Elsevier's ChemWeb Preprint Archive

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGPRINTS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 12:18:17 +0100

On Sat, 2 Sep 2000, Jim Till wrote:

> There's an interesting article in the current issue of Science, by Robert
> F. Service, entitled: "Chemists Toy With the Preprint Future" (Science
> 2000; 289(5484) 1 Sept, 1445-1446) at:
> http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/289/5484/1445a
> "Last week, the giant publishing house Elsevier Science launched the first
> electronic archive for chemistry preprints through its ChemWeb
> subsidiary".
> "Elsevier's own journals will publish articles that appear first on
> ChemWeb. Indeed, Elsevier--which is ACS's chief competitor in the
> chemistry journal publishing business-- may be counting on ChemWeb to give
> its journals an edge among some chemists".
> So, the incentive for authors is that they can, if they submit an article
> to an Elsevier journal, avoid the policy of American Chemical Society
> journals (such as JACS) that posting preprints on ChemWeb would be
> considered to be "prior publication".
> The full text of papers will be deleted from the site after publication in
> a conventional journal, but an abstract and a link to the journal article
> will be retained.
> The ChemWeb chemistry preprint server can be reached via:
> http://preprint.chemweb.com

The Elsevier policy of publicly archiving pre-refereeing preprints
could be a good first step towards the optimal and inevitable, but it
is also possible that it is intended as a Trojan Horse, designed to
keep holding the refereed literature hostage, behind the financial
firewalls of Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View (S/L/P):

(1) Most publishers now have a digital, online edition of their
journals, so that is no longer an issue; the issue is freeing all
refereed papers from the financial firewalls of S/L/P.

(2) Many journals are now planning to shorten publication lag by making
the accepted final draft available on-line as soon as it is accepted
(i.e., before copy editing, composition, mark-up) -- but only to those
who have paid S/L/P.

(3) More and more journals are now abandoning the arbitrary,
unjustifiable, and (most important) unenforceable "embargo" policies
(also called the "Ingelfinger Rule") that had attempted to intimidate
authors into not self-archiving their pre-refereeing preprints. (The
Ingelfinger Rule, unlike Copyright Transfer, never had any legal status
in any case.)

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in
    the Future of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. Lancet (in

(4) Elsevier appears to be offering to archive authors' refereed
preprints for them, which is a welcome confirmation of the end of the
Rule of Ingelfinger -- but it is also planning to remove those
preprints when the final draft is accepted.

(5) There is neither any need or justification, nor any benefit to
researchers and research from step (4) (the removal of the publicaly
archived preprint when the final draft is published).

(6) The final draft is behind the S/L/P firewall, hence not publicly
accessible, as the preprint had been.

(7) A prominent link from the preprint to the final refereed draft that
superseded it would have been quite sufficient.

(8) And here is the Trojan Horse: In taking the chore of
"self-archiving" the preprint out of the authors' hands, Elsevier
retains control over the preprint, and can remove it, thereby preventing
the author from using the legal Harnad/Oppenhein (H/O) strategy for
self-archiving the refereed final draft too:

(9) H/O Strategy: First publicly self-archive the unrefereed preprint,
then, when the final draft is accepted, publicly self-archive that too, if the
journal copyright agreement allows it, or self-archive the "corrigenda"
if it does not, linked to the preprint. (The corrigenda list for the
reader any changes that need to be made to the preprint to conform it
to the final accepted draft.)

(10) So if the preprint is publicly archived permanently, the refereed
literature is freed; if it is not, it is not. That is the Trojan Horse
inherent in the Elsevier policy.

(11) But authors need not worry about that. Let them, in addition to
having it publicly archived (temporarily) in the Elsevier Archive,
also self-archive it permanently in an Open Archive
(http://www.openarchives.org) established explicitly for author
self-archiving at their home institutions (http://www.eprints.org).

(12) Parallel archiving is always nice, just in case one of the archives
turns into a vanishing Trojan Horse...

Stevan Harnad harnad_at_cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science harnad_at_princeton.edu
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/

NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature is available at the American
Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):


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

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