Re: The self-archiving sweepstakes

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 18:24:00 +0000

On Fri, 7 Feb 2003, H.M. Gladney wrote:

> sh> "It has nothing -- repeat, nothing -- to do with either publishers
> sh> or economists: It is purely between the research community and itself."
> Harnad seems to take a narrow and insular view, without declaring it.
> E.g., not all research community members are academics. Those belonging to
> industrial, commercial, and governmental agencies have many factors that
> decide whether or not to publish, and if so, how to publish.

Declaration 1: Neither I nor the open-access movement have anything to say
about what authors -- whether academic or not -- decide *not* to publish.
("Open access" is moot, a fortiori, for research findings that are

Here is a mnemonic: open access is for open-access to otherwise
toll-access research, currently appearing in the planet's 20,000
peer-reviewed journals, and accessible only to those of its potential
users whose institutions happen to be able to afford to pay the access
tolls. Concealed research is accessible neither for fee nor for
free. Its authors are accordingly unlikely to have any interest in
publicly self-archiving it.

Declaration 2: Open access through self-archiving in no way alters *how*
researchers publish, if they decide to publish. They publish in the
journal of their choice. Open access is about making their published
research openly accessible, by self-archiving it. I know of no researcher
who would prefer to have his research used only by researchers whose
institution happens to be able to afford toll-access to it (though I
know many researchers who still think they have no choice about this).

> Furthermore, even university faculty have strong economic motivations in
> their publish-or-not-publish decisions, e.g., holding back information so
> that they can milk it before competitors, winning patent protection, winning
> promotion (leading to micro-publication, which is also called "slicing and
> dicing").

Comparing apples and oranges. About concealment (or delayed publication)
see above. Nolo contendere. Micropublication is another matter, and
irrelevant. Open-access is for both micropublications and

Nor (to head another red-herring off at the pass) is open access about
publications (like books) for which the author seeks royalty revenue (a
share in the tolls). It is only about the author give-away literature,
written only for impact, not sales-income. And it corresponds more or
less exactly with the contents of the planet's 20,000 peer-reviewed

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Feb 07 2003 - 18:24:00 GMT

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