Re: Elsevier Science Policy on Public Web Archiving Needs Re-Thinking

From: Tony Barry <> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 05:37:38 -0400

At 3:44 PM 1998/09/22, Stevan Harnad wrote:

>Do I need to spell out the incoherence, tortuousness, ludicrousness and
>blatant conflict of interest coursing through all this more explicitly?
>Is it coherent to declare that "you may publicly archive your work, but
>not the correct, final version?" (Will you shoot me if I just fix the

There is a more fundamental question which relates to the concept of a
"final version". We are so used to the static nature of print that we have
ingrained into us the concept that a publication _should_ be finalised.
Electronic publications increasingly are not. Those publications which had
loose leaf updates or periodic new editions (Handbooks, encyclopedias etc)
have moved to evolving databases. We have changed our approach of being
able to accept errors in a such a print product with the expectation that
it would be fixed in a new edition, to a much more critical view of errors
in an online document as we expect them to be amenable to correction.

Rather that being forced to a silly situation where an author can publish
online a document known to have errors because a corrected equivalent print
version exists, it would be far more sensible if the errors found in the
print edition could be changed in the online version.

I would go one step further. Surely it would be rational to judge the
worth of an academic's work on the basis of the publications he or she
could keep current and accurate on the network rather than on the paper
trail of fossilized past ideas embedded in the strata of the print

Tony Barry
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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