The interplay of preprints and journal articles in High-Energy Physics: a data-driven study.

Preprints have shaped scholarly communication in High-Energy Physics since more than half a century. Pioneering preprint servers and community-driven digital libraries created a unique ecosystem for information discovery and access in the discipline (as well as in Astronomy and, to some extent, branches of Economics and the Social Sciences). These infrastructures have long coexisted with academic journals, serving distinct needs in the spectrum from dissemination to certification. Recently some academic journals entirely ‘flipped’ to Open Access, modifying some of those roles. We report on the results of two data-driven studies to assess this coexistence, and complementarity.

First, leveraging information from the platform, we analyzed millions of citations to and from preprints and journal articles to study the effect of early availability of scientific information in citation patterns in the discipline.

Second, with the gracious help of and leading scholarly publishers, we compared downloads statistics to assess access patterns for ‘fresh’ and ‘archival’ material and how Open Access modifies researchers’ practices.

Those findings are particularly relevant in the current scenario of renewed attention to preprints as a medium for scholarly communication.