Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 17:27:04 +0100

On Fri, 29 Jun 2001, Bernard Lang wrote:

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

Because they are providing it now. And there is nothing wrong with it
(except the extras forcibly wrapped in with it).

> 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
> competence.

Of course. But those who wish to free the refereed corpus would like to
have it done with competence. We do not want to replace the refereed
literature with a Vanity Press.

> 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.

What's wrong with the quality control we have now? And wouldn't new
quality-control methods have to be tested first? And what about the
freeing of the 20,000 while we are waiting for the outcome of such

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

I don't understand: Why should it be the publishers who implement the
quality control? Because they are the ones doing it already. And
whoever does it is the "publisher". Why paid for by the
author-institution? Because they would have the windfall savings of
100% out of which to pay the 10% peer review cost. They are also the
beneficiary (in research impact) of freed access.

I don't think journal publishers are villains, and I don't think peer
review needs to be changed (urgently). What is urgent is freeing the
peer reviewed literature, such as it is, now. Peer review reform is
another matter, an empirical one, and the two should not be coupled in
any way.

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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