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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2001
DOI:10.5062/F4V122RN

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[Refereed article]

The Coming of Age of E-Prints in the Literature of Physics

Cecelia Brown, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Studies
cbrown@ou.edu

Funded by the Faculty Research Initiative Fund of the University of Oklahoma Libraries.

Abstract

Examination of the role of e-prints in physics literature was conducted by citation analysis. Two databases were analyzed. Citation analysis was performed on e-prints from the Los Alamos e-print archive, arXiv.org, using the Stanford Public Information Retrieval System's High Energy Physics (SPIRES-HEP) and the Institute for Scientific Information's SciSearch databases. The SPIRES-HEP data represents citations to e-prints by e-prints while SciSearch data represents citations to e-prints by journal articles. Citations from 1991 to 1999 were examined. E-prints in the SPIRES-HEP database were cited approximately 10 times each by other e-prints, while those found in SciSearch were cited approximately 0.5 times each by journal articles. Despite this difference, the citation patterns were similar for both e-prints and journal articles. The citation rate by both e-prints and journals was highest from the high energy particle physics archives. The data from SPIRES-HEP indicates that e-prints are used to a greater extent by physicists than previously measured and that e-prints have become an integral and valid component of the literature of physics.

Introduction

Traditionally physicists have been innovators in methods of scholarly communication; they have used preprints for over thirty years. A preprint is a manuscript that may appear in a peer-reviewed journal and is typically the earliest form of publicly available research. The introduction of the Los Alamos National Laboratory's electronic archive of physics preprints (http://arxiv.org/) in 1991 created their electronic equivalent, the e-print (http://xxx.lanl.gov/). Physicists have become increasingly dependent upon the rapid and immediate access to e-prints afforded by arXiv.org. This is despite the dominance of peer-reviewed journal articles in scientific communication.

Examination of the weekly connections made to arXiv.org illustrates the growth and importance of e-prints. The number has grown from approximately 300,000 connections per week in July of 1997 to 832,966 connections during the third week of January 2001 ("arXiv.org web server statistics" 2000). These connections are a central component of the cycle of scientific communication as evidenced by their increasing rate of citation in conventional scientific journals (Youngen 1998a, 1998b; Brown 2001). Nonetheless, e-prints have not usurped the role of traditional publications (Brown 2001).

Recently several, sometimes heated, postings have appeared on PAMNET, the discussion list of the Special Libraries Association Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics Division ("astro-ph eprints replace journals" 2000). Also, several articles have been published regarding the efficacy of e-prints in the literature of physics (Boyce 2000; Dessy 2000; Langer 2000). It is therefore suspected that the role of e-prints in the communication of physicists is greater than earlier studies have indicated. Indeed, previous studies (Youngen 1998a, 1998b; Brown 2001) that used the Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI) SciSearch to analyze the citation rate of e-prints by journal articles lack data about the use of e-prints in the daily work of scientists. One way to discern this facet of scholarly communication is to examine the citation rate of e-prints by other e-prints. This can be ascertained from the Stanford Public Information Retrieval System's database of high-energy particle physics literature (SPIRES-HEP). Such analysis would yield a better indication of the use of e-prints by physicists in their scholarly communications.

The present study compares and contrasts the citation patterns of e-prints in 12 arXiv.org archives in both the SPIRES-HEP and ISI's SciSearch databases.

Methods

The Databases

Citation analysis of e-prints by e-prints was conducted using the SPIRES-HEP database. SciSearch was used to analyze the citation pattern of journal articles to e-prints. The SPIRES-HEP database is freely available on the Internet ( http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/hep/). It is managed by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and is a collaboration of SLAC, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, Hamburg, Germany; KEK, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, Tsukuba, Japan; the University of Durham, England; and Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University, Tsukuba, Japan. SciSearch was accessed via Thompson's DialogWeb (http://www.dialogweb.com/).

The citation data from the SPIRES-HEP database represents the total number of citations by e-prints to other e-prints plus any resultant journal articles, if one becomes published. This is the result of SPIRES-HEP coupling the bibliographic details for the journal article with the originating e-print's record. SciSearch does not automatically link subsequent journal articles to their original e-prints therefore further searching was required in SciSearch to find citations to subsequent published journal articles.

