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

From: Albert Henderson <chessNIC_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 08:57:37 -0400

on 31 Jul 2001 Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK> commented:
> 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.

        The quotation is pointed directly at the continued use of
        the mislabeled "archive" of physics/math preprints, just
        moved into the private sector, as a very modern model of
        successful self-archiving.

        My comment also quoted and directly followed Harnad's passage reading:

> But virtually all of the self-archived preprints in arxiv are
> submitted to refereed journals, revised in accordance with the referees'
> recommendations, and if the author judges the changes substantive, the
> corrected final draft is self-archived too; otherwise, the reference is
> merely updated to make it the formal journal bibliographic citation.

        Garvey and Griffith's first findings of the disconnection between
        informal and formal publication was in the area of psychology,
        where industrial activity is minimal. A more recent study, of
        biomedical conference proceedings, also found many papers never
        submitted, never published.

        I also cited a recent study of medical research:

> A recent study produced similarities to this data and
> also called into question the value of citing informal
> papers as if they were a part of the formal literature.
> [Callaham, M.L., et al. J A M A 1998. 280:254-257]

        Thanks for helping me clarify that studies of historical
        significance continue to be relevant.

        Why not produce hard evidence that Harnad's above claim
        is true:

> But virtually all of the self-archived preprints in arxiv are
> submitted to refereed journals, revised in accordance with the referees'

        and applies to the science literature generally???

        Best wishes,

Albert Henderson

Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:11 GMT