Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 17:26:54 +0100

On Fri, Jun 29, 2001 at 06:03:29PM +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> On Fri, 29 Jun 2001, Bernard Lang wrote:
> > publishers have outlived their economic usefulness, at least where
> > publication of scientific papers [is]... concerned. Hence there is no
> > reason any money should be spent on them.
> I don't think this is correct.

I stand by my statement, see below.

> First of all, we are not speaking of all manner of publishing, by any
> means. Just the very minoritarian (but not insignificant) annual corpus
> of about 20,000 refereed journals.

which I sumarily took into account by restricting to "publication of
scientific papers" ... does that exceed the corpus you indicate ?

> Second, even for that corpus, it is not the case that its publishers
> have "outlived their economic usefulness." The publishers of these
> 20,000 refereed journals have two functions. They provide (1) a SERVICE
> (quality-control/certification [QC/C], consisting mainly of the
> implementation of peer review) and (2) a PRODUCT (the on-paper or
> on-line published draft).


> What has outlived its economic usefulness is the forcible COUPLING of
> these two functions, providing the quality-control service and the text
> product.


> The service is an ESSENTIAL one (if we are to have a REFEREED corpus at
> all). The product is merely an OPTION.

and why should the quality-control service be provided by publishers ?

My view is that they can provide it if they wish and manage to sell
it. But it can actually be provided by any individual, any
organization, who cares, for a fee or for free, with or without
   Of course, incompetent quality control will be known as such fast
enough. Since there can be multiple, competing, quality controls, the
better ones will emerge. And there can be quality control on the
quality control (like assessing the quality of journals). But in fact
a much more open and dynamic system that what we have now.

> The two -- the essentials and the options -- must be decoupled.
> Publishers are unlikely to decouple them voluntarily; and in any case,
> waiting around for publishers to do that is a waste of precious time
> (and of potential research impact for all those papers that are otherwise
> inaccessible to so many of their potential users, lodged behind the
> financial firewalls of subscription/license/pay-per-view: S/L/P).

probably, but not relevant to my point


> Then, if the day arrives when there is no longer any market for the
> OPTIONS (paid for by institutional S/L/P), then refereed-journal
> publishers can downsize to become providers of only the ESSENTIAL QC/C
> service, paid for by the author-institution out of 10% of its 100%
> annual windfall S/L/P savings.

why them ?

Bernard Lang

         Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
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         Je n'exprime que mon opinion - I express only my opinion
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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