Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Vital resource should be open to all physicists

Putting control in the hands of a few can enforce orthodoxy and stifle innovative ideas.


Your News story “Rejected physicists instigate anti-arXiv site” (Nature 432, 428–429; 2004) reports a response from Paul Ginsparg, the founder of the preprint server, to criticisms of its publication policies. Ginsparg states that the rules governing who can and cannot publish are clearly stated on the site, and that the archive is designed for “communication among research professionals, not as a mechanism for outsiders to communicate to that community”.

The cases documented by myself and others on the ArchiveFreedom website show that there is more to the story.

The exclusion of particular individuals and particular ideas from arXiv appears to me to be deliberate. If a rule can be invoked in support, however tenuous the link, the rule is quoted; otherwise, submissions are simply ‘deleted as inappropriate’. For example, having stated that a very distinguished physicist's strong support of a submission carried no weight because this physicist “was not intimately familiar with the work in question”, the moderators simply ignored subsequent support from an endorser with publications on the same subject.

In another example, the moderators' response to the information that more than one eminent physicist had an interest in a subject that they wished to bar was: “We are always thrilled to hear when people find an avocation that keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.”

ArXiv has become a vital communicative resource for the physics community. The moderators' attitude to any challenge to conventional thinking is likely to result in the loss to science of important innovative ideas. Radical changes are required in the way the archive is administered.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Josephson, B. Vital resource should be open to all physicists. Nature 433, 800 (2005).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing