Open Archives Initiative

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 18:15:56 +0000

> Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 15:25:57 -0500
> From: Antonella Pavese <pavese_at_SHRSYS.HSLC.ORG>
> I have been following the discussion of the September98 forum with
> great interest for quite a while, and I am trying hard, as a young
> scientist, to work in a way that can sustain your initiative. My papers
> are on your Cogprint server. I discuss with my colleagues about these
> issues. However, when it comes to publish a paper, things become very
> difficult.

Dr. Pavese raises some extremely important and pertinent questions, and,
as a working researcher, highlights virtually all of the substantive
issues under discussion in this Forum. Her plaint is well-timed, as it
coincides with today's official release date of the Santa Fe Convention
for Open Archiving:

as described in two important articles in February's D-lib:


I will reply to the best of my ability, but I urge others also to bring
their own knowledge and expertise to bear on these pressing current

> I would like to emphasize how bad this system is for young scientists.
> One very visible problem is that scientific information produced by us
> is hidden and sold only to institutions that can afford to buy it (I am
> sensitive to this issue, because I am currently working in a small
> research institute with limited resources and no possibility to buy
> expensive subscriptions to many important journals). I found myself in
> the ridiculous situation of not being able to read a paper that I wrote
> because my institution did not have a subscription for that journal!

The above says it all, in a nutshell: Research is conducted and
reported so that it can have its deserved IMPACT, on other researchers
and on research, primarily, and, secondarily, on the reporting
researcher's career. Both these goals are gravely and NEEDLESSLY
disserved by the gratuitous economic access-barriers of the present
refereed journal publication system.

Instead of taking this give-away research, and, after verifying and
certifying its quality, making it available to all researchers who may
wish to access it, the current journal publication system holds it
back, to be sold, like a commercial product, only to those who are
willing and able to pay. The author and the author's supporting
institution give it away, and then they, and everyone else, need to buy
it back (without making a penny on it -- or wishing to).

This situation is grotesque, and we have been putting up with it until
now for one reason, and one reason only: It is the quite normal and
prevailing economic model for the much bigger TRADE (i.e.,
NON-giveaway) literature of books and magazines, for which it is
perfectly appropriate; until very recently, there has not been any
alternative economic model for the anomalous giveaway literature.
Instead, if giveaway researchers were to have their reports made
publicly accessible (i.e., published) at all, they had to accept the
access-barriers that paid the costs of the whole expensive process of
publication as a regrettable but unavoidable fact of life, in the
Gutenberg age.

But those facts have now changed, in the PostGutenberg Galaxy of
Scholarly Skywriting! It is now possible to dissociate the provision of
the SERVICE of quality Control and Certification (QC/C) from the
provision of the PRODUCT of print (on-paper or on-line). Researchers'
institutions can pay for the QC/C service (out of their annual serials
cancellation savings) and handle the dissemination of their give-away
product (the refereed papers) through open archiving instead of letting
access to the research continue to be blocked by the financial
firewalls of (non-research) interests currently vested in continuing to
sell it as a product, exactly as if it were just another piece of the
normal, NON-giveaway literature.

What is keeping researchers from make this inevitable transition to
what is optimal for their research immediately?

> the reason I am writing is to ask advice on how to escape the
> strict rules that govern our publications. I have a paper that I am
> thinking to submit to one of the APA (American PSYCHOLOGICAL
> Association)journal. This is a literal citation from the instructions
> to authors of Neuropsychology, an APA Journal:
> Under copyright law, the transfer of copyright from author to
> publisher must be completed before any article can be published in
> Neuropsychology. The transfer of copyright enables the publisher to
> assure maximum dissemination of the author's work (SIC!). Copyright
> forms are sent to all authors prior to acceptance and must be
> signed and returned to the Editor's office immediately. U.S.
> government employees must sign the section of the form stating
> exemption from copyright laws. Alterations to or substitution for
> the form are not acceptable. All authors must sign this form to
> verify authorship.
> I am not the only author in the paper, and I have to follow the
> suggestions of my advisor, who thinks that Neuropsychology is a good
> fit for our paper. It does not seem to me that we have much choice. If
> we want our article to be published we HAVE to sign the copyright
> transfer and we CANNOT alter or substitute the form. I guess one way is
> to choose another journal, but unfortunately this type of policy is
> enforced by all the major journals in psychology.

