Re: ePrint Repositories

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 03:10:32 +0100

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 10:14:52 +0100
From: [Identity removed]


Thanks, this will be extremely useful in supporting our internal campaign,
and I will also feed the issues raised to the [deleted] project once it
gets started. I'm happy for you to post to the forum.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stevan Harnad
Sent: 06 June 2002 21:20
To: [Identity removed]

> I've also attached a document which might be of interest to you. We've
> recently been canvassing our academics to raise awareness of OAI
> developments, and to guage levels of opinion and likely support for such a
> service. The attached document summarises the comments that we've received.
> I'd be interested in your perspective on how the issues raised could be
> tackled at a local level.

Here are some quick comments. Please feel free to forward them to the
pertinent parties. I hope it will be helpful:

>> ...concerns about the danger of dilution of quality if non-peer reviewed
>> content were to be made available... dangers of this in particular
>> for researchers in the biomedical fields.

No grounds for concern. Unrefereed preprints are clearly tagged as such.
Scholars had no trouble telling apart preprints and postprints on paper; it
is no more of a challenge online. Apples do not dilute the quality of

Some special caution is required for preprints about unrefereed findings
that could possibly be hazardous to human health, but this too can be done
with tags. See:

    Re: Ebiomed/PubMedCentral:

    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.

>> academics will not publish in high impact factor journals if we
>> give them an alternative route to get their research outputs into
>> the public domain

Nonsense! They publish in high impact journals for three reasons, none of
which reasons will change at all when they are given the opportunity to
provide open access to their unrefereed preprints and refereed postprints:

(1) The high impact journals are also the most rigorously refereed journals,
providing the highest quality standards.

(2) The high impact journals are also the highest prestige journals,
providing the greatest visibility and readership.

(3) The high impact journals are also the ones that provide the highest "CV"
value for employment, promotion, tenure, funding and prizes.

Low impact journals in which it is easier to publish have always been there
as an option, but scholars (and their employers and funders) know very well
that along with the advantages of that option come many disadvantages,
including the loss of (1)-(3) above.

Providing open access to one's research through self-archiving is not a
SUBSTITUTE for publishing it in the highest quality peer-reviewed journal
but a SUPPLEMENT to it; it is a way of maximising the visibility, access
and usage of one's findings over and above what that journal can provide
(because of toll-based access restrictions).

>> future Research Assessment Exercise [RAE] scores will suffer if we allow
>> out researchers to move away from publishing in high impact factor
>> journals.

Indeed they would. But ensuring open access through eprint self-archiving is
not a move away from high impact factor journals; it is a way of further
enhancing impact:

   Harnad, S. (2001) "Research access, impact and
   assessment." Times Higher Education Supplement 1487: p. 16.

>> some RAE panels specifically discouraged Units of Assessment from
>> publishing in anything resembling an 'in-house' journal, or in
>> non-traditional media.

This is a misunderstanding. The RAE rightly stresses that the highest
weight should be given to papers accepted by the journals of the highest
quality and impact. "In-house" journals (and new, unestablished journals,
and established but low quality/impact journals) are simply not the
journals of the highest quality and impact.

And ensuring open access to one's papers -- both preprints and postprints
-- by self-archiving them in one's university's Eprint Archive is not
PUBLICATION at all; it is merely ARCHIVING.

Perhaps this point is more clearly seen if we first refrain from
conflating the pre-refereeing preprints with the post-refereeing
postprints (noting that eprints include both), and then we explicitly
dissociate self-archiving from self-publication by noting that the most
important kind of self-archiving, involving the literature that the
open-access initiative is specifically targetting, is the SELF-ARCHIVING
OF (all of one's peer-reviewed) PUBLICATIONS:

    "1.4. Distinguish self-publishing (vanity press) from
    self-archiving (of published, refereed research)"

>> some concerns expressed about the possible duplication and/or
>> overlap with other existing services (especially in the Physics
>> area).

No need for concern. Eprint Archives are OAI-compliant, hence interoperable,
hence archiving something in any of them is like archiving it in all of
them. Physicists who have already self-archived a paper in the Physics
Archive need not bother self-archiving it anew in their University Eprint
Archive. The link in their online CV can be made to the paper's URL
regardless of which OAI-compliant Eprint Archive it happens to be sitting

This "concern" is putting the cart before the horse. The physicists
who have already had the good sense to self-archive their preprints and
postprints are not the problem. It is the non-physicists (and physicists)
who have not yet done so who are the problem. And it is for them that
the distributed University Eprint Archives are meant to be the solution,
with the help and encouragement of their universities.

