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

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGLIT.ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 08:48:42 +0100

> From: "Marvin Margoshes" <>
> ...somebody (better several somebodies) must try online models of
> scientific publishing to learn what works. (Theoretical physicists are
> allowed to try to do it by equations.)

I am perplexed by this remark. What on earth does Marvin Margoshes
think empirical experimentation on online models of scientific
publishing is, if the LANL Physics Archive is not precisely that,
mirrored in 15 countries, with at least 35,000 "somebodies" using it
daily! If that does not count as "working," and working resoundingly
successfully, I don't know what does!


LANL has demonstrated the enormous utility of decoupling the
archiving/access function from the quality control function.
It remains to (1) generalize its benefits to the rest of the
disciplines and to (2) test models for funding the quality control
independent of the archiving/access.

I have proposed paying for the quality control out of author page
charges funded from institutional S/L/P savings. There may well be
other models.


The Institute of Physics has an experimental journal to which access
will be free for all, funded from author page charges:


This experiment is to be wished well, but it may be premature. The
pragmatic order of events is more likely to be:

(1) Making author self-archiving available

(1) Widespread author self-archiving

(2) Shift of the reader community to the free archives

(3) S/L/P cancelations

(4) Transition of journals to page-charges under the cancelation

The reason it is probably premature to switch to page charges in a
single journal now is that the useage and culture is not yet ready for
it: Page charges still have a (justified) bad reputation, for in the
paper era, when they were levied ON TOP OF S/L/P access-barriers, they
amounted to adding insult to injury! They also still have a
wrong-headed aura of "vanity press." And even physicists, with their
heavy reliance on LANL, are unlikely to dare to cancel the S/L/P
journals until other disciplines likewise become dependent on free online
archives and are ready to follow suit.

All this will change under pressure from useage, but the useage must
come first. Hence the importance of archiving initiatives such as
the Scholars Forum, to generalize the empirical success of LANL to the
rest of the disciplines.

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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