viXra Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of viXra.org?

Our goal is to enable anyone to distribute their works of science and mathematics irrespective of their status or affiliations. We record and timestamp submissions and replacements so that the authors can use the information to establish the priority of their discoveries. The URL link to the abstract page can be used as a fixed reference and will remain open access to anyone with an internet connection. By providing this simple service viXra is supporting a growing community of scientists and mathematicians who are excluded from other repositories. Their output through viXra is about 4% of the quantity of submissions of arXiv (the biggest official academic repository.) They include qualified researchers who left academia for other careers but who are still active in their field, people still in academic positions who publish extra research outside their main area, scientists from less well known research institutions around the world who do not always have the access and support of major first world institutions, peoples whose work within or without academia is rejected by the mainstream and people with no research qualifications who just want to form and express their own theories. Such people are not necessarily constrained by the directions given by funding agencies which may be dictated by politicians or the dogmatic influence of established science, but there is no common agenda. These people are producing a diverse range of ideas, some of it is crazy thinking designed to topple old paradigms, some of it is basic mainstream science simply adding small drops to the ocean of human knowledge. There is everything in between. Much of it is ahead of its time and without viXra it would be lost and forgotten. To prevent such loss is our purpose.

Who can submit to viXra?

Anyone can submit to viXra. Most authors who submit to viXra are independent researchers who have no current affiliations to a research institution. They may or may not have relevant qualifications. Some of our submissions also come from academics who find that their work is too controversial for the mainstream repositories, or who just want an extra copy of their work online. In fact about 5% of viXra submissions come via .edu or other academic email addresses. We have submissions from CERN, MIT, Los Alamos, Cornell, Oxford University and even the US Navy.

How can I submit my work to viXra.org?

Write it up and prepare a PDF file with the title, author and abstract on the first page. Then click on the "submit" button on the site and fill in the New Submissions form. For more information about submission see the page at http://vixra.org/submit

Do I have to write in English?

You can submit papers in any language. Your work will be more widely appreciated if written in English because English has become the international language of science, but it is better to write in your native tongue than to provide a bad translation. Some authors submit multiple versions in different languages. If you wish to do that you can put the different language versions in one document or submit them as two (or more) versions using the replacement form after the first. If you do that please indicate the different languages for different current versions in the comment field. Some people submit different language versions as separate submissions. We accept this but do not recommend it. You may find it an advantage to submit an English title and abstract. Please write the author names using Latin letters only (accents accepted)

Can viXra editors help me with translation/conversion to PDF/the mathematics/reviews etc.?

ViXra is a repository, not a journal and does not have editors. The administrators are volunteers and all the funding we get is used to run the web servers. We do not have access to people who can help with transaltion or any other kind of service. All authors must organise and fund any services they require to produce their papers in PDF form themselves and then submit the completed PDF document using the web submission forms.

What should I do if I have corrections or improvements to my paper?

You can use the replacement form to upload new versions of the paper. This will be added to the abstract page of the original submission and the old version will be kept for the record.

My old version had errors so should I remove it?

You can remove old versions if you wish using the removal form, but remember that one purpose of viXra is to record the priority of your discoveries. If you replace at a later date and remove earlier versions you could lose your priority to someone else who published a similar idea in the meantime.

When people search on Google they see the older version of my paper first. Should I remove the earlier versions to correct this?

No. The link structure we use gives preference to the newest version but it may take a little while for Google's search engine to discover all the links and readjust. Be patient.

I am working on a new version of my paper. Can I withdraw the current one and submit a new paper later?

You should wait until the new version is ready and then submit as a replacement of the original. If you feel you must withdraw the earlier versions before the new version is ready then use the removal form to remove all versions, but note the vixra number and submit the newer version later as a replacement using that number.

My paper was wrong. Should I withdraw it?

If you are sure the paper was completely wrong then you can withdraw it, but you are not obliged to. It can remain as a record of a failed attempt.

I submitted my paper to a journal and they want me to remove the viXra copy. What should I do?

