Re: Scholar's Forum: A New Model For Scholarly Communication

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGLIT.ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 13:19:46 +0100

The answers to Professor L.W. Hurtado's <> questions
are all already implicit in his own text. He wrote:

> I applaud Harnad's proposal that authors seek to retain the right to
> make their own free distribution of their papers, and that the academic
> establishment (e.g., acad societies) could/should line up in support of
> this practice.

That's all there is to it. If all authors do self-archive their papers
online, free for all, the proposal's objective is fully met. The rest is
just misunderstanding or underestimation of exactly what this outcome

> In a sense, for some time journals have been doing something like this,
> in the provision to authors of multiple off-prints of their published
> papers. Harnad's proposal amounts to negotiating the right to
> distribute *pre-publication* form(s) of the paper as well as the off-
> print/post-publication form.

Correct. It is the right to do that, online, that refereed-journal
authors (who also give their papers to their publishers for free, and
ask for no fee or royalty, unlike the authors of any other form of
literaure) must assert, and never sign away. And the CalTech Proposal is
meant to help them do that.

CalTech Proposal: <>
Subversive Proposal: <>

> But I'm not so sure as he is that his "subversive proposal" will
> succeed in forcing journal publishers to the net.

You misunderstand the subversive proposal as pertaining only to
unrefereed preprints: It is the proposal to self-archive ALL one's
papers, including refereed reprints. Once those are freely available to
everone, online, the subversion is complete. It doesn't matter one bit
whether there is still a market for a paper or online version for which
libraries or individuals have to pay (by Subscriptions, Site-License, or
Pay-Per-View, S/L/P). The papers will be available free for all, online.

(My prediction is that readers will prefer the free online version,
library's will cancel the paid S/L/P version, and so publishers will
have to scale down to providing only the one essential service they will
continue to provide: quality control [peer review and editing] and its
certification. But as that will cost so much less per page than S/L/P
had cost, it will make much more sense to recover that cost up-front,
from author page-charges, paid out of institutional publication funds
derived from only a small portion of the annual S/L/P savings.)

So the point is not to "force the publishers to the net" but merely to
get all the papers onto it!

> It may, in some fields, such as particle physics (though I can't myself
> say), if (1) the pace of discovery research is very fast, (2) the
> people all basically know one another and one another's work, and (3)
> it is readily and quickly possible to evaluate the worth of a research
> claim.

Let us lay this to rest right away: The subversion does not depend on
whether or not an author wants to self-archive unrefereed preprints.
Many surely will, but it does not matter. That is a matter of choice.
What matters is that the final accepted drafts should be self-archived

> But in other fields, such as my own (origins of Christianity; Religion)
> and other fields perhaps esp. in the Humanities, things are different.
> I'm frankly not interested in reading unpublished papers... I want the
> refereeing process first: to filter out the papers not worth the time

Fine. And that is why peer review will be retained, and why that
service, though much less expensive than S/L/P (Odlyzko and others have
estimated that it will be less than 30% per published page), will still
have to be paid for somehow. Paying it from publication funds derived
from <30% of the annual 100% savings from terminating S/L/P seems a
natural way to cover them up-front, leaving the literature toll-free
for all.

> Moreover, unpublished material doesn't count for any career purpose:
> tenure, promotion, obtaining research grants, general credibility of a
> scholar, etc. So, given these factors... how would the inherent value
> of prepublication archives of one's work really have much clout in
> bringing about change?

You are preaching to the converted. Peer review will be maintained,
authors have the choice of whether to archive both preprints and
reprints or just reprints, and readers have the same choice in
calibrating their reading, using "P" and "R" as a search tag...

> But we need to legitimize and make fully respectable internet refereed
> vehicles. How to do that? How do we get academia to get on board? How
> to we get heads of depts and tenure/promotion committees, univ. V-Ps,
> research grant bodies, etc., to see publications in refereed internet
> vehicles as in principle and eventually in fact as significant
> publication as the known paper vehicles?

How on earth did this further option come up? My critique of the
CalTech proposal was directed specifically against this completely
irrelevant and needless notion that new journals are needed, to compete
with the established journals: We have enough journals, and they are
doing a reasonably good job (insofar as quality control is concerned).
Their only problem is that access to their papers is blocked by S/L/P
tolls, even though their authors have given them away for free.

Once authors self-archive all their papers, the access barrier is gone
(and it remains only for the established journals to adapt, as discussed
above). No new online-only journals are needed, particularly (or at
least no more than would be founded as new journals in any event).
Moreover, most of the major established journals already have online
versions available today -- but access to these is blocked by S/L/P.
Which is why subversion is needed, in the form of author self-archiving,
and its support by Consortia such as the one proposed in the CalTech

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 1703 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 1703 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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