(unknown charset) Re: Evolving Publisher Copyright Policies On Self-Archiving

From: (unknown charset) Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 15:53:48 +0000

On Fri, 15 Nov 2002, Hugo Alroe wrote:

> I plan on asking the major publishers what their policies are in relation to
> eprint archives and, since this initiative may impinge on other eprint
> archives, I would be interested in any comments you may have on this.

This will be very useful. A partial list is already at:

> I am not sure if the existing
> publisher policies are sufficiently clear on these issues, however, and I
> have therefore put together a letter to some major publishers, inquiring
> what their policies are in relation to eprint archives (draft letter
> appended below).
> ...
> researchers are
> uncertain about copyright restrictions on postprints and reprints and about
> possible embargo policies that would restrict the possibilities for
> publishing preprints that are deposited in an archive with open access.

It is good to ask publishers to clarify these policies, but your authors
should also be advised of the preprint&corrigenda option, which does not
depend in any way on publishers' copyright policy and is effective even
with the most restrictive copyright transfer policy:

> Our immediate answer is to give them the
> possibility to restrict access to their eprints. Access can be restricted to
> "Registered users only" and even to "Depositor and archive staff only".
> Access restrictions of course go against the open access idea and the
> usefulness of the archive. Our longterm answer therefore includes working
> towards clarifying publishers policies in relation to online archiving and
> changing restricting policies.

Access restrictions do go against open access but they also bring into the
open the conflict of interest between what is best for researchers
and research and what is best for publishers, and bringing that into
the open is a very good thing, and will hasten open access! Let users
(both authors and readers) see exactly where the access-barriers are,
and whose barriers they are.

But let those barriers also always be circumvented by the
preprint+corrigenda strategy too. That is somewhat more inconvenient
for the the author and the users, but it still yields open access, now,
while clearly exposing the source of the inconvenience! It will have a
very positive effect on the evolution of the copyright policies of the
publishers it thereby names and shames!

> Dear Publisher
> We have established an eprint archive in the field of organic agricultural
> research, called Organic Eprints (http://www.orgprints.org). An eprint is an
> electronic document with attached metadata such as bibliographical
> information, publishing details, and abstract. The whole production of
> scientific papers, books, magazine articles, etc. from the Danish Research
> Centre for Organic Farming is to be deposited in this archive from now on.
> The purpose is twofold: to document the production of papers to those who
> finance the research, and to improve the quality of the research and the
> papers by facilitating communication with peers and users. The initiative
> was highly appreciated in a recent international evaluation and other
> organic research organizations may join the archive later on.
> Depositing a paper in the archive does not count as publishing; papers are
> published as usual for this field of research. This is analogous to the
> situation in physics, where a large eprint archive (http://arXiv.org)
> coexists with the traditional physics journals.

This is passage is ambiguous (though it is sorted out in your letter),
because if the deposited eprint is in fact a peer-reviewed postprint, it
is indeed a publication! (The meaning of "publication" is changing in the
online era, where (1) the peer-review function and its certification are
being separated from (2) the archiving and dissemination function. All
of these together used to mean "publication" in paper days. But
it is extremely important to realize that -- for the peer-reviewed
literature only, not the rest, not books, textbooks, magazines, etc. --
the meaning of "publication" is now converging only on "peer-review,
and the certification of its outcome by the journal's name." The rest is
no longer "publication" -- it doesn't "count" for academic and evaluative
purposes, as you note -- it is merely "communication" and access in the
new, online era.)

I suggest making your query very specific when it is about the accepted,
final draft, which has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted by the
journal, i.e., the postprint. And equally specific when it is about
journal policy regarding the self-archiving of the pre-peer-review,
pre-submission preprint (i.e., the Ingelfinger Rule). You should not only
ask these separately, as you do below, but you should set it up in advance,
clearly, in the minds of the recipients, that this inquiry concerns two
things: as one is a matter of copyright transfer policy and the other
is merely a submission policy.

Both replies are of interest, though only the first has any potential
legal standing, and it is important to make this all explicit when you
report the outcome too, if the exercise is to be informative to the
research authors worldwide (i.e, to resolve uncertainty, rather than to
compound it!).