Be very wary of journals that request removal from repositories, whether before or after acceptance. Most reputable journals allow authors to keep a version online. If the journal is not open access you will lose many readers by putting it behind a journal paywall. Even if the journal is open access you will lose any priority based on the earlier date you submitted to viXra. There is also a big risk that the journal itself will disappear in the future. Some journals are small commercial operations that can fail, or projects organised by academics who will lose interest when they change job or retire. It is standard practice in most fields to have at least one copy in a repository as backup.

My paper has been accepted by a journal. Can I submit the final version to viXra?

You can submit a final version to viXra but it must be your version in your format. You must NOT use the formatted version provided by the journal. If they see the journal letterhead on the paper they will demand that we remove it. Sometimes we will remove pre-emptively

If I email you a copy of the paper can you upload it for me?

You must use the web forms for all submissions, replacements etc. This is to avoid errors and to ensure that the system can properly log all operations.

What if I just want to change or correct the title, authors, abstract or comment on the viXra abstract page?

You can do this using the change form if the change does not affect the PDF file.

Can I submit my papers to both arXiv and viXra?

Yes some people do that. If you can submit to other repositories we encourage you to do so

Can you archive my database or computer source code?

No, this is outside our purpose and we do not have sufficient capabilities or resources. Instead Figshare is highly recommended for sharing of research data and files of all types.

When should I include someone as a co-author?

If someone has made substantial contributions to a paper you have written you should offer to include them as a co-author. This should be seen as a positive thing and not as giving away some of the credit. However, you must never include them unless they have read the paper and responded to say that they are happy to be included as an author. If in doubt it may be better to mention them in an acknowledgment instead.

My paper does not fit well into any of your categories. Can you create a new one?

You should use the category that best suits your work. We have tried to keep the categories as broad as possible and will not introduce new ones that are more specific. There are general categories for anything that is not covered directly. We feel that viXra will work best for users if there are as few changes as possible.

Can I cross-list or submit my paper to more than one category?

No, viXra does not havve a cross-listing feature and will reject multiple submissions. You must choose one category that best fits. It would not make any difference to how many people see your paper if you could cross-list.

My recent paper does not appear in the search. Can you fix it?

The on-site search features uses Google search whose indexing is outside our control. Usually new submissions and replacements appear on Google within a few days but when they dont it is not something we can influence.

My paper was there but now I can't see it. What happened?

Sometimes a paper does not appear where you expect. There are various causes of this e.g.

I paper will disappear from the "recent submission" pages after a period of time but should still be in the monthly listings
If version v1 is removed the paper may only appear on the listings further down under recent replacements
A paper can sometimes disappear from the search results. This is a feature of Google that we have no control over. It will reappear after some time.
The paper may not appear in the author listings if a different version of author name was used. Use a change request to change the name on the abstract page or contact viXra admin to set up an alias
A newly listed paper can appear to be missing due to browser caching. Clear your browser cache.

If none of these apply please contact viXra admin providing as much information as possible about the missing paper including links to pages where you expected to see it.

Why can I not include an executable in my PDF?

We had problems with a submission which included an executable embedded in a PDF. It triggered a virus alert which led to the whole viXra site being blocked by some anti-virus software including Norton. This may have been a false alarm but it nevertheless caused serious problems for the site affecting many visitors and therefore all authors. To be on the safe side we no longer allow executables to be embedded in PDFs.

Can you please read my paper and let me know what you think?

Sorry but we can't. We are not a journal and do not perform peer review. We do not have access to enough people with the required range of expertise. You can submit your paper to a journal for peer review, or you can seek feedback in other places such as our forums at http://vixra.freeforums.org/. You may get some feedback in the comment section of your abstract page. The truth is that it is very hard for to get feedback on scientific research, especially for independent researchers.

Can I submit anonymously?

We strongly advise that you should use your real name on your work. If you must hide your real name for some reason you should make up a name as a "nom de plume". This should be a real sounding name that does not clash with another researcher's name. We do not accept single word names. Any false name that may be confused with another individual is strictly unacceptable.

Do you ever reject papers, and if so for what reasons?

Vixra does not filter submissions according to a minimum level of quality, but we reserve the right to reject submissions including any of the following:

Do you ever ban authors?