Citation Rates

To determine the rate of citation by e-prints and journals to e-prints, 12 arXiv.org archives from 1991 to 1999 containing a total of 70,144 e-prints were studied. The abbreviations used for each archive and the year each was established are listed in Table I. The "find e-print" command and the citation summary format were used in SPIRES-HEP database to find the number of citations to e-prints by e-prints (Figures 1 and 2). The citation rates by SPIRES-HEP were calculated by dividing the total number of citations in SPIRES-HEP by the total number of e-prints appearing in SPIRES-HEP. The citations to e-prints by journals were found using the "cited work" command in SciSearch. The citation rates for journals from SciSearch were calculated by dividing the total number of citations to e-prints in SciSearch by the total number of e-prints appearing in arXiv.org. The citation rates were calculated in this manner as the SPIRES-HEP citations are confined to e-prints appearing within the database and not all of the e-prints that appear in arXiv.org appear in the SPIRES-HEP database. In contrast, the SciSearch citations are not confined to a particular set of e-prints and are therefore potentially drawn from the entire arXiv.org holdings.

Table I
arXiv.org Archives Studied
Topic Abbreviation Year Established
Astrophysics astro-ph 1992
Condensed Matter cond-mat 1992
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology gr-qc 1992
High Energy Physics - Experiment hep-ex 1994
High Energy Physics - Lattice hep-lat 1991
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology hep-ph 1992
High Energy Physics - Theory hep-th 1991
Mathematical Physics math-ph 1995
Nuclear Experiment nucl-ex 1994
Nuclear Theory nucl-th 1992
Physics physics 1994
Quantum Physics quant-ph 1994

[Citation summary search in the SPIRES-HEP database]
[Results from a citation summary search in the SPIRES-HEP 
database]>

Highly Cited E-Prints

To compare the citation pattern of e-prints and journals to e-prints, the five most highly cited e-prints from each archive were discerned using the "topcite" command and the citation format in the SPIRES-HEP database (Figures 3 and 4). Top cited papers are considered by SPIRES-HEP to be those that were cited by other e-prints 50 times or more, however not all the archives were found to have five e-prints that had been cited more than 50 times. In these cases, the most highly cited e-prints were discerned by examining the citation list yielded after a "find e-print" command. The "cited work" command in SciSearch was then used again to discover the number of citations to each highly cited e-print as well as the number of citations to any subsequent journal articles.

[Example of a Topcite citation search in the SPIRES-HEP 
database]
[Results of an example of a Topcite citation search in 
the SPIRES-HEP database]

Results

Citation Rates

Tables II and III show the number of e-prints, the number of citations, and the citation rates to the arXiv.org e-prints from 1991 to 1999. Overall fewer e-prints appear in SPIRES-HEP than are deposited in arXiv.org and the discrepancy is the greatest for the astro-ph, cond-mat, math-ph, nucl-ex, and physics archives. The number of e-prints in the remaining archives is similar in both SPIRES-HEP and arXiv.org and illustrates SPIRES-HEP's emphasis on e-prints in the areas of high energy particle physics. Despite the smaller number of e-prints, the number of citations to e-prints from arXiv.org was found to be greater by the e-prints in SPIRES-HEP than the journals in SciSearch. The number of citations in SPIRES-HEP reached approximately 700,000 while that in SciSearch was approximately 50,000. Therefore the citation rate by e-prints to e-prints was found to be 20 times greater than the citation rate by journal articles to e-prints.

Table II
SPIRES-HEP Citation Rates to arXiv.org E-Prints from 1991-1999
Archive Number of E-Prints in SPIRES-HEP Number of SPIRES-HEP Citations Citation Rate
astro-ph 8194 35636 4.3
cond-mat 1058 2325 2.2
gr-qc 6182 45798 7.4
hep-ex 1787 25957 14.5
hep-lat 3902 39325 10.1
hep-ph 22865 305080 13.3
hep-th 18968 242730 12.8
math-ph 169 161 0.95
nucl-ex 433 3894 9
nucl-th 4621 29884 6.5
physics 497 847 1.7
quant-ph 3278 4067 1.2
TOTAL 70144 699981 10

