Re: ACS meeting comments on e-prints

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 14:35:16 +0100

On Wed, 5 Apr 2000, Albert Henderson wrote:

> on 5 Apr 2000 Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> [snip]
> > And Floyd Bloom (and Albert Henderson, who apparently like to quote
> > one another) have been answered, both in this Forum, and in print:
> >
> > Henderson/Bloom/Henderson:
> > "It may be instructive to recall an earlier congressional
> > reaction, as Albert Henderson, editor of Publishing Research
> > Quarterly did in his response to E-biomed on 6 May. In the
> > Sputnik aftermath, an E-biomed-like proposal was made that
> > Congress accelerate U.S. scientific research by establishing a
> > unified information system similar to what had been created in
> > the Soviet Union. The Senate's advisory panel responded: "The
> > case for a Government-operated, highly centralized type of center
> > can be no better defended for scientific information services
> > than it could be for automobile agencies, delicatessens, or
> > barber shops." Surely other creative solutions can be found to
> > what NIH considers problems. Are they prepared to listen, or is
> > this a done deal?
> >
> > Reply:
> > "Both Dr. Henderson and Dr. Bloom might benefit from being reminded...
> > that unlike the producers of cars, bagels and haircuts, the producers
> > of refereed journal articles wish to give them away for free. And there
> > is no earthly reason why any government should not wish to help them do
> > so, to the eternal benefit of science and society worldwide."
> >
> [snip]
> If this were true in the Western world, life would
> be much different.
> Dr Harnad confuses the absence of cash with "giving
> away for free."

I mean "giving away for free" and it has nothing to do with West
or East. Authors of refereed journal articles (unlike wuthors
of books and magazine articles) give their papers to their publishers
for free (not for fee nor for roylties), they do so only in order to
have them quality-controlled and certified (QC/C) and then disseminated
to everyone who wants to read them. They also give them away free as
reprints, even paying the price of postage.

> Authors get value in return for their work.

The question is not whether they get value in return for their work.
(Of course they do, but their work is research, and they don't do it for
publishers, nor for revenue for or from publishers, they do it to make
an impact on the minds and work of other researchers, whereby, among other
things, they advance their own research, careers, and hence revenues.)

The value publishers add, always did, and always will, is the QC/C. In
the past, they also provided the best means of PUBLICation (in paper),
but this is no longer true, so this service is now supererogatory.

QC/C is much less expensive than publication, and can be paid for by the
author-institution out of a small portion of the savings from
cancelling paper (and online) subscriptions/site-licenses/pay-per-view [S/L/P].

> They
> compete for dissemination and recognition afforded by
> publication in journals.

They compete for the favorable reports of the peer-reviewers, who likewise referee for

> Their behavior, which
> includes paying subsidies for publication under
> desirable imprints, makes this very clear.

Publication charges in the old paper S/L/P era were insult added to injury.
Once S/L/P is gone, the minimal payment of QC/C charges out of a portion of the
savings will be straightforward.

> What is more aggravating is that U.S. universities begging
> for free dissemination are very rich. The goverment pays
> them $5 billion this year in "reimbursements" for overhead
> connected with research, including libraries. Universities
> then record huge profits and hoard financial assets at the
> expense of excellence. Library patrons go begging ...

This is Albert Henderson's algorithm (spend more on libraries),
reiterated at least as my own (cancel S/L/P, pay only
QC/C, and self-archive in Open Archives).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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