Re: ClinMed NetPrints

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 21:03:25 +0100

On Tue, 22 May 2001, Jim Till wrote:

> I'm especially interested
> in ways to assess the quality of an eprint archive as a whole, not just
> the quality of individual eprints. As in my previous message, I continue
> to ask: what criteria should be used to assess the quality of an eprint
> archive?

An eprint archive is analogous to a library, not to a journal. (Indeed,
journal articles are archived in eprint archives.)

So it is either (i) comparing apples and fruit to seek to assess the
"quality" of an eprint archive (the quality being assessed is actually
the quality of the journals in which the papers appeared -- or rather,
of their those journals' peer-review standards), or (ii) the question
itself is based on an enthymeme (an unstated premise) that is invalid,
namely, that eprint archives are somehow SUBSTITUTES for journals,
rather than mere SUPPLEMENTS for them (freeing their contents online,
before and after peer review).

Archives are no more a substitute for journals and peer review than
libraries are. One can do quality measures for a particular library (or
archive) but what does that prove? In the past (for serials), it showed
how much of the refereed literature that library could afford. In the
new era of distributed, interoperable eprint archives, it shows only
what happens to appear in one arbitrary fragment of the global virtual
library into which the eprint archives are all harvested.

> Another criterion (it seems to me) should be its suitability for obtaining
> citation data. An example, based on the arXiv archive, is provided by the
> Cite-Base search service (
> which (I gather) is based on OpCit citation data, and allows users to rank
> searches for reports in arXiv by citation impact or by hits (see The Open
> Citation Project,

Correct. But cite-base is not measuring "archive-impact" but paper- or
author-impact. And it is measured across multiple distributed archives.

What's needed now is more archives, and the filling of them. The quality
measures will take care of themselves. The more papers are up there,
digitally archived, the more new measures of productivity and impact
they will inspire.

This is the longer version of an article that has just appeared in the
Times Higher Education Supplement:

    Harnad, S. (2001) Research Access, Impact and Assessment.
    Times Higher Education Supplement, May 18 2001.

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

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

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