Table III
SciSearch Citation Rates to arXiv.org E-Prints from 1991-1999
Archive Number of E-Prints in arXiv.org Number of SCI Citations Citation Rate
astro-ph 19623 4852 0.25
cond-mat 20259 6881 0.34
gr-qc 6185 2874 0.46
hep-ex 1790 1170 0.65
hep-lat 3901 2092 0.54
hep-ph 22824 12827 0.56
hep-th 19478 16133 0.83
math-ph 618 116 0.19
nucl-ex 665 264 0.4
nucl-th 4727 1713 0.36
physics 1842 124 0.07
quant-ph 3794 1740 0.46
TOTAL 105706 50786 0.5

The e-prints from the four high energy particle archives received the highest number of citations by both e-prints and journal articles. SPIRES-HEP e-prints cited e-prints from the hep-ph archive to the greatest extent (13.3 citations per e-print) while journals indexed in SciSearch cited e-prints from the hep-th archive at the highest level (0.83 citations per e-print). Altogether the ranking of the citation rates among the 12 archives was found to be similar by e-prints and journal articles, with the exception of the quant-ph archive. The quant-ph archive was cited at the second lowest rate by SPIRES-HEP e-prints but tied for fifth with the gr-qc archive in citations by journals in SciSearch. The size of the archive was not found to dictate the citation rate in either database. The hep-ex database was one of the smallest studied (approximately 1,790 e-prints), yet received the second greatest number of citations by both e-prints and journal articles during the period investigated. Although the citation rates were much greater by e-prints to e-prints than by journal articles to e-prints, the citation patterns were similar.

Highly Cited E-Prints

Table IV compiles the number of top cited e-prints observed in SPIRES-HEP for the 12 archives studied. The pattern of top cited e-prints resembles the citation rate patterns described in Tables II and III and further highlights the importance of e-prints to the high energy particle physics community. The high energy particle archives contained the greatest number of papers that were cited 50 times or more by other e-prints. Specifically, the hep-th archive was found to have 14 e-prints that had been cited more than 500 times by other e-prints during 1991 to 1999, while the hep-ph archive had the greatest total number of top cited e-prints (1,326). The math-ph archive was not found to have any top cited papers, suggesting a low importance of mathematics e-prints to the users of the SPIRES-HEP database.

Table IV
Top Cited E-prints from arXiv.org from 1991-1999 by SPIRES-HEP
Archive Renowned Papers (>500 cites) Famous Papers (100-499 cites) Well-Known Papers (50-99 cites) TOTAL
astro-ph 0 31 77 108
cond-mat 0 0 3 3
gr-qc 0 18 67 85
hep-ex 3 39 69 111
hep-lat 1 33 83 117
hep-ph 3 320 1003 1326
hep-th 14 297 651 962
math-ph 0 0 0 0
nucl-ex 0 5 3 8
nucl-th 0 10 52 62
physics 0 1 0 1
quant-ph 0 0 1 1
TOTAL 21 754 2009 2784

Tables V through XII compare the number of citations by e-prints and journal articles to the most frequently cited e-prints as designated by the SPIRES-HEP database. The number of times e-prints cited these important e-prints exceeded the number of times they were cited by journal articles. These data complement the data in Tables II and III illustrating that e-prints cite e-prints to a much greater extent than do journal articles and that SciSearch citation analysis underestimates the importance of e-prints in the literature of physics. However, when examining the number of citations to the subsequent journal articles by journal articles (data in parentheses), the number of citations become more equalized.

