Re: Garfield: "Acknowledged Self-Archiving is Not Prior Publication"

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 15:45:06 +0100

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002, Albert Henderson wrote:

> The critics all seek to "publish first" without regard to whether work
> has been reliably reviewed. It would be refreshing to have them admit
> it for once.

The authors of (for example) the 200,000 published articles in the
Physics Eprints ArXiv publicly self-archived them prior to publication
(as unrefereed preprints) and subsequent to publication (as refereed

To do it, publicly, (200,000 times) is surely, a fortiori, to "admit"
it. Moreover, it has had the intended effect, which is to maximize the
visibility, useage, and impact of their research, e.g.:

To monitor how this is now spreading to the other disciplines, see:

and the Web sector of:

> ...advocates of unvetted preprints [advocate] 'less spending for
> libraries' no matter what the cost to public health, the research
> community and those who earn their living as a benefit of copyright.

No, the proponents and practitioners of open-access to research advocate
public archiving of unrefereed preprints only with special safeguards in
that minority of research that is potentially hazardous to public health
(see below).

The research community is the beneficiary of open access, in terms of
research visibility, usage and impact, and researchers do not earn their
living from copyright earnings (on their refereed research publications).

Moreover, the open-access movement is far more interested in open access
to refereed research after refereeing than before (although both are
beneficial to research).

    Varmus, H. (1999, unpublished) Original Proposal for
    E-biomed (Draft and Addendum) E-BIOMED: A Proposal
    for Electronic Publications in the Biomedical Sciences

    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.

> The... "Ingelfinger rule" ... asserts that unvetted research claims may
> mislead the health community and the general public into ineffective if
> not unsafe practices.

And the open-access movement is aware of this potential risk for this
small minority of the total research corpus, and quite capable of
providing safeguards that do not depend on access-tolls (or their
preservation) for their effectiveness (see above).

> The open [access] archive movement is an arrogant attempt to raise
> the status of informal publication by according automated servers an
> inflated status.

No, it is an entirely modest attempt to remove obsolete and
counterproductive financial barriers to accessing the fruits of
research. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "informal publication."

> Its advocates crave to stand near to publishers whose
> art and skill depends on making a sophisticated series of judgments.

Publishers are essential contributors to the implementation of peer
review, but their art and skill does not lie in the making of the
judgments. Those judgments are made by the peer-reviewers -- researchers
who give away their services for free, just as the authors are researchers
who give away their research papers for free.

> drafts submitted to journal editors are often revised before formal
> publication or rejected outright.

Indeed they are, and that is why all Eprint Archives have the tags
UNREFEREED vs. REFEREED (and JOURNALNAME), so that users can be
guided, just as they were in paper. Archives can also track and mark
versions, as papers undergo revision (before and even after publication:

And an unrefereed paper that is never accepted for publication is just
that. Caveat emptor.

> Critics of the embargo policy, all of whom compete with the policy for
> authors' attention, haven't a chance.

As the (Ingelfinger) embargo policy is both unjustifiable (because so
obviously contrary to the interests of research and researchers, and so
obviously invoked only to protect current access-toll revenue-streams)
and unenforcable (because of the slippery slope from textual precursors
to the submitted draft, and because the editors of peer-reviewed journals,
like their referees and their authors, are us, the researchers, hence
unlikely candidates to want to enforce it, even if they could), authors'
best attitude to it is to ignore it and let it fade away quietly, as it
is doing in any case:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Sep 12 2002 - 15:45:06 BST

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