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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 22:53:17 +0000

> On Tue, 27 Mar 2001 David Goodman <dgoodman_at_phoenix.Princeton.EDU> wrote:
> Having free access after a year is clearly not as good as having it
> immediately. But it is better than never having it.

Agree completely. (Why would you think otherwise? "Too Little, Too Late"
does not imply "Worse Than Nothing".)

> I cannot see how one approach will harm the other. Of course we should
> have free universal archiving, both discipline and university based. But
> while we have the existing journals as they are, let's make
> the best use of them we can.

No harm from boycotts, and if they succeed, they achieve the
same end, the freeing of the literature, as I have said repeatedly.

But there is harm in confusion and uninformedness. Researchers need to
know that boycotts are slow and uncertain, whereas
self-archiving is immediate and certain (and not incompatible with
boycotting, if one wishes).

(And there is definitely potential harm in promoting untested peer review
reform proposals, especially in a climate where fears about compromising
peer review are holding researchers back from self-archiving.)

> People will publish in whatever way gives their work best exposure to
> those who matter to them, and that carry the highest prestige. The
> balance of these two factors will vary from person to person, as well
> as from field to field.

All things being equal, people will do what they are already in the
habit of doing. They need to be informed about the alternatives, the
probabilities, and the consequences. You may be satisfied with the
level of understanding that researchers have of what's at stake here
and what the options are, but I am afraid I am not.

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 the ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):

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Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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