    "How can an institution facilitate the filling of its Eprint Archives?"

>> varying success in attempting to re-negotiate copyright agreements
>> with publishers for themselves....
>> ...certain publishers (eg: Nature)
>> would be extremely unwilling to review their copyright positions.

No need to worry about re-negotiating -- or getting anyone else to
re-negotiate -- any copyright agreements in order to go ahead and open
access to the entire refereed journal literature (of 20,000+ journals and
2,000,000+ articles annually):

    "Is self-archiving legal?"

    "What if the publisher forbids preprint self-archiving?"

    "What can publishers do to facilitate self-archiving?"

    "Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy"

    "Re: Academic Press Journal Article Copyright Policy"

    "Evolving APS Copyright Policy (American Physical Society)"

    "Re: APS copyright policy"

    "Association for Computer Machinery Copyright/Self-Archiving Policy"

    "Berkeley Electronic Press's Self-Archiving Policy"

    "Elsevier Science Policy on Public Web Archiving Needs Re-Thinking"

    "Re: Interview with Derk Haank, CEO, Elsevier"

    "NEJM's New Website and New Policy"

>> have a University-wide position on copyright, so that authors had
>> some 'back-up' when negotiating with publishers.

No harm in doing so, but completely unnecessary; and extremely foolish to
treat it as a prerequisite for self-archiving, and sit and wait.

>> prospect of 'author charges' (eg: the BioMedCentral model) was
>> greeted with suspicion and little enthusiasm.
>> ...pressing Research
>> Councils to meet submission costs, if more publishers were to move
>> to an 'author pays' model.

It is quite understandable that authors and their universities should balk
at author charges, and premature to "press" Research Councils (or anyone
else) to pay them. Not only does self-archiving not require anyone to pay
author charges, but if the open access that it provides does one day
eliminate toll-access revenues, then by the very same token they will also
create the annual windfall savings out of which to pay the author charges
(which will only as of that day be necessary).

But well before the day that open access eliminates the last of toll-based
revenues (if that day ever comes) must come the day when open access itself
is available. And what that calls for right now is not an "author pays"
model but an "author self-archives" model!

>> It would be useful if the Evidence data on publishing patterns in
>> the RAE was compared to other factors such as pricing and impact
>> factor.

Yes, it would be interesting to find out whether there is any correlation
between price and impact, but irrelevant to the problem of open access. For
authors' optimal choice of journal will always be based exclusively on
journal quality/impact, not journal price. And the way to get around the
journal price barrier is by self-archiving, not by switching to lower-priced
lower-impact journals.

>> attempts to drive down prices will hurt the learned society publishers
>> who often use profits from publishing to offer value-added services
>> to their members, or to subsidise the running of the society.

An old non sequitur: Once researchers are made clearly aware of the fact
that they are currently subsidising their learned societies' "value-added
services" with their own lost research impact they may well feel that those
services, if they are so valuable, should go figure out some other way of
funding themselves!

>> policies stating the type of publications to be considered for
>> inclusion in the proposed OAI server.

A good idea:

For sure: All peer-reviewed publications.
Advisable: The pre-peer-review preprints of those publications.
Optional: Any other give-away scholarly or scientific work.

>> Where pre-prints are deemed
>> not to be acceptable, this should be made clear in the guidelines
>> for submission provided on the website.

You might also like to state some coherent reasons WHY "pre-prints are
deemed not to be acceptable"...

(It is also advisable to reserve the language of "acceptable/unacceptable"
for the journal peer-review process, and to choose "suitable" or
"appropriate" for the criterion for inclusion in the University's Eprint

>> ...reject articles submitted
>> to the OAI server if they do not fit local collection management
>> guidelines

Again, "submission" and "rejection" are journal peer-review and publication
terms. "Appropriate" or "inappropriate for this archive" might be the more
perspicuous descriptor for the texts in question...

>> not to be seen as an alternative to publishing in high impact factor
>> journals, but is complementary to that process

Indeed. Vide supra regarding substitutes for vs. supplements to
peer-reviewed publication.

>> Library should produce a glossy advocacy leaflet to be circulated
>> with The Reporter, and based on the 'Create Change' leaflets produced
>> by SPARC

I suggest supplementing SPARC's commendable "Create Change" leaflets with
some more advanced and up-to-date strategies too:

    "What You Can Do To Help"

    "Budapest Open Access Initiative"

    "Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions"

    "Self-Archiving FAQ for the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)"

Stevan 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):

Discussion can be posted to:

See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

and the Free Online Scholarship Movement:
Received on Mon Jun 10 2002 - 03:10:32 BST

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