Re: Ingenta to offer OAI eprint service

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 19:18:05 +0100

>> is a waste of time ranting and raving against toll-access
>> publishers, overpriced or not: They (including Ingenta) are simply doing
>> what they can and should be doing: Providing toll-access as long as
>> there is a demand for it.

On Fri, 19 Jul 2002, [identity removed] wrote:

> I don't think this is what they should be doing.
> Someone is actively blocking free access to these journals.

No. Someone is (passively) failing to provide free access to their own
contributions to those journals, and that someone is the author of each
and every article appearing therein (with the exception of a growing
number of physicists and a few other disciplines at last beginning to do
the right thing!).

It is very important to understand this causal and strategic point. It is
a disanalogy with the free-software case, because the authors of these
gibe-away texts ARE in a position to provide users with free access
to them without ceasing to publish them also in whatever journal they
like. They are just not doing it yet (in sufficient numbers). We're
trying to encourage them, by showing why, and how. Don't blame the
publishers! It's not their fault. It is the authors who are in the
give-away business, not the publishers.

> Perhaps the publisher does that and Ingenta does not itself have any say.
> But it seems likely that the awareness that Ingenta and similar companies
> exist encourages the journal publisher to block free access.

Nothing of the sort. Publishers are not blocking free access, they are
simply not providing it. That is not their business. Their business is
to sell books and journals, on-paper and on-line. For books, most of
their content-providers (the authors) do not want to allow free access
to their texts; they want to sell them, and they want a cut in the
royalties. We've discussed this before, but this is not the authorship
nor the texts we are concerned with here. We are concerned with the
authors of the 2 million annual articles published in the planet's
20,000 peer-reviewed journals. Every single one of those authors writes
for impact alone (i.e., for having their research read, used, cited,
built upon), and not for royalty income from sales.

It is the failure of those authors (to date) to provide free access
to their own give-away work that we are trying to remedy. That is not
the fault of the publishers; nor is it in publishers' hands to remedy
it. (Eventually, under pressure of competition from the free self-archived
versions, publishers may be constrained to downsize and convert to
open-access publishing, but right now, when their authors are not
bothering to do it, why should publishers?)

> It is also possible that the contracts journal publishers sign with
> Ingenta commit the journal publisher not to allow free access. If it
> is so, Ingenta might be directly responsible for the continuing
> absence of free access.

Ingenta may well have access-restricting contracts for the contents it
gets directly from publishers, but that is not our concern. Our concern
is the content provided by authors themselves, self-archived in their
own institutional Eprint Archives (which some institutions may wish to
pay Ingenta to install and maintain for them).

But this is all still barking up the wrong tree (and I'll bet it will
unleash another tedious round of copyright worries and warnings, all
irrelevant, all rehearsed endlessly, along with publisher-baiting,
while the real and eminently doable work -- self-archiving -- remains
to be done!)

> You might find it interesting to investigate and see if this is so.
> Your opinion of Ingenta might change.

For me, the only relevant aspect of Ingenta is their role as a
service-provider for those universities who wish to self-archive
their research output in Open Access Eprint Archives but would like to
outsource the installation and maintenance of their Archives. Nothing
else Ingenta is doing is relevant to this. The service may fill a niche
whose emptiness until now might have been one of the reasons keeping
the Archives near-empty. The only relevant consideration is whether it
will now help to fill them.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Jul 19 2002 - 19:18:05 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:35 GMT