Re: Elsevier's ChemWeb Preprint Archive

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 12:53:50 -0400

As noted in a few previous messages of mine, I'm interested in some of the
features of the Chemistry Preprint Server (CPS, see: (But, I have no connection with CPS, and
I'm not a chemist).

Yesterday (on May 28) I browsed through the CPS archive. Of the
earliest-posted preprints (a total of 32, posted in July or August 2000,
i.e. 9-10 months ago), I could identify 14/32 = 44% that have subsequently
been published (or, according to the authors, been accepted for
publication, or been published in part) in a "brand-name" journal. Of
these, 10/32 = 31% could already be found in the ISI Citation Databases.

Because of the relatively short interval (9-10 months) between the time
when these preprints were posted, and the time when I sought evidence of
subsequent publication, these percentages are very likely to be

I also checked, via the ISI Citation Databases, for one or more
publications by any of the authors or co-authors of the 32 preprints. I
could identify publications for 28/32 = 87.5%. So (like BMJ's ClinMed
NetPrints archive) the CPS preprint archive appears to have been used (at
least, initially) mainly by authors who have some previous track record of
publication in journals that are included in the ISI Citation Databases.

The CPS archive includes a feature that permits visitors to rate the
individual preprints on a 1-5 scale. Of the 32 preprints posted 9-10
months ago, 10 have been rated highly (a "4-star" rating; no "5-star"
ratings were noted). Of these 10, 6 have already been published, or
accepted for publication. This publication rate (60%, so far) is higher
than the rate (8/22 = 36%) for the 22 longest-posted preprints that have
been rated less highly.

But, because the sample size is small, this difference in publication
rates isn't statistically significant at the P = 0.05 level (Fisher's
Exact Test). At a later time, it will be of some interest to test again
the hypothesis that the rating scale may serve a somewhat useful
"impact-rating" function (in that the ratings may help readers to find
articles that may be more likely to be published in "brand-name"

The CPS archive also provides data about the number of views of each
individual preprint. Of the 32 longest-posted preprints, 17 received more
than 300 views. Of these 17, 9 can be identified as published, or accepted
for publication - a publication rate of 53%.

Although the publication rate for those that received less than 300 views
is 5/15 = 33%, this difference in publication rates is, again, not
statistically significant (because of the small sample size). So, again,
one may only conclude that the number of views might also serve a useful
"impact-rating" function - one that merits further attention at a later
date, when a larger sample size of early-posted preprints is available
(and especially, preprints that were posted at least a year previously).

Of course, it's possible that the 32 longest-posted preprints represent a
somewhat biased sample of the entire number of preprints that had been
posted to CPS before May 28, 2001 (a total of 226 preprints).

Please note that I'm not suggesting that the CPS preprint archive has no
flaws. One flaw is (IMHO) that it's a preprint archive (not a "true"
eprint archive), in that it appears to be intended for preprints only, not
for both preprints and postprints (where, for the postprints, the authors
have retained copyright). Although authors can, in the response section
of the CPS webpage that provides access to their preprints, post
information about the citation for the published version (a "sign-post"
function), this "sign-post" capability isn't integrated into the archive
as well as it is (for example) at the arXiv archive.

Another flaw (again, IMHO) is that it's not on the list of "Open Archives"
(at: So, the CPS
archive doesn't meet an "inter-operability" criterion.

In summary, the CPS archive seems to provide an interesting approach to an
"impact-rating" function. It does provide authors with at least some
possibility of a "sign-post" function. But, it isn't "inter-operable".
(So, it can't easily become part of an (envisioned) universal eprint

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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