ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

Enclaves of Anarchy: Preprint Sharing, 1940-1990

Stacy Suzanne Wykle
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, United States of America

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 4:00pm


The purpose of this paper is to provide a timeline of the gradual organization of preprint sharing and its consolidation as the preferred means of connection among scientists engaged at the forefront of increasingly narrower sub-specialties that emerged after World War II. At mid-century, the flood of research that scientific journals faced created a burden on the traditional publication. The social dynamics involved in the production of high energy physics research, in particular, proved to be the main arena of scientific communication that contributed to the advent of preprint exchange as an alternate system of publication during the 20th century. Increasing sophistication of information and communication technology relative to cost and convenience of use were factors that ultimately led to the online deployment of arXiv in 1991. The history of preprint sharing in scientific publishing is a relatively unexplored area of study, and subserves the larger need to understand the immediate circumstances surrounding the move to digital publication by scientific journals. In particular, the challenge presented by preprint sharing to the formal system of peer review that print journals have traditionally offered has been an over-riding concern.