Table V
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 astro-ph E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9303019 Andrew R. Liddle, David H. Lyth,
Phys.Rept.231:1-105,1993.
319 0 (297)
9805201 Adam G. Riess et al.,
Astron. J.116:1009-1038,1998.
283 42 (262)
9601067 C.L. Bennett et al.,
Astrophys. J.464:L1-L4,1996.
258 6 (296)
9812133 S. Perlmutter et al.,
Astrophys. J.517:565-586,1999.
257 38 (143)
9311057 J.A. Peacock, S.J. Dodds,
Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc.267:1020-1034,1994.
255 1 (333)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table VI
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 cond-mat E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9707301 Thomas Guhr, Axel Muller-Groeling, Hans A. Weidenmuller,
Phys. Rep. 299:189-425, 1998.
61 11 (155)
9607135 W.H. Zurek,
Phys. Rep. 276:177-221, 1996.
55 1 (60)
9512117 V.M.H. Ruutu et al.,
Nature 382:334,1996.
53 0 (73)
9511104 E. Brezin, S. Hikami, A. Zee,
Nucl.Phys.B464:411-448,1996.
42 2 (41)
9211006 Hans Gerd Evertz, Gideon Lana, Mihai Marcu,
Phys.Rev.Lett.70:875-879,1993.
33 0 (109)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table VII
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 gr-qc E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9302012 Maximo Banados, Marc Henneaux, Claudio Teitelboim,
Phys.Rev.D48:1506-1525,1993.
305 5 (254)
9310026 G. 't Hooft,
Salamfest 1993:0284-296 (QCD161:C512:1993)
207 73 (29)
9411005 Carlo Rovelli, Lee Smolin,
Nucl.Phys.B442:593-622,1995., Erratum-ibid.B456:753,1995.
185 2 (173)
9409013 S.W. Hawking, Gary T. Horowitz, Simon F. Ross,
Phys.Rev.D51:4302-4314,1995.
166 3 (151)
9210010 Murray Gell-Mann, James B. Hartle,
Phys. Rev.D47:3345-3382,1993.
164 0 (1461)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table VIII
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 E-Prints from the Four High Energy Physics Archives by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
Archive & E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
hep-ex
9807003 Y. Fukuda et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.81:1562-1567,1998.
892 45 (509)
9503002 F. Abe et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett. 74:2626-2631,1995.
829 0 (579)
9503003 S. Abachi et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.74:2632-2637,1995.
796 0 (512)
9405005 F. Abe et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.73:225-231,1994.
440 0 (313)
9711002 M. Apollonio et al.,
Phys.Lett.B420:397-404,1998.
426 39 (225)
hep-lat
9209022 G.Peter Lepage, Paul B. Mackenzie,
Phys.Rev.D48:2250-2264,1993.
535 0 (55)
9206013 David B. Kaplan,
Phys.Lett.B288:342-347,1992.
256 0 (186)
9205007 G.Peter Lepage, Lorenzo Magnea, Charles Nakhleh, Ulrika Magnea, Kent Hornbostel,
Phys.Rev.D46:4052-4067,1992.
233 0 (630)
9707022 Herbert Neuberger,
Phys.Lett.B417:141-144,1998.
207 5 (121)
9304012 G.S. Bali et al.,
Phys.Lett.B309:378-384,1993.
189 1 (186)
hep-ph
9803315 Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Gia Dvali,
Phys.Lett.B429:263-272,1998.
662 25 (353)
9606399 H.L. Lai et al.,
Phys.Rev.D55:1280-1296,1997.
565 7 (345)
9804398 Ignatios Antoniadis, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, Gia Dvali,
Phys.Lett.B436:257-263,1998.
503 26 (265)
9410404 H.L. Lai et al.,
Phys.Rev.D51:4763-4782,1995.
499 2 (321)
9306320 Matthias Neubert,
Phys.Rept.245:259-396,1994.
484 0 (430)
hep-th
9711200 Juan Maldacena,
Adv.Theor.Math.Phys.2:231-252,1998.
1526 308 (688)
9407087 N. Seiberg, E. Witten,
Nucl.Phys.B426:19-52,1994., Erratum-ibid.B430:485-486,1994.
1204 32 (982)
9802150 Edward Witten,
Adv.Theor.Math.Phys.2:253-291,1998.
1136 237 (537)
9503124 Edward Witten,
Nucl.Phys.B443:85-126,1995.
1038 48 (733)
9802109 S.S. Gubser, I.R. Klebanov, A.M. Polyakov,
Phys.Lett.B428:105-114,1998.
1035 151 (563)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table IX
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 math-ph E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9903028 Romeo Brunetti, Klaus Fredenhagen,
Commun. Math. Phys. 208:623-661, 2000.
16 2 (1)
9805026 Detlev Buchholz, Olaf Dreyer, Martin Florig, Stephen J. Summers,
Rev. Math. Phys. 12:475-560, 2000.
9 6 (1)
9807006 J. Frohlich, O. Grandjean, A. Recknagel,
Commun. Math. Phys. 203:119-184, 1999.
9 1 (5)
9807026 A. Opfermann, G. Papadopoulos,
DAMTP-1998-93 (Jul 1998) 33p.
6 1 (0)
9901012 S.P. Hrabak,
not published.
5 2 (0)
9809003 B. Schroer, H.W. Wiesbrock,
Rev. Math. Phys. 12:139-158, 2000.
5 1 (9)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table X
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 E-Prints from the Two Nuclear Archives by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
Archive & E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
nucl-ex
9605003 C. Athanassopoulos et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.77:3082-3085,1996.
412 0 (272)
9504002 C. Athanassopoulos et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.75:2650-2653,1995.
346 3 (251)
9709006 C. Athanassopoulos et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.81:1774-1777,1998.
294 13 (145)
9605001 C. Athanassopoulos et al.,
Phys.Rev.C54:2685-2708,1996.
191 2 (141)
9706006 C. Athanassopoulos et al.,
Phys. Rev. C58 2489-2511, 1998.
170 28 (56)
nucl-th
9408016 Wiringa, V.G.J. Stoks, R. Schiavilla,
Phys.Rev.C51:38-51,1995.
194 0 (212)
9406039 V.G.J. Stoks, R.A.M. Klomp, C.P.F. Terheggen, J.J. de Swart,
Phys.Rev.C49:2950-2962,1994.
191 1 (219)
9504025 G.Q. Li, C.M. Ko, G.E. Brown,
Phys.Rev.Lett.75:4007-4010,1995.
160 3 (162)
9410026 P. Braun-Munzinger, J. Stachel, J.P. Wessels, N. Xu,
Phys.Lett.B344:43-48,1995.
155 0 (171)
9508020 P. Braun-Munzinger, J. Stachel, J.P. Wessels, N. Xu,
Phys.Lett.B365:1-6,1996.
138 0 (135)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table XI
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 physics E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9711021 Gary J. Feldman, Robert D. Cousins,
Phys.Rev.D57:3873-3889,1998.
149 0 (93)
9805038 U. Mohideen, Anushree Roy,
Phys.Rev.Lett.81:4549-4552,1998.
41 1 (43)
9901022 Charles M. Ankenbrandt et al.,
Phys.Rev.ST Accel.Beams 2:081001,1999.
34 0 (16)
9702008 J. Barrette et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.78:2916-2919,1997.
26 0 (26)
9709045 Joseph C. Varilly,
not published.
19 5 (0)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

