Re: For Whom the Gate Tolls?

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 14:03:58 -0400

Professor L.W. Hurtado <> wrote:

> The paper journal that agrees to publish my essay incurs an expense to
> do so, and has a right thus to protect itself by being able to charge
> subscribers for the publication. If I post the edited/published version
> of my essay (edited and formatted at cost by a journal), for free
> access, don't I cut into the opportunity for the journal to get back
> the costs for preparing my essay in final form? Is this fair?

Yes, this is a problem, and some support to tide over the transition
will be needed, but the learned community cannot be held hostage to the
status quo.

The optimal solution is an on-line-only refereed journal literature,
free for all, its much reduced costs paid through author-end page
charges. To achieve that, publishers have to be persuaded that this is
indeed in the learned community's best interest, that it is what they
want and need, that publication must be on-line-only, and that the
costs must be recovered at the author end instead of the reader end
(through Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View [S/SL/PPV]).

How do you suggest the learned community make its preferences known, as
long as the paper cardhouse, and the financially firewalls supporting
it, remain in place?

Public eprint archiving is the best way to make the learned community's
interests and preferences clear to one and all. Without that impetus, I
believe the status quo could linger, counter-optimally, for quite some
time to come. Tens of thousands of xxx users are voting with their

What is needed is a fair transition scenario, probably in the form
of temporary subsidy while paper and S/SL/PPV are phased out and
page charges and free on-line-only access are phased in.

> If I post a pre-publication version (i.e., not refereed and refined as
> often happens through the refereeing process, not edited, not vouched
> for in any way), what is it worth?... cope with limited time & a
> mountain of stuff...

Red Herring. No one is proposing to replace refereed journals by
unrefereed archives, just to transform journals into paperless
ones, their remaining costs (peer-review and editing) funded
from page charges instead of S/SL/PPV, with archives merely the (free)
mode of access to both the unrefereed preprints and the refereed,
published reprints (triage being safely calibrated by setting =/+
REFEREED to search either the whole archive or only the certified,
refereed sector, respectively).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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