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Contact details
Prof. Stevan Harnad, Director,
Cognitive Sciences Centre, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton
Phone: 01703 592582 Fax: 01703 594597

Mr Matthew Hemus, Programmer,
Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton
Phone: 01703 595478 Fax: 01703 594597

Ms Vanessa Oliver, Project Administrator,
Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton
Phone: 01703 592234 Fax: 01703 594597

Project description

as of May 7th 1997


The CogPrints Archive is an attempt to generalise to the Cognitive Sciences(and eventually to all learned disciplines) Paul Ginsparg's revolutionary contribution to the Physics community: The Physics Eprint Archive, based in Los Alamos, has grown in the last four years to now include more than 70% of the current physics literature world-wide. It receives 500 new articles per week and is accessed 75,000 times per day by the world's 45,000 physicists.

The Cognitive Sciences (including large portions of Computer Science and Engineering, Psychology, Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, Linguistics and Philosophy) provide another natural focus for a comprehensive electronic archive, and being so multidisciplinary, they are also a good testbed for extrapolating the principle of electronic archiving to the entire learned literature.


Much time and money is currently spent printing and mailing preprints and technical reports of not-yet-refereed papers. An eprint archive will consolidate this literature and make it much more widely and easily available, increasing both the accessibility of the information and the visibility of the authors. It will also provide a much more powerful and global means of soliciting and provided informal prepublication feedback on new ideas and findings.

The archive will reside at the University of Southampton and at various mirror sites worldwide. Its aim is to provide global access to the scholarly/scientific literature in the Cognitive Sciences. Existing capabilities of electronic archives will be enhanced with easier and more universal eprint depositing and retrieval mechanisms adapted to the many different word processor formats in which the learned literature is currently written. Features such as Microcosm developed in the Open Journal Project at Southampton will also be added.

Literature will be attracted to CogPrints by a series of calls and postings, inviting scientists to deposit their eprints in the archive. The advantages for contributors include high visibility; permanent, instant, global accessibility; text-capturability, for feedback, comments and quoting in other work; no cost to circulate preprints or reprints; speed of access.

Electronic archiving of preprints greatly facilitates informal pre-refereed feedback, which can in turn improve the draft that is ultimately submitted for refereeing hence speeding the formal refereeing process; it also establishes informal primacy on a broad scale, and, if the results are immediately found to be valid and useful, can allow research to begin building on the findings even before peer review and publication of the official version.

The CogPrints archive can also draw self-nominated referees to the Action Editor of the refereed journal to which the preprint is ultimately submitted; it is important to supplement the Editor's resources in referee-selection because incorrect or unbalanced selection of referees is perhaps the single greatest weakness of peer review. As self-nominated referees will have read the work, their reports are likely to be prepared more quickly.

Once the refereed, final draft is accepted, the CogPrints archive will of course accelerate the dissemination of the report while it awaits paper printing and distribution, as it will be available immediately to everyone.



The CogPrints archive will be available 24 hours a day to everyone on the internet. It will contain a wide range of material from very early draft ideas, through traditional preprints awaiting peer review, to published peer-reviewed reprints, to post-publication updates and revisions, comments and responses.

Taxonomic indexes and keyword searching capabilities are already provided and will be enhanced to make them more useful to the world cognitive science community. Eprints will be indexed by author-provided keywords as well as a keyword database that will be constructed especially for CogPrints classification. In addition, in collaboration with the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia, the documents in the archive will be further linked, via the references they cite, through the mediation of the SCI and SSCI citation database, to the abstracts of the articles they cite (as they appear in Medline, Psychological Abstracts and OCLC book and journal databases) as well as to the full texts of articles as they become available in electronic form. This linking to the electronic literature as a whole will be another of the advantages of having a digitised research corpus, and this particular resource will be useful to researchers, teachers and students alike.

The archive will be able to automatically accept, store, and make available for screen display, texts in the many standard word-processing packages in use today. Submissions can be dated, with the date encrypted and unalterable. The submission itself can be password controlled by the author, who can remove or modify the text at will. If the author wishes to leave successive versions in the archive, they will be linked by a thread, pointing to successive, dated, updates. Comments on articles will also be linked by reciprocal threads.


Allies and resources in this undertaking include:

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