> As a part of our services to the authors who use the Organic Eprints
> archive, we wish to clarify some issues related to online archiving of
> papers. We are especially concerned with copyright issues and any possible
> 'embargo' policies that would restrict the opportunities for getting a
> deposited preprint published in a scientific journal.

Again, this is conflating the question for preprints and for postprints,
and it is also conflating two forms of "embargo." They are later
disambiguated, but here they confuse:

The question should be posed separately from the very outset, for the
case of self-archiving (1) the pre-submission, pre-peer-review preprint,
untouched by the publisher, and (2) the post-peer-review, accepted,
published postprint.

There are also two forms of embargo. One is (1) the prepublication
embargo, often called the "Ingelfinger Rule," a policy (with various
putative justifications, mainly the protection of public health
with certain forms of biomedical literature) of not even considering
for publication a paper that has already been made public in any way
(including self-archiving the preprint). The Ingelfinger Rule is not a
copyright matter but merely a journal submission policy. (It is usually
merely a pretext for protecting subscription revenues by ensuring that
the published version is not "scooped.")

The other is (2) the postpublication embargo -- in this case
entirely in the interests of protecting subscription revenues --
according to which the peer-reviewed postprint cannot be made openly
accessible for a period of the publisher's choice (anywhere from 6
months after publication, to two years, to indefinitely). Publishers
are usually willing to allow open access after their indicated embargo
period, because its span is calculated based on the expected fall-off
of demand with time after the calendar date of the journal issue.

Your letter shows that you already know all this, so I am merely
suggesting that its wording and sequencing might be clarified further so
it is clear from the outset that you are asking separate question preprints
and postprints, and about pre-publication embargoes (Ingelfinger Rule)
and post-publication embargoes.

> We would therefore like to inquire what your policy is on the copyright
> issue and the embargo issue. When we have received your answer, we will make
> your policy known to our users together with our advice to them concerning
> archive deposits and future publishing.

Many publishers will not have thought this through, perhaps not even
thought about it at all previously. I would accordingly suggest
that you refer them to the (progressive!) sample policies documented in
http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#publishers-do and elsewhere, rather
than encouraging unreflective improvisation by way of response!

> The copyright issue
> What is your policy on the depositing of postprints (papers that have been
> accepted for publication after peer review) and reprints (reprints of a
> published paper) in our archive? In particular: do you require an access
> restriction on these eprints?

Fine. You might want to ask them how long they would want it embargoed

> At present, there are three access levels in the archive: open access to the
> internet public, access to registered users only, and access to depositor
> and archive staff only. Archive staff may include editors and evaluators
> that are granted access to papers from a specific organization. The last and
> very strict access level is mainly to be used for source-files and in case
> the author has doubts concerning the two policy issues (this access level is
> obviously not very helpful in making the archive into a communicative tool).
> We would like for our authors to be able to deposit their papers with as
> open access as possible. But we are also aware that it might only be
> possible to give registered user access to reprints of journal papers.

(This passage is (inadvertently!) encouraging journals to start thinking
of licensing even the internal institutional re-use of institutions'
own research output...! )

> The embargo issue
> What is your policy on the depositing of preprints (papers that have not yet
> been accepted for publication after peer review) in our archive? In
> particular do you as a publisher, or any of the individual journals that you
> publish, enforce a so-called 'embargo' policy (a policy that, as a rule,
> excludes preprints that have been deposited in an open archive from being
> considered for publication)?

Fine. Here too it might be useful to give them a sample of the
existing (progressive!) policies on this, to set them thinking:

Good luck on your survey, and please let us all know your results!

Stevan Harnad

> We hope to hear from your soon. If you have not yet decided your policy on
> one or both issues, please let us know that this is the case.
> Kind regards
> Hugo Fjelsted Alrĝe, Administrator of the Organic Eprints archive.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Hugo Fjelsted Alrĝe
> Postdoctoral Scientist
> Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming - www.darcof.dk
> Forskningscenter Foulum
> Postboks 50, DK-8830 Tjele
> Email: hugo.alroe_at_agrsci.dk
> Phone: +45 8999 1679
> Fax: +45 8999 1673
> Personal workpage: www.alroe.dk/hugo
Received on Fri Nov 15 2002 - 15:53:48 GMT

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