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ArXiv’s funding future boosted by hedge-fund charity

The financial sustainability of the arXiv preprint server at Cornell University Library in Ithaca, New York, received a boost yesterday with the announcement that the Simons Foundation, based in New York City, would provide the repository with up to US$350,000 a year in funding for the next five years. The sum would include a yearly $50,000 unconditional grant, with the remainder being matched to funds provided by arXiv’s other donors.

ArXiv has been looking to put itself on more solid financial footing since January 2010, when Cornell University Library announced that it would seek outside financial support from the academic institutions that account for most of the usage of the preprint server. The Simons Foundation — which was founded in 1994 by James Simons, a mathematician and founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his wife Marilyn — gave $60,000 to the library in 2011 to help put in place this self-sustaining funding model and a new governance structure.

ArXiv, which turned twenty last year, was founded by Paul Ginsparg in 1991 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In 2001, Ginsparg moved to Cornell University, taking the server with him. Last September, Ginsparg gave up his involvement in running the server, which is run entirely by Cornell University Library staff, although he remains on its advisory board.

The arXiv server covers mainly physics, computer science, mathematics and statistics, but has expanded to include papers from other disciplines, including biology. The preprint server’s some 780,000 papers themselves have recently become the object of ‘culturomics’ research.

Correction: An older version of this article mistakenly stated that the Simons Foundation was to donate up to $300,000 per year for the next five years. The correct sum was US$350,000.


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