Re: Nature 10 September on Public Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 14:26:34 -0400

Albert Henderson <> wrote:

> In spite of the buzz we hear constantly, the effect of ejournals to
> date in terms of citation studies has been minimal. (S.P. Harter. 1998.
> Scholarly Communication and Electronic Journals. JASIS: Journal of the
> American Society for Information Science. 49(6):507-516).

Apples and oranges. To compare citations of e-journals to p-journals is
simply to compare new-journals to old-journals. What on earth can
one learn from such a comparison? Look instead at xxx statistics,
including deposits, hits and citations.

> Unlike the electronic-only journal, most publications must run two
> distributions.

For now. But we are trying to hasten the transition to the optimal and
the inevitable. And hybrid paper/online editions, sustained by S/SL/PPV,
are just Trojan Horses in this regard, designed to hold us hostage to
S/SL/PPV forever, if possible.

> Many readers lack the infrastructure required to
> participate in epublishing.

How many today? And tomorrow? And the next day? Keep an eye on

> Associations like AAAS, with members who
> prefer their paper copy, are particularly hard pressed to cut out
> print.

Has anyone polled AAAS on preferences today? And compared it to
yesterday? and tomorrow?

Besides, the real alternative will only be sampled as Science articles
(contrary to Editor Bloom's editorial or Science's copyright current
policy) start to appear in xxx for free. Let's see how members vote

Besides, Science is a genuinely hybrid journal, not just in the
paper/online sense, but in that it contains both free refereed
articles and fee-based journalists' articles. Hence it is not
representative of the 6500 refereed journals indexed by ISI or the
14,000 indexed by Ulrich's.

> So epublishing while appearing to provide economies actually
> becomes an extra burden that demands extra investments in technology,
> human resources, etc.

Not for the online-only journals; nor will it be for the rest, once
the economies anticipated by Odlyzko and Doyle (see his contributions
to the 70/30 thread in this Forum) begin to be realised.

    Odlyzko, A.M. (1998) The economics of electronic journals. In:
    Ekman R. and Quandt, R. (Eds) Technology and Scholarly
    Communication Univ. Calif. Press, 1998.

> There are more pressing problems flowing from the poor productivity of
> research. Even Newt Gingrich complains about the poor dissemination and
> synthesis of scientific results. The taxpayer is not getting his/her
> money's worth. The researcher is insulated from important information.
> Going electronic offers no solution to this.

Is that poor productivity or poor dissemination? For better
dissemination, turn to
For better productivity, increase research funding.

But whatever you do, don't turn to paper or S/SL/PPV if
want you want is better access to scientific results!

> British Library consultant David J Brown indicates the new media will
> not survive if the economic market is not large enough. (ELECTRONIC
> PUBLISHING AND LIBRARIES. London: Bowker-Saur 1996)

Reckoning the market from the S/SL/PPV standpoint, of course. Re-do the
calculation factoring in some perestroika toward free online-only
dissemination with quality-control supported by author page charges
financed from the S/SL/PPV savings.

> He also points out
> that library growth has not been sufficient to absorb the growth of
> research.

Make that paper-library growth. Now re-do it online-only, etc.

> I would add, nor is library growth able to disseminate what
> it cannot absorb. In my eyes this is due to universities diverting
> library finances to support administrative growth.

Ah me...

> A solution to the problems of dissemination would be easily derived by
> financial support of library growth that would keep up with research.

Yes, let's just make paper journals fatter and serials acquisitions
budgets fatter; that should solve all of our problems...

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

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