We may ban authors who repeatedly submit papers we reject as above. In practice very few people fall foul of these rules and we try to tolerate as much as we can. However, you should be aware that we have zero tolerance for dishonest practices such as plagiarism, using someone elses name as a co-author without permission or claiming affiliations that are not correct. In these instances we impose an immediate and permanent ban on the author and may remove all their previously submitted papers. If you claim an affiliation you must be able to prove it e.g. by pointing to a webpage on the institution website that lists your name. If you can't prove it, don't claim it. You should also give some indication of your position at the institution e.g. professor, postdoc, PHD student, undergraduate etc.

Why do viXra papers not appear in Google Scholar?

When viXra started we found that many of the papers did appear in the Google scholar listing. Google required only that papers be formatted in the traditional format with title, author, abstract and references. We added meta-data to our pages so that the abstract pages would appear in the same way as they do on arXiv and this worked for a while. Then in September 2011 all our papers were removed from Google Scholar overnight. There was no explanation and Google do not respond to queries about it. It seems to be an act of pure censorship on their part. We think this is unjustified but we can't do anything about it. Nevertheless some viXra papers now appear via our mirror site especially if they are cited. You may also be able to get your papers included by listing them on sites such as getcited.org. To maximise the chances of being listed on Google Scholar we advise authors to ensure that their paper looks like a traditional paper pre-print. In particular it should have title, author and abstract on the front page and references at the end. If possible aim to submit to other repositories as well as viXra, e.g. figshare or ResearchGate. However the best chance is to be cited or published in a journal, but avoid at all costs journals that ask for an author fee or do not permit a copy to remain in a repository.

Why do viXra papers not appear in Inspire HEP

When Inspire HEP was run by the SLAC Library as SPIRES some of our HEP papers did appear there, especially if authors requested it. When CERN took over the index and renamed it Inspire HEP the existing entries from viXra remained but no new ones were added. We can only conclude that CERN are much less open to academic freedom than SLAC.

Why doesn't viXra filter out the most crazy papers in order to improve its reputation?

ViXra does not aim to improve its reputation by filtering for quality. Our aim is to cultivate a reputation for openness by supporting free speech principles in science. We think that people should be able to publish any ideas they have (within the bounds of the law). The process of peer-review and evaluation should be separate from the process of publication and distribution so there is no reason why a repository like viXra should filter content except according to the rejection rules above.

I noticed some papers on viXra that are just nonsense and which are obviously not intended to be serious. Can you remove them?

Sometimes we do remove papers that are brought to our attention if we agree that they are not intended to be serious. Sometimes we prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt because some people express their genuine views in unusual ways. If they are trying to test or mock us they are only making fools of themselves. There us no reason why the quality of some material on viXra should reflect badly on other papers there.

Is it true that it is easy to get reasonable papers accepted by arXiv?

Arxiv has a two tier filtering process. The first requires that you are endorsed by someone who has already established a good reputation on arXiv. The second tier is a system of moderation by expert review. For people without the right personal connections in the category where they wish to submit their papers there is no chance to use arXiv. It is not easy for outsiders to find people willing to endorse them because arXiv threatens to punish anyone who endorses papers which the moderators then judge to be inappropriate. Once you endorse someone they can submit anything they like without the endorser checking so people will only endorse those they know and trust. Once you have been endorsed your paper may still be selected for review by moderators. Although arXiv does not mention it as one of their criteria it is clear from experience that one thing that guarantees such a review is a lack of academic affiliation. Getting work into arXiv is usually easy if you are at a university but not if you are an outsider. It also needs to be understood that people want their work to be accepted immediately but arXiv can take a few weeks if they mark work for moderation. When this happens there is a risk that new ideas could be plagiarised before acceptance. Furthermore, if independent work is finally accepted it often gets put into one of the "general" categories which cannot be cross-listed and are often not indexed for the purposes of citation counts etc. Because arXiv do not make all details of the moderation process clear many people think that anything that can't be submitted must be of very low quality. This is not true. Even if you have a PhD and an impressive publication list in your field it does not seem to help you get new papers into arXiv. For more information about arXiv's moderation process see Automating the Horae: Boundary-work in the age of computers by Luis Ignacio Reyes-Galindo.

