A lot of pieces talking about the failure of open access policies to catch on more widely tend to point to the success of the arXiv in physics and math as if it’s the rule and the failure of the life-science versions are the exception. But, given that physics does not lack for high-stakes job competition, or publication pressure, I think this is the wrong way around. It’s not surprising that biologists don’t embrace preprint-sharing; rather, it’s a mystery how the arXiv managed to succeed so brilliantly.
I’m wondering if it’s structural, in terms of grants and overlap of projects. It may be easier to gear up a lab to scoop someone in other areas of science, but in the high-energy physics world, where you are scheduling experiment time on an accelerator as part of a large collaboration, I think “scooping” really isn’t posing a large problem.