"Let Them Eat Cake..." (M. Antoinette)

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_coglit.ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 15:28:27 +0100

Albert Henderson's postings are so wide of the mark that they
tend to answer themselves, by self-caricature. Lately they are
also eliciting flaming, so I'm afraid I have to re-invoke cloture.

(Apologies to those on the list who will keep getting the
rejected postings anyway, because they have been added to Albert's
blind CC list.)

On Tue, 21 Aug 2001, Albert Henderson wrote:

> I am against self-archiving as a substitute for
> libraries, library collections, and librarians.
> Every qualified researcher is (or can be) a member
> of a major research library.

There are 2,000,000+ refereed articles published annually in 20,000+
refereed journals. No library can (nor ever could, while we still
reserve any resources at all for basic subsistence needs!) afford
most of the 20K, and most can hardly afford any at all:


Albert Henderson's recommendation is worthy of Marie Antoinette.

> Moreover, self-archiving opens the door to
> a mess of unreviewed articles which many
> readers are unable to evaluate in terms of
> poor preparation, error, misconduct, and
> fraud. Again, quality of research and
> education will suffer.

See the earlier subject thread in this Forum on not confusing
toll-gating with gate-keeping:

Albert thinks it is toll-gating (Subscription/License/Pay-Per-View,
S/L/P) that is somehow mysteriously maintaining the quality of
research, rather than the more obvious candidate: the gate-keeping of
peer review.

He also thinks that the Have-Nots who cannot afford the gate-tolls
should not get the peer-reviewed results of the gate-keeping either,
even if their authors self-archive them for free, because, who knows,
some of those authors might have lied! Far better to be denied
access to it all while Albert keeps campaigning for diverting more
funds (from somewhere) to pay more tolls.

Meanwhile, "join" a "major research library" that can already afford
the 20K+ -- except that, alas, not only is there not one such library
for every "qualified" researcher on the planet to "join" but there
exists not one such library at all: and there never will be, except
should the click-through oligopoly dreamt of by some vendor-cartels
come to pass, with the planet paying a global site-license for the 20K,
as dictated by the vendor-cartel, and at the expense of whatever other
essential goods and services we would have to sacrifice to fund such

> Finally, your use of the term "give-away"
> is mistaken and misleading -- a major
> fallacy in this forum. Authors give nothing
> away. Although they are not paid in cash,
> authors exchange their reports for recognition
> and dissemination by editors that they value.

Albert has been many times given the chance to explain what the causal
connection is between the cash that is paid for the tolls to access the
refereed research that the author gives away (sic) for free and the
recognition (impact) that the author gets from having researchers
access that research. For the causality looks to be running in the
exact opposite direction: Limit access to only those who can afford the
tolls and you limit recognition (impact) by exactly the same measure.
Self-archiving can at last remedy this, but Albert is alas too
committed to the defense of toll-gating to understand the real causal
connection, and must instead simply repeat incoherent incantations like
the above one.


This Forum really has to get back to substantive matters. I'm sure
that, like Charlie Brown and Lucy's annual football, we will get drawn
into all this yet again, but for the moment, I think we've had

Stevan Harnad harnad_at_cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science harnad_at_princeton.edu
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/

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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