I’ve just posted my first paper on arXiv. Why? Well, all the cool kids are doing it 🙂 But mainly because I’ve thought quite a lot about its subject, I’ve finished the paper, I’m excited about the results, I want to talk about it NOW, not in 6 months or whenever it gets through reviews and possibly (multiple?) rejections. It’s also a field I know others are working in, and by posting to arXiv before it gets published I am ensuring I don’t get scooped. This argument seems odd in the world of biology, where people can hang onto results until papers are accepted for fear someone else is going to copy their experiments, but it’s true. No one can scoop a result published on arXiv, because once the paper is there, the idea is published, albeit in preprint format, with authors and publication date and everything.
There are other arguments for posting on arXiv of course, including making sure work is open access, but as I am submitting to an open access journal, for me it is mainly about immediacy.