A few months ago, the question was posed on science Twitter: “How many people have published on ChemRxiv?”

It was a good day for me, which meant I was in the mood to take up the first challenged posed on Twitter. I found that @fxcoudert has previously written a python client for ChemRxiv. I made a pair of pull requests (fxcoudert/tools#9 and fxcoudert/tools#10) to fix some bugs and make it importable from other python modules.

Unlike BioRxiv, the pre-print server for biology, ChemRxiv is implemented with FigShare. It turns out that all FigShare “institutions” like ChemRxiv are actually accessible through the main FigShare API. I think this is pretty cool, and made sure that the ChemRxiv client that I had updated was actually able to be run for any institution. Fun fact: the institution code for ChemRxiv is 259.

I got to work writing my own repository to wrap the client, take care of downloading all of the bibliographic information available, and generating some pretty pictures. I originally ran the scripts and generated pictures on January 20th, 2020 (the day Egon posed the question). Since the pandemic has got the whole science community introspecting, I came back to this today and thought it might be worth writing up as a blog post.

Without further ado, here are the most recent charts I’ve generated to answer three main questions. I’ve linked the images in such a way that the charts will be automatically updated with my GitHub repository. This also implicitly means that there’s a history of each image, but because two of them are plotting time course information, the history is already conveyed within the chart.

How many authors have contributed per month to ChemRxiv?

This only counts using the ORCID iDs of the first authors; it’s pretty inconsistent what other identifying information is included in the metadata for each article.

Unique Authors per Month

How many authors are prolific on ChemRxiv?

If we aggregate that data, we can ask how man authors have submitted lots of articles:

Author Prolificness

How many unique first authors are there on ChemRxiv?

Finally, we can take the first date of authorship for each author then count at each month how many unique first time authors there are. Then, we can use a cumulative sum to show how many authors have contributed to ChemRxiv at any point in time.

Historical Authorship

If you’re interested to regenerate these charts yourself, you’re welcome to do so with the following code:

git clone https://github.com/cthoyt/chemrxiv-summarize
cd chemrxiv-summarize
python 01_download.py
python 02_process.py
python 03_visualize.py

Downloading takes a bit of time (about 40 minutes) but there’s a tqdm bar to keep you entertained in the mean time. Normally I package all of my code, but the one off scripts here didn’t seem to warrant it.

As a final note, I’d like to shout out to Marshall Brennan (@Organometallica) for being an excellent spokesperson and public face of ChemRxiv. Also, throughout this process I realized he also was a chemistry major in his bachelor’s at Northeastern University like me. Go huskies!