Table XII
Number of Citations to Top Cited 1991-1999 quant-ph E-Prints by SPIRES-HEP and SciSearch
E-Print Number Reference Number of Times cited in SPIRES-HEP1 Number of Times Cited in SciSearch2
9604024 Charles H. Bennett, David P. DiVincenzo, John A. Smolin,
Phys.Rev.A54:3824-3851,1996.
55 8 (220)
9511027 Charles H. Bennett et al.,
Phys.Rev.Lett.76:722-725,1996.
35 0 (164)
9511008 Q.A. Turchette, C.J. Hood, W. Lange, H. Mabuchi, H.J.
Phys.Rev.Lett.75:4710-4713,1995.
34 0 (218)
9604033 John R. Klauder,
Ann. Phys. (N.Y.) 254:419-453. 1997.
32 2 (20)
9808031 B.G. Sidharth,
Int. J. Mod. Phys. A13:2599-2612, 1998.
26 0 (13)
9808020 B.G. Sidharth,
Indian J.Pure Appl.Phys.35:456-471,1997.
26 0 (10)
1Value represents citations in SPIRES-HEP to e-print before and after publication.
2Value in parentheses represents the number of times the published paper was cited in SciSearch.

This is not entirely surprising, as the SPIRES-HEP citation data not only represent the number of citations by e-prints to other e-prints but also to any resultant articles. Yet even when taking this equalization into account, the SciSearch citation data still underestimates the importance of the highly cited e-prints in the high energy particle physics archives (Table VIII). The number of citations by journal articles to the highly cited e-prints and papers from both the hep-ex and hep-th archives, and to a lesser extent to the hep-lat and hep-ph e-prints, were less than those gleaned from SPIRES-HEP. These data further illustrate the particular importance of e-prints to the high energy particle community. Similarly, the number of SciSearch citations were less than those from SPIRES-HEP for the most highly cited works in the nucl-ex archive (Table X). In contrast, the number of SciSearch citations to the quant-ph e-prints and their resultant articles was much greater than those counted with SPIRES-HEP (Table XII) suggesting the lack of significance of quantum physics material to the SPIRES-HEP community.

