Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Tabah Albert <tabahan_at_EBSI.UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 11:33:41 -0400

I couldn't help answering a few of Albert Henderson's digs:

> With the sole goal of getting free stuff you hold open the door for
> quacks, cranks, and manufacturers' shills to mingle their garbage
> with reports of good science. The general public (indeed many PhDs)
> cannot distinguish between peer-reviewed articles, serious preprints,
> and informercials made to look like research. Nor does the public
> understand that science is a work in progress.

There is one unannounced rule that, physicists at least, seem to be observing
on the archives: "If you post, you want to be read. If you post junk, no one
will read you again. So you better post good material." Is there better peer
pressure than that? Sure you need peer review, but to correct mistakes or
errors of judgment, more than to stop bogus claims. And the fact that a very
high rate (some 70%) of preprints on LANL become journal articles supports this

> INGELFINGER RULE: Enforcing the Ingelfinger rule aims to assure the
> public whatever degree of good science could be coerced by major
> journals. ...

There is no evdidence that the material posted in preprint archives does not
represent good science. Quite the contrary.
In the curent environment of rapid scientific communication, what the
Ingelfinger rule does is punish those who wait for months until their material
is published. Those who archive and post their preprints are read much faster
and have a more immediate effect. (Look at Steve's Lawrence's piece on Nature's
In many fields such as physics waiting for months before you see your
artcile in print means you become invisible, you get bypassed, and you don't
get cited: You have no impact. If you want to be seen and to be read, you have
to be in the thick of the action. The Ingelfinger rule prevents that.

> Self-archiving is not making science information free. It is already
> free in libraries! If the libraries do their job, they not only make it
> available but they provide professional guides who are able to assess
> the readers and provide information that is appropriate.

Who said libraries are not doing their job? Ever heard of budget constraints
and being forced to cancel journals?

> Obviously the reason the Ingelfinger question never materialized with
> the LANL/XXX server is that differential equations, common in physics
> and math, alienate most readers.

No. It is because unless you post material of high quality you will be
ridiculed and no one will take you seriously again. Physicists are pretty
unforgiving on that account.

> My impression is that university managers don't care about quality.

! ?

Regards to all,

Albert Tabah
University of Montreal

Albert N. Tabah

École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l'information
Université de Montréal
CP 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville
Montréal, Québec, Canada
H3C 3J7

Tel.: 514-343-7204
Fax: 514-343-5753
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:08 GMT