Re: EMBO Meeting About the NIH/E-biomed/E-Bioscience Initiative

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 11:02:18 +0100

On Fri, 20 Aug 1999, Fytton Rowland wrote:

> In his comments on the EMBO Meeting Statements, Stevan Harnad said:
EMBO> Journals should make a distinction between the peer reviewed and the
EMBO> freely deposited data; the latter included in text of papers rather
EMBO> than citation lists.
sh> Yes, the peer-reviewed sector should be prominently tagged as such, for
sh> search engines, with the explicit name/volume/issue/page-span of the
sh> peer-reviewed journal that it appears in.
sh> (The rest here is again a red herring: OF COURSE the text will contain
sh> this information, for it is an electronic reprint, containing the usual
sh> citation information along with the abstract and the full text.)
> I think Stevan has misunderstood what this part of the EMBO statement
> meant. He is reiterating the point about distinguishing between refereed
> and not-yet-refereed papers. The way I read it is this. In printed
> journals it has often been the case that the author says "the full
> [crystallographic or whatever] data from this research is deposited in the
> such-and-such depository", with a citation to indicate how that depository
> may be accessed. This occurs because printed journals can't afford to
> print voluminous data. In the electronic version the question doesn't
> arise, because you can put all the data you want in the main paper itself.
> What I think EMBO meant was that, in such cases, the E-Bioscience database
> should distinguish between the content that was actually printed in the
> refereed journal, and the supporting data that was not printed but
> deposited. But all part of the same article. Fytton Rowland

I'm afraid I have to reply that I didn't misunderstand in the
slightest! What Fytton adds is FULLY covered by precisely what I said.

In reminding EMBO that the refereed version is exactly that -- the
verbatim refereed version -- I am pointing out that the "clear
distinction" EMBO are concerned about seeing made is already there,
fully made! All and only what appeared in the refereed version is what
appears in the self-archived refereed sector of the Archive. Everything
else (unrefereed preprints, archived data-sets, commentaries, replies,
corrections, updates) did NOT appear in the refereed version; and
everything will be prominently tagged/sectored as such.

That's all there is to it. The thought that there was still something
that needed to be further disambiguated arises from a continuing
misunderstanding (sometimes unwitting, sometimes wishful/willful) of
exactly what such an Author Auto-Archive is and isn't, does and

The only substantive issue here is this: There is a prematurity in the
original NIH/E-biomed proposal concerning official cooperation with the
established journals. The Archive will never come into existence if it
waits for such an official advance arrangement with many, let alone all

The first phase of the Archive will be, like LANL, a Self-Archive for
authors. THEY alone will see to it that their refereed and unrefereed
material is deposited therein (and THEY will do the tagging).

No, this is not a failsafe measure for ensuring that the refereed draft
is indeed the official one, but it is good enough as a first
approximation and will set us firmly on the course, exactly as LANL
did, toward the optimal and inevitable -- and there will be no turning

The endstate will be the one LANL is only reaching lately, with
official journal overlays authenticating the refereed sector. But we
have miles to go yet, through self-archiving, before the established
bioscience journals have any reason to come to the negotiating table
with the proposed NIH Archive.

Nor, ceterum censio, should current journal copyright policies be
allowed to hold back the self-archiving initiative, any more than they
did LANL.

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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