Re: Open Archiving: What are researchers willing to do?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 17:31:21 +0000

On Tue, 16 Nov 1999, Marvin Margoshes wrote:

tw> From: Thomas J. Walker <tjw_at_GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU>
tw> To find out what those attending my two most recent talks were willing to
tw> do to promote free access, I asked in a questionnaire if they would...
tw> (3) post their old articles on their home pages without permissions from
tw> copyright-holding publishers? [80% would]
mm> Interesting that 80% said that they will break the law.
mm> Is ignorance of the law or something else behind this?

I think it is the very opposite of ignorance that is behind this.

It is an awakening to what is actually at stake here for research and
researchers, and how fundamentally different the copyright function is
for the fee/royalty-based literature, for which it was intended, as
opposed to the give-away literature that is at issue here: the refereed
journal literature.

Eighty percent indicate that they will self-archive their papers in any

(1) This agrees with the 9 years of de facto practise by over 100,000
physicists in the Los Alamos Archive:


This has led me to formulate the "Los Alamos Lemma":

    If you think you know an alleged obstacle to public self-archiving
    -- let us call the obstacle "X" [X could be copyright,
    preservation, plagiarism, whatever], an obstacle that must allegedly
    be overcome before we can self-archive, and yet X did NOT stop Los
    Alamos, then X is not an obstacle to public self-archiving."

(2) It agrees with the fact that, unlike books written for royalties or
fees, refereed journal articles are and always have been GIVE-AWAYS on
the part of their authors. Copyright can be assigned to publishers
insofar as SELLING the research reports (on paper or online) is
concerned, but authors must certainly retain their right to give their
own research reports away for free.

    Bachrach S. et al. (1998) Intellectual Property: Who Should Own
    Scientific Papers? Science 281 (5382): 1459-1460. September 4
    1998. <>

(3) It confirms that the conflict of interest (the "Faustian Bargain")
between research and publishers is so great here that there can be no
doubt as to the just and inevitable way in which it will be resolved:
in favor of research, now that access fees are no longer either
the only or the best way to cover the small costs of refereeing and

    Harnad, S. (1998) On-Line Journals and Financial Fire-Walls. Nature
    395(6698): 127-128

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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