Caution: Anarchic Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 12:45:59 +0100

        Caution Against Anarchic Archiving!

On Thu, 1 Jul 1999, Steve Hitchcock wrote:

> Not to forget free Web access to all papers, including e-prints and
> refereed papers, recently announced by the commercial publisher Current
> Science
> ...not all
> such initiatives will be positive for the academic community or will help
> towards the goal of universally accessible, free e-print archives in
> perpetuity...
> ...other important factors to consider when
> evaluating these archives are ownership and long-term plans for access,
> distribution, mirroring, etc, to avoid the same hostage to fortune that
> journals have come to represent. Multiple archives are fine, but there
> should be scope for integration via distributed services too.

Steve Hitchcock is 100% right for sounding this important note of
caution. What is not wanted is an anarchic-archivng period of
fly-by-night archives in which authors' papers become orphaned (as they
have in many other ephemeral web and ftp sites) or are stamped with a
proprietary price-tag after an interval.

(I am not implying that this is the case with the Current Science
Archive or any of the other nascent ones, but it is something that must
be given explicit consideration. Let me add, though, that the Current
Science Archive, like the BMJ/Stanford Archive, is for UNREFEREED
preprints only; apart from that, it is in reality endeavouring to be a
JOURNAL, not an archive, for it plans to offer peer review for papers
if they are submitted on the refereeing track. As I have cautioned many
times before, founding new archives should NOT be confused or
conflated with founding new journals, nor with reforming peer review.
The purpose of public online archives is to free the journal literature for
one and all; there is a place for new online journals too, as there always
has been, but that is an incomparably smaller matter, and only beclouds the
free-archive issue if linked to it in any way. Peer review can do with
some reform too, but that is a long-term empirical problem, requiring
experimental testing, and hence likewise not to be linked in any way
with the fate of freeing the journal literature through self-archiving,
whose time has now come, and whose empirical success has already been
resoundingly demonstrated by the Los Alamos Archive

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 2380 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 2380 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:33 GMT