People have told me that they don't trust papers on viXra.org. Can't you do something about this?

People are right not to trust papers on viXra because most of them have not been peer-reviewed or checked in any way. This is not something that should be fixed. It is more unfortunate that other repositories that accept un-reviewed papers such as arXiv try to generate a level of trust in those papers by claiming that endorsers and moderators keep out untrustworthy submissions. They fail to do this and many papers in such repositories are later found to be wrong. Only peer-review, citations, independent confirmation and the readers' own understanding can lead to a paper being trusted. For many of the authors in viXra it is hard to generate such trust because major journals reject papers from unaffiliated sources before peer-review and because most services that track citations such as Google Scholar blacklist all papers from the viXra site. This is outside of our control and we can only hope that it will change in the future. It means that people who are interested in viXra papers will often need to read them critically and make their own judgement. Faults can be pointed out in the disqus section of the abstract page.

I have been told that I should not publish on viXra because it is full of crank material and I will lose credibility. What should I do?

A repository is not a service that gives or takes away credibility. Our purpose is to provide an independent record of your work and a stable reference point. Credibility is established through peer-review, citations and various forms of verification. Nobody has any reason to judge your work simply by the fact that it is in viXra. Nevertheless we know that some people think incorrectly that a paper must be rubbish because it could not be submitted to arXiv or similar. There are also people who occasionally like to pick out some papers on viXra and mock them to make it look like everything on viXra is a joke. In truth viXra now has over 14000 papers and most people who make such comments would not understand a fraction of them well enough to pass judgement. The number of such negative reactions is diminishing as the rate of submissions to viXra increases. Most people now understand what it is about but you will always find ignorant people who do not get the message.

Isn't pseudoscience bad for science and even dangerous? Why do you give it credibility by allowing it to be published on viXra?

Acceptance on viXra does not bestow any credibility on any paper because we make it clear that we do not filter, review or endorse anything we accept. It is true that some specific forms of pseudoscience are potentially dangerous, for example misleading claims about alternative medicine are harmful. We find on viXra that we get very few (if any) submissions that could be classed as dangerous in this way. If we do get them people can point out their faults in the feedback area on the abstract page. This kind of thing is more a problem for peer-reviewed journals and main-stream media who do give some credibility by publishing. Their editors should provide a balanced view on controversial topics. It is better to provide rational arguments than trying to supress discussion. We do accept a lot of submissions on viXra that many people would consider crank material with obvious faults. We do not think it is anti-science or dangerous to accept such papers. On the contrary it is a good thing for a number of reasons such as

Apart from those points, there is no sharp line dividing pseudoscience from good ideas, If we tried to filter out bad quality submissions we would inevitably either allow some bad stuff through or lock some good stuff out, or both. Furthermore the effort required to properly review all content for scientific value would require an expertise and work load that could never be available on an unfunded repository such as viXra.

My papers are now on viXra but I am not getting any feedback. What should I do?

Getting feedback on your research can be hard even sometimes for professional academics let alone independent researchers. Here are some DOs and DONTs

Will less people see my work if I publish in viXra rather than arXiv?

We have compared the published statistics for arXiv with our own and as far as we can tell a new paper on viXra will have a similar number of viewers as one on arXiv.

What kind of organisation is viXra, who runs it and how is it funded?

viXra is a non-profit community run website with no official status run by a small group of enthusiasts. It was created by independent physicist Philip Gibbs who is also a software developer. Special thanks are also due to Huping Hu with QuantumDream and Jonathan Dickau for support with admin and mirror sites. There is no funding apart from the minimal advertising on the pages (now removed). This does not cover all expenses yet, but the costs are kept low. At times we accept donation until we have covered our costs. Please see the funding page for details.

I would like to suggest some great mew features for viXra. Can you implement them?

