Re: Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 13:32:09 +0100

On Wed, 25 Jul 2001, George Lundberg wrote:

> i certainly can agree with one point
> the market will decide
> however i would not count on any "windfall savings" unless there is a
> secure on-going revenue stream
> and that is, of course, a fundamental problem with any "giveaway" product

I am not quite sure what George means here (nor what he is taking me
to mean):

Note that most of this is hypothetical:

The part that is not hypothetical but certain is:

The (hypothetical) windfall savings would be those of the university
libraries, from S/L/P cancellations, if (hypothetically) the online
availability of the self-archived ("giveaway") version of all refereed
articles (if/when most or all of them are indeed self-archived) were to
cause a catastrophic drop in the demand (hence revenue streams) for the
S/L/P version (on-paper, publisher's PDF, publisher's online
enhancements). A portion (be it 10% or 30%) of those university
windfall savings could then be used to pay the costs, on a per-paper
submitted/accepted basis, to maintain the revenue streams for the sole
remaining essential service from refereed journal publishers, namely,
the implementation of peer review.

The only part that is not hypothetical but certain is the preferability
of free access to the refereed research literature (does anyone wish to
contest this?), and the fact that author self-archiving would immediately
provide this (does anyone wish to contest this?).

Now let us unwrap these contingencies, to show how they could fail:

(1) Researchers could fail to self-archive their refereed articles,
hence fail to free them online, despite the potential benefits in
visibility, access and impact. One hopes they will not fail to do this,
and one can keep explaining and facilitating its feasibility, legality,
and optimality, but there is always the possibility that the token will
fail to drop, or to drop in enough researchers' minds, or to drop any
time soon. In that case, the rest is moot.

(2) Even if all refereed research is made available online for free in
OAI-compliant Eprint Archives soon, this may not diminish the demand
for the S/L/P version. In that case, the rest is moot.

(3) But if the giveaway version does generate a catastrophic drop in
the demand for the S/L/P version, as reflected in S/L/P cancellations,
then the annual institutional windfall S/L/P savings are the natural
candidate (though not the only one) for paying the essential
peer-review service costs for that institution's outgoing research papers.

Now the above is what I meant. Can anyone help me interpret what George

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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