Discussion

This investigation provides evidence that e-prints are an integral component of the scholarly communication of physicists. This was especially shown to be the case for the area of high energy particle physics. The magnitude of importance is perhaps even greater than reported as the data collected from the SPIRES-HEP database are likely to be an underestimation. This underestimation occurs for two reasons (Krietz 2000). First, references are only added to the SPIRES-HEP database from the first version of an e-print and therefore any subsequent additions of e-print citations to revisions of the work are not counted. The second reason for the underestimation is that SPIRES-HEP does not include all of science and therefore the number of citations to e-prints in other scientific areas is not included in the data presented.

The current results also show that previous studies using SciSearch for citation analysis (Youngen 1998a, 1998b; Brown 2001) under report the level of the use and importance of e-prints to physicists because they only measure the use of e-prints by the journal literature and not the e-print literature. Citations to e-prints by journal articles were exhibited by these studies to have grown over the past decade, but the present study shows that their real significance is anchored in the routine use of the SPIRES-HEP database. This is compounded by the observation that scientists here and abroad are virtually replacing regular journal reading with daily consultation of arXiv.org (Brown 1999; Cho 2000).

This study particularly highlights the importance of e-prints to high energy particle physicists. This microcosm within the physics community appears to be unique in its quest for up-to-the-minute research findings and in its willingness to share data before it has undergone the time honored peer review process. The finding that the reliance on e-prints by scientists in other fields of physics was not as great leads to the question of why high energy particle physicists are more apt to use e-prints than are other physicists. Other scientists, most notably those in the life sciences, are concerned with the lack of quality control in e-prints as compared to peer reviewed publications (Butler 1999; Delamothe et al. 1999; "EMBO" 1999; Glaze 1999; Marshall 1999a, 1999b; "Would you use" 1999). This does not appear to be an issue to high energy particle physicists as they may strive to post only well-confirmed and accurate information to avoid embarrassment from the dissemination of incorrect or misleading data (Cho 2000). This self-monitoring, informal peer review by the high energy particle community ensures that the quality of their e-prints is of high caliber thereby validating the importance of e-prints in the cycle of scholarly communication.

Despite the many advantages of e-prints including: immediate; modifiable; updateable; inexpensive; unlimited size, their use has yet to overtake that of traditional journals (Brown 2001). This may be a result of the policy of many journal editors and publishers disallowing manuscripts already published electronically (Harter and Park 2000; Brown 2001; Wilkinson 2001). In parallel, Harter (1998) found that electronic journals, which possess the same advantageous qualities as e-prints, plus the added bonus of peer-review, have not yet made a significant impact on printed journal usage. Nonetheless, many agree with Boyce (2000) that "preprint servers are here to stay" as evidenced by their growth in other scientific disciplines (Koenig 2000; McConnell and Horton 1999; Eysenbach 2000). In fact, even though chemists are leery of the e-print mode of communication ("Should research be" 2000), in the summer of 2000 Chemical Abstracts Service announced plans to index e-prints ("CAS will now " 2000) and Elsevier launched its own free chemistry e-print server ("The Chemistry Preprint Server" 2000). The Elsevier Chemistry Preprint Server now has 120 papers covering ten areas of chemistry ranging from analytical to macromolecular to physical. It is likely that many other disciplines will follow suit and adopt their own versions of electronic prepublication.

This investigation also illustrates the utility of the SPIRES-HEP database to physical science librarians as well as to scientists. For physicists, SPIRES-HEP is an extremely easy to use database for locating the most recent research directly on their desktop computer. For librarians and information specialists the citation summary and topcite features coupled with an excellent search engine provide invaluable data about the trends in the fields of physics. The free availability of SPIRES-HEP on the Internet enhances the utility several fold. SPIRES-HEP, as well as its counterpart, arXiv.org, have become indispensable tools for physical science librarians.

The Future of E-Prints

This study confirms that e-prints have come of age in the literature of physics. It now remains a question of when scholars, editors, and publishers in other disciplines will emulate this fast and efficient mode of scholarly communication. The story of physics e-prints however does not end here. Paul Ginsparg, the founder of arXiv.org, is continuing to look to the future by setting the framework for a universal preprint archive for open and cooperative sharing of data via the Open Archives Initiative (2000). This proposed global e-print depository would be well worth watching, as it will undoubtedly move electronic scientific scholarly communication father forward than it stands today.

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