility of their researcher contributions….”

‘The arXiv of the future will not look like the arXiv’ | Jeff Pooley

Alberto Pepe, Matteo Cantiello, and Josh Nicholson, in their arXiv paper calling on arXiv to overhaul itself:

Disclaimer: This article has originally been written and posted on Authorea, a collaborative online platform for technical and data-driven documents. Authorea is being developed to respond to some of the concerns with current methodology raised in this very piece, and as such is suggested as a possible future alternative to existing preprint servers.

The paper doesn’t mention that Authorea is owned by Atypon, which itself is a subsidiary of publishing oligopolist Wiley. All three authors are affiliated with the Wiley-owned platform.

Which begs the question: will the arXiv of the future be nonprofit?


The arXiv of the future will not look like the arXiv

Abstract:  The arXiv is the most popular preprint repository in the world. Since its inception in 1991, the arXiv has allowed researchers to freely share publication-ready articles prior to formal peer review. The growth and the popularity of the arXiv emerged as a result of  new technologies that made document creation and dissemination easy, and cultural practices where collaboration and data sharing were dominant. The arXiv represents a unique place in the history of research communication and the Web itself, however it has arguably changed very little since its creation.  Here we look at the strengths and weaknesses of arXiv in an effort to identify what possible improvements can be made based on new technologies not previously available. Based on this, we argue that a modern arXiv might in fact not look at all like the arXiv of today.

Disclaimer: This article has originally been written and posted on Authorea, a collaborative online platform for technical and data-driven documents. Authorea is being developed to respond to some of the concerns with current methodology raised in this very piece, and as such is suggested as a possible future alternative to existing preprint servers.

Preprint server removes ‘inflammatory’ papers in superconductor controversy | Science | AAAS

A debate over claims of room temperature superconductivity has now boiled over into the realm of scientific publishing. Administrators of arXiv, the widely used physics preprint server, recently removed or refused to post several papers from the opposing sides, saying their manuscripts include inflammatory content and unprofessional language. ArXiv has also banned one of the authors, Jorge Hirsch, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), from posting papers for 6 months.

CANADIAN INSTITUTIONS PLEDGE 268,750 EUROS TO ARXIV, REDALYC/AMELICA AND DSPACE – SCOSS – The Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services

“After their generous pledge in 2020, twenty-five members of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), have now committed to supporting all three infrastructures currently promoted by SCOSS in its third funding cycle. This is the first library consortium to pledge for the SCOSS third funding cycle infrastructures.

CRKN empowers researchers, educators, and society with greater access to the world’s research and Canada’s preserved documentary heritage, now and for future generations. CARL provides leadership on behalf of Canada’s research libraries and enhances capacity to advance research and higher education.Through this CARL-CRKN partnership, Canadian academic library support will total 104,500 Euros to arXiv, 98,250 Euros to Redalyc/AmeliCA, and 66,000 Euros to DSpace, for a combined total of 268,750 Euros over the next three years….”