Re: Science Article (Roberts et al.) and Science Editorial

From: Greg Kuperberg <greg_at_MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 10:50:05 -0800

On Tue, Mar 27, 2001 at 09:42:30AM +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> (ii) Asking authors to choose which journal to submit their research
> to on the basis of whether or not the journal agrees to give away its
> contents online for free rather than on the basis authors currently
> use -- journal quality, reputation, impact factor -- is again an
> unreasonable thing to ask, and will result in a long, long wait. More
> important, it is an unnecessary thing to ask, as there is already
> a means for authors to achieve precisely the same goal immediately
> without having to give up anything at all: by self-archiving their
> refereed articles themselves, in interoperable, University Eprint
> Archives <>.

In my experience, at least in mathematics, most authors are more likely
to respond to the former than the latter. One could fairly argue that
a journal is going to undermine its reputation and even its "impact
factor" in the long term by restricting, or even trying to restrict,
the distribution of its papers. Maybe most mathematicians aren't phased
by that argument, but many of them would take it seriously.

On the other hand, university-wide e-print archives don't yet have any
credibility at all, and it's not clear if they ever will. First, at most
universities there is no e-print archive. Certainly there isn't one
at UC Davis. And if there were one, why should I believe that central
campus computing would administer it competently? Central computing
has a pretty low reputation on many campuses. I imagine that ours is
not bad relatively speaking. But we've had our share of quarrels even
over the most fundamental issues, like unintelligible balance sheets for
grants and payroll. E-prints are a trivial and arcane topic compared
to getting paid.

In fact it's a little ironic that one of your biggest successes so far
is with the California Digital Library. It's part of the University of
California and it therefore includes the Davis campus. I don't mean to
criticize their use of your software - I'm sure it's useful. But the
CDL is hardly on our radar screen. I would guess that less than half
of tenured faculty at Davis know that it exists.
  /\  Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
 /  \
 \  / Visit the Math ArXiv Front at
  \/  * All the math that's fit to e-print *
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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