Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives '99

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 12:53:09 +0100

On Fri, 9 Jul 1999 wrote:

> Stevan,
> I'm touching base with you to review what you plan to say during your
> talk at the upcoming CESSE conference in Cleveland. You and I are the
> only speakers in the session. We are suppossed to be talking about the
> future economics of journal publishing... looks like a perfect
> opportunity to expose our respective visions on the future of
> scholarly publishing in general.
> Have you thought about what you will say? I'd like to know so that I
> can complement/challenge your points, and then we can have a
> constructive, facilitated discussion/exchange with the audience for the
> balance of the session.
> Let me know your thoughts; I'll share with you mine.
> Look forward to meeting/seeing you in Cleveland.
> regards,
> Matt Loeb
> publisher
> ieee computer society

Hi Matt,

Nice to hear from you. I know (since it has been explicitly denied!) that
this is to be something of a roast of me and my views, and that's fine!

Here they are (the details are in my published and posted writings,
probably the two in Nature and Nature-online, below, tell it all as
well as anything):

(1) I am speaking ONLY about refereed journal articles, not books or

(2) Unlike all other literature, their authors write these papers to
report their ideas and findings, not to make money on their texts. All
they want is to reach the eyes and minds of a maximum of fellow
researchers, present and future, once their findings have passed peer

(3) They accordingly give them away for free to their publishers,
and, after peer review, give away free reprints to all requesters.

(4) Online self-archiving now makes it possible for them to give away
their refereed reprints to one and all forever on the broadest possible

(5) Publishers should in no way to attempt to prevent free
self-archiving by authors by trying to forbid it in copyright
agreements. This is the eye of the storm. See:

(6) The American Physical Society has already provided a model
copyright policy: Authors may self-archive both the unrefereed
preprint and the refereed reprint for free for all. The Publisher
retains all rights to SELL either the paper or online version
of the journal.

(7) The effect of online author self-archiving will be a transition of
the reader/user community to the free online versions.

(8) Eventually this will produce cancelation pressure (although it has
not done so yet in Physics, where it is most advanced). If/when it does,
my prediction is that publishers will have to restructure and down-size
so as to provide only the service of quality control and certification
[peer review, editing, tagging as accepted by Journal X].

(9) The much reduced cost of providing solely this service will be
recoverable from author-institution publication charges, which will in
turn be recoverable from institutional savings from cancelling
Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View (S/L/P).

(10) The critical difference is that reader-institution-end payment
(S/L/P) is access-blocking, whereas author-institution-end payment is
not. But as long as author self-archiving rights are guaranteed (5,6),
the market can decide whether or not S/L/P can survive alongside it
(and how long).

(11) The infrastructure for self-archiving is emerging as we speak,
led by Los Alamos, soon to be followed by E-bionet, and then all the
other disciplines.

The self-archiving initiative in this very special subdomain of
literature -- the give-away refreed research literature -- is
unstoppable, because ethics, prgamatics, and logic, as well as the
inherent interests of research itself and hence of all of society, are
all behind it. Its progress can only be slowed temporarily by playing
on confusions and uncertainties in people's minds, simply because it is
all so new and they have not yet thought it through. It would be to
publishers' long-term advantage to try to see ahead rather and
restructure accordingly, rather than to try to hold the literature
hostage to the status quo. They must come to terms with what it in the
best interests of research and researchers in the new online world, and
design a new niche for themselves in the PostGutenberg Galaxy.

A tide-over consortial subsidy out of windfall S/L/P savings to smooth
the transition from reader-institution-end cost-recovery via S/L/P to
author-institution-end cost-recovery via quality-control/certification
charges would be worth planning out with the library-institution
and research-funding community in advance.



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

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