Re: Financial Times Article on Self-Archiving: 23 July 2001

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 11:25:56 +0100

> From the recent Harnad/henderson controversy (sorry about the late
response, I've been on vacation):

> "virtually" doesn't make it so. Garvey and Griffith found
> "two thirds of the technical reports produced in 1962 had
> not achieved journal publication by 1965, and, apparently,
> the contents of the vast majority of these reports were
> never submitted for journal publication. Many authors of
> such reports indicated that 'no further dissemination of
> the information was necessary.' ... This raises some
> questions about the ultimate value of the information in
> these reports and its relevance to the established body
> of scientific knowledge." [from Garvey, COMMUNICATION:
> THE ESSENCE OF SCIENCE. Pergamon 1979]

The Garvey & Griffith study was a seminal piece of information science
research in its time, and is still worthy of respect today as part of the
historical context. This particular paragraph from it, however, was
talking about technical reports, the grey literature, not the published
refereed journals. Many technical reports are still produced, especially
by companies in the science-based industries, often for internal use only
for reasons of commercial confidentiality. Sometimes these become openly
available years later, once their content has (for example) been protected
by patenting. They are useful sources of scientific information, and their
certificate of quality is, in effect, the name of the company producing
them. Various projects around the world (e.g. the MAGIC project in the UK)
are working on improving electronic access to grey-literature information.
But this is a different literature from the refereed journal literature,
whose authors are predominantly from academic and other not-for-profit
institutions, and different arguments apply.

Fytton Rowland.

Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.

Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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