You are in luck. The American Psychological Association
<> is a Learned Society, not a trade publisher. So,
although all big and successful publishers tend to want to do things
the same way they always did, the Learned Societies will come around
once they (and their all-important memberships, which is US) come to
realize what is really at stake here, and what is in the best interests
of research and researchers. There is definitely a conflict of interest
here (between what is best for research and researchers vs. what is
best for publishers' current revenue streams and modera operandi), but
in the case of the Learned Societies, there is no doubt about which way
that conflict of interest will be resolved.

By way of an example, a Learned Society that is somewhat more advanced
than the APA along this road to the optimal and inevitable outcome for
research is the American Physical Society
<> It already allows public
self-archiving of both unrefereed preprints and refereed reprints. All
Learned Society publishers will do so before long; and those of the
trade publishers that survive the downsizing to becoming QC/C service
providers only will likewise do so.

But this does not solve the young researcher's problem now. My own
advice is NOT to submit instead to a lower quality/impact journal.
Submit to the journal of your choice AND:

(1) ALWAYS publicly archive your unrefereed preprint when you submit it
for refereeing.

(2) Once it is refereed, revised, and accepted, try to retain the right
to self archive by rewriting the copyright transfer agreement as
indicated in:

(3) If the journal refuses to publish your paper unless you transfer
full copyright, go ahead and transfer it, and then:

(4) Publicly archive a second version of your original, publicly
archived, unrefereed preprint, together with a list of the changes that
were made in order to turn it into the refereed version. (Alternatively,
archive an enhanced, expanded version of the refereed final draft, with
some more data, figures, references and hyperlinks, and append to it a
list of the changes that were made to the refereed draft, to turn it
into the enhanced update.)

The above is in compliance with the copyright transfer agreement.
It is not convenient, but it meets most immediate objectives, and will
soon usher in the optimal and the inevitable. Meanwhile, the literature
will be freed, and the research community will become addicted to its
newfound benefits, as the Physics community has already done:

If the journal also happens to have an embargo on the open archiving of
unrefereed preprints, see the following for advice on how to get around
that; but note that embargo policies are not legally binding, hence
should not be a source of too much concern.

> Another very serious issue associated with our current publishing
> system, however, is that of the geological times required to publish
> any work. If one wants to publish in one of the leading journals in our
> area, for example the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human
> Perception and Performance, it may take many months just to receive the
> reviews, and even after complete acceptance, the waiting time for
> publication is more than one year. This means that it takes AT LEAST
> three years of work to see your work published. Reading the current
> literature is like to watch a far star: what you see is what happened
> many years ago.

Although implementing online refereeing by journals will speed up the
peer review somewhat, spreading the nets wider and faster, and
distributing the refereeing load more equally, refereeing delays are as
unavoidable as other delays in the duties of heavily loaded researchers.
Please do not confuse the delays inherent in the use of a finite human
resource, referees, who referee for free, with the other delays of
publication, which are no longer necessary (such as the delay in
coming out in print, or the delays inherent in the need to resort to
interlibrary loan if one's institution cannot afford a subscription).

> these delays create a lot of problems to
> young scientists that are trying to look for a job....
> Making the paper immediately available on the internet
> would also solve the problem of the temporal delay between the moment a
> work is completed and the time it is available for the scientific
> community.

The delay inherent in getting your findings competently refereed and
certified is worth the wait; but none of the rest is. Open archiving of
the preprint solves part of the problem; immediate open archiving of the
refereed reprint solves the rest.

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

NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of "Freeing the
Refereed Journal Literature Through Online Self-Archiving" is available
at the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99):
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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