We can think of lots of ways that viXra could be improved, but we keep it simple and avoid bespoke interactive features so that it is easy to run at low cost. We welcome new ideas but will probably not be able to include them without significant outside funding. The purposes of viXra are probably better served by a stable unchanging platform than by one with constantly updated features and changes in conditions.

How long will viXra keep going?

viXra needs to be permanent to serve its purpose as a long-term archive. We have a mirror site as a backup and its database is in cloud storage so that it exists independently of the people who currently run it. We keep the workings simple so that anyone can take over if problems arise. We are planning to take further steps to ensure that it can outlive its founders.

Does posting on viXra protect my copyright?

Your copyright is automatically established by international law through publication in viXra or anywhere else where it will be preserved. This gives you some legal protection against people who might copy large parts of your paper. However this may not be a very strong safeguard against other forms of plagiarism.

Intellectual property rights are complex and vary with time and country but there are some things that can be said with reasonable confidence. You cannot copyright your ideas or even your equations, only the wording and illustrations in your paper are copyright. There is no legal protection against someone copying your idea and publishing it in their own wording without citing you. Many scientists even consider it perfectly ethical to publish similar ideas without reference to prior research if they have had the idea independently.

Furthermore, if someone does violate your copyright there may be little you can do about it because the cost of international legal action will exceed the potential damages by several orders of magnitude. However, if they publish in a journal with copied text or images you should be able to complain to the journal and get it retracted. These things do really happen.

As well as establishing copyright, viXra also records your priority by timestamping every version (provided you do not remove earlier versions) This is more important than copyright and gives you some comeback if someone publishes a similar idea later. You can always use your viXra record to show that you had the idea first. However, this does not give you any legal right. You can request people to cite your work but you cannot force them.

Sometimes when looking back at the history of good ideas more credit is given to later work because it was published in a better journal or because the original person was more influential. This sounds daft but some scientists say that influencing later research is more important than having the idea first. If as an outsider you try to make your work more influential by writing to scientists or mentioning it in public forums etc, you will then only be looked upon as a spammer, and if you try to publish in an influential journal you will often be rejected, catch 22.

This I am afraid is the unfairness of the academic system to outsiders. The best you can do is publish your work in a repository like viXra to establish priority, then try to explain it clearly in places like your own blog or the viXra forums, and above all, continue to work on it and relate it to other people’s work so that it gets known. If your idea is good, presented in enough detail and you recorded it first then it should be possible to get the credit eventually. For many of us it is sufficient to have enjoyed the process of discovery. Being given credit or reward is not necessarily what counts most.

How reliable is your timestamp feature?

We record timestamps for every submission, and replacement. These are displayed on the abstract page unless the paper is subsequently withdrawn. This should normally be good enough for the purposes of establishing priority but it might not stand up in a court of law. If timestamping your work is very important to you then you should use an additional service such as GPG for each version of your document. Note however that establishing scientific priority is not just about being able to prove you wrote the document at a given time. You also have to show that you published it. Some scientists say that priority is also about how influential your work is compared to others, so a similar idea that was published later may get more credit if the author succeeded in getting more attention for it. This may seem unfair especially on people who are not influential but it also guards against people who deliberately keep their idea obscure so that they can continue to work on it themselves alone.

I have an opportunity to publish some of my work on viXra with a professional publisher and will have to transfer my copyright over to them. Will this be a problem for viXra?

A change of copyright ownership would not necessarily be a problem for us. Hopefully if you sign away your rights you will still be permitted by the new owner to keep your articles here too, but you need to make sure that this has been stated in writing. If not you can always withdraw them from viXra. Just be careful what you agree to so that you do not have to remove them against your will.

We are sometimes asked by corporate publishers to remove articles from here that have been submitted by the authors. Sometimes our versions of the articles are not identical to the published work but they have enough text in common to infringe on the copyright. We have to comply with such requests. Big publishing companies hire legal agents to search online for publications for which they own the copyright and the lawyers ask us to remove them with threatening letters even of the published work in question has gone out of print. You should be fine so long as you are careful about what you sign and understand what rights you are giving over and any possible consequences regarding the future availability of your work.

