Re: Self-Archiving the Refereed Journal Literature

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 10:11:02 +0100

On Thu, 27 May 1999, D. R. Forsdyke wrote:

> I agree entirely, that public-self archiving would solve many of
> the problems referred to in the study. However, when copyright has
> already been assigned to a publishing house (as a precondition of paper
> journal publication), the publishing house may prefer to have its own
> archive and refuse permission for self-archiving.

About copyright, see:

In brief, it is a foregone conclusion that authors who give their texts
to their publishers gratis, asking no royalty or fee, will be able to
retain their copyright as soon as they choose to assert their desire to
do so. A limited license will be all they need to assign to their

The American Physical Society, publishers of the most prestigious and
highest impact journals in Physics have already set a clear model for
all other learned-journal publishers in this regard. It is only a
matter of time until all others follow suit.

The only question is about what active researchers, with finite
lifetimes, eager to maximize their scientific productivity and impact,
ought to do in the meanwhile, and I think it is completely obvious to
anyone who thinks about it (the logic of it, the justice of it, and the
pragmatics of it) exactly what that is. The contributors to Los Alamos
have already shown us all the way.

> How many contributors to Cell, for example, know that now the
> journal has been taken over by Elsevier, they will no longer be given
> free permission to publicly self-archive (as was the previous policy of
> Cell Press)?

And again, it is entirely obvious what any Cell author who thinks about
it ought to (and I hope will) do. Let Elsevier look at:

and weep!

> This is unfortunate, since self-archiving allows the use of
> colour, space and emphasis, which often is not possible in a paper
> journal (and is too complex for the publishing house electronic
> archivists to carry out). The work can then be much easier to
> assimilate, even if downloaded to a paper version.

Noch nie da gewesen, as we say in Latin. There are much stronger a
fortiori reasons for self-archiving, far over and above these "add-on"
arguments: There is no reason whatsoever why toll-gates should bar
access to what we have given away for free solely in order to reach the
eyes and minds of all of our potentially interested fellow-researchers
the world over.

We report our (often publicly funded) research findings, not to make
money from the sales receipts, but to contribute to learned inquiry, so
that others can build upon our work. In the paper era, the only way
this PUBLICation of our findings was possible was via a medium whose
native expenses required fees to be collected at the gate, for all the
world as if it were the trade press of books and magazines, written for
fees and royalties.

That era is now over for this special literature, and it is entirely up
to us when we elect to reap the scientific benefits of that fact. The
Net and XXX have led us to the water: It is now up to us to drink.

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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