Self-Archiving Refereed Research vs. Self-Publishing Unrefereed Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2001 13:19:57 +0100

On Tue, 7 Aug 2001, George Lundberg wrote:

> many articles
> (and many journals) are intended to educate practicing physicians as to how
> they should treat patients. These readers (the great majority of biomedical
> journal readers) are very different from physicists and mathematicians as
> described in this forum. And the stakes of what happens to the participants
> in this forum and to their families when they become ill and must receive
> medical care are also very different. I would be greatly averse to having
> my doctor treating me based on some ??published self-archived article.
> Therein lies one of the principal rubs in this discussion.

The above is an excellent rationale for retaining peer review (in
physics as well as biomedicine), in fact I've used it myself:

    Harnad, S. (1998/2000) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature
    [online] (5 Nov. 1998)
    Longer version in Exploit Interactive 5 (2000):

But this Forum is not proposing to do away with peer review, only with
the fee-based access-barriers to the outcome of the peer review, the
refereed, published research report.

Why does George Lundberg imagine that patients are more at risk if the
peer-reviewed, published research on the basis of which they are
treated is accessible online for free?

And what is the difference between physics and biomedicine in this
regard? I see none whatsoever.

The primary motivation for freeing the refereed, published research
literature by publicly self-archiving it online is that barrier-free
public access is optimal for research and researchers. It also happens
to be useful for other kinds of users (e.g. practitioners and
students), but what is the "rub"?

Or is this still just the usual conflation of the self-archiving of
refereed research with the self-publishing of unrefereed research?

For the tradition, and perhaps also the motivation, behind this
persistent conflation in biomedicine, see the following, concerning the
"Ingelfinger Rule":

    Harnad, S. (2000) E-Knowledge: Freeing the Refereed Journal Corpus
    Online. Computer Law & Security Report 16(2) 78-87. [Rebuttal to
    Bloom Editorial in Science and Relman Editorial in New England
    Journal of Medicine]

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in
    the Future of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. Lancet
    Perspectives 256 (December Supplement): s16.

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):

You may join the list at the site above.

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

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