Are Authors allowed to send unsolicited e-mails to academics to promote their work on viXra?

viXra discourages authors from sending unsolicited e-mails because many academics consider it a nuisance and it rarely gets results. It is better to publicise research on the web and wait for anyone interested to contact the author. If there is no contact, assume no interest and work harder to make it more interesting.

However, viXra is not responsible for what authors do outside viXra even if viXra links are used. It would not be possible for us to police the way viXra authors use the internet for several reasons including our lack of resources, inability to check allegations and the legal questionability of any action we might take. It is impossible to draw a clear line between nuisance e-mails and genuine research contacts. If we banned someone every time we got a complaint it would give people an easy way to suppress ideas they did not like or take revenge in personal disputes. Furthermore, a ban of the use of viXra would only stop a spammer using viXra links. It would not stop them spamming. Scientists receive many unwanted messages of different sorts and the only practical defence is use of an email client with good spam control features, so that is what we recommend.

One last point: If you think it is viXra who is responsible for the increase in fringe theory spam being sent to academics, think again. While viXra discourages people from sending unsolicited emails, the arXiv endorsement system actively encourages it. Whenever an independent researcher who is unoffiliated to an academic institution tries to submit a paper to arXiv they are automatically told to get hold of someone with endorsement rights to approve their paper. The only way they can hope to do this is by sending many copies of their work to anyone they think may be able to help.

Messaging about academic work is not normally commercial marketing and therefore does not fall under legislation that would make it illegal. Reporting such mail as abuse to viXra's hosting provider is unjustified and is itself a form of abuse. If articles on viXra are used to support illegal forms of marketing it can be reported to us and we may remove them if we agree.

ViXra has banned one author who had been a prolific spammer since well before viXra started. His activities crossed a line that nobody else has come close to. In particular he was allegedly spoofing the identify of respected scientists and organisations.

Why do you not add a timestamp or watermark to PDFs as arXiv does?

PDFs are not designed to be edited directly. ArXiv generate many of their PDFs from TeX source making it possible to add in some extra information. They do not do it when an author submits only a PDF as is the case for all viXra submissions. It may be possible to edit PDFs using third party software but this could be costly, unreliable and may have unwanted side-effects. Furthermore authors do not always want their work manipulated in this way.

What does "Unique-IP document downloads" mean

This is a statistic shown on the abstract pages and author list. It is a count of the number of times the PDF document has been downloaded for reading. In order to not count multiple reads by the same user we look at the IP address and only count once for each unique IP. Downloads of different versions of a paper are added together to give a single number. The method is not perfect because many people have dynamic IP addresses that change when they reconnect to the network, and some IP addresses are shared. However it is the best approximation possible to the total number of people who have read the document. It should never be regarded as exact.

Why does the document download count sometimes go down? Can't you fix it?

Documents are also downloaded by search engine robots for indexing purposes and we don't want to count those. To remove these the system looks for IPs which download many documents and then removes them from the statistic. Sometimes a robot IP is only identified after it has been counted previously. The count then gets adjusted down. We can't look into the future so there is no practical and legitimate way to fix this other than to take away the popular usage feature altogether. This is why other repositories do not provide similar statistics. Authors must just accept it as a consequence of the imperfect counting method used.

Why does the title of my paper get changed incorrectly for the abstract page?

For style consistency we require all titles on abstract pages and listings to be in "Title Case" style. I.e. words are normally in lower case with a capital letter unless they are a short conjuction, article or preposition. Abreviations can be capitalised. The viXra system automatically looks at titles to see if they are mostly in this form. If they are not (e.g. mostlyall-captals or mostly lower case first letters) then it tries to convert to Title Case. This is a dumb process that cannot understand about words with unusual capitalisation so it may not work correctly. Authors should therefore submit forms with titles given in something close to Title Case. If there are still problems please contact admin who can correct it.

Does viXra have an RSS feed?

Yes, it is at http://vixra.org/feed/rss.xml. Any RSS feed applications should be able to find this from the home page.

How do you pronounce viXra?

Just as it is written vix as in vixen and ra as in zebra. No fancy gutteral sounds are required round the X but if you think it should sound like "archive" backwards feel free to try that instead.