Re: STM Talk: Open Access by Peaceful Evolution

From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMontreal.CA>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 12:13:16 +0000

Dear Stevan,

As usual, I will respond in the paragraphs, below.

Best regards,


Le 21 Février 2003 10:24, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
> On Fri, 21 Feb 2003, Jean-Claude Guédon wrote:
> > The second point you make about the "lament" is not quite right.
> > Libraries do not own local intellectual production, once the copyright is
> > given away to a publisher. Moreover, the "lament" must be read as a
> > macro-statement, not as a lament stemming from any given individual
> > library.
> My dear friend, Jean-Claude,
> The lament is: "We are buying back what we give away." I said this was
> incorrect. For books it is moot, because they are not given away by
> authors but written for royalty. Refereed research is indeed given away,
> but it is not the refereed research output of their own institution that
> a library is buying in, but the refereed research output of all other
> institutions. The lament cannot be read as a collective macro-statement
> by all libraries, because "we" and "our" completely lose their sense if
> construed collectively. Yes, there is a collective resolution to this
> anomaly, but it is the institutional self-archiving of each institution's
> own refereed research output:

Why do "we" and "our" completely lose their sense? I do not understand your

> > Finally, it is true that researchers must stop giving away their refereed
> > research, but you argue as if these researchers were in some ideal world
> > where the choice is purely intellectual.
> Dear Jean-Claude, we are longstanding comrades-at-arms, but we do not
> always understand one another fully: I am not arguing that researchers
> must stop giving away their refereed research! I am arguing that
> they must give it away *more* -- not just to their publishers, for
> free, but to all their would-be users, for free, by self-archiving
> it. This does not require any kind of ideal world. It can be and
> is being done in the real world, by more and more researchers, and
> I am merely trying to accelerate that very sensible intellectual
> choice:

My response is that researchers should give away *access* to their publication
(i.e. for free) to their colleagues, retain their copyright and give or - why
not - sell their texts (non exclusively) to commercial interest if they feel
it can enhance the visibility of their ware.

> (I think what you meant was that researchers must stop giving away the
> copyright to their refereed research,

Indeed, that is what I meant to say.

> but even that is not necessary for
> self-archiving. Only self-archiving is necessary for self-archiving.
> More and more copyright agreements are supporting it, but it can still
> be done even under the most restrictive of copyright agreements.
>0Policies.htm )

That more and more journals are responding more positively to the idea of
self-archiving is true; it may well be part of their fear of alienating
researchers too much. But when they do not, the fear of scholars is real, the
self-censorhip also. And, moreover, in many countries, your idea of
self-archiving the pre-refereed version plus the corrigenda would not hold in
court, so far as I understand copyright and authors' rights, plus Bern, etc.
Plagiarism rules will most certainly apply and they too are par of the legal
equation. In any case, so long as you do not have a clear court case in hand
in a significant country, preferably the US, your argument remains largely
moot. I would love to believe it; I simply find myself unable to although I
am sympathetic to our common cause (more than sympathetic, actually, as you
well know) and wish it were true.
> > Brought back to earth, where young
> > researchers have to face their departmental chairs, their tenure
> > committees, the juries of the granting agencies, etc., the issue becomes
> > much more complex...
> We are alas talking at cross purposes. You are correctly pointing out
> that researchers must continue to publish in the refereed journals, but I
> agree completely! Self-archiving is merely a small further step that
> researchers need to take, in addition to publishing in the refereed
> journals, as always.

Indeed, you can self-archive, but self-archiving is *not* always possible for
a mixture of reasons ranging from outright interdiction to simple fear or
even conformity to existing rule. Logically you are right; legally, you are,
at best, in uncertain land; psychologically and within power systems, you are
wrong. In many cases, it will appear as anything but a "small further step".

> > In effect, young scientists need to acquiesce to survive... It is no
> > surprise that the resistance among researchers is limited to a minority
> > of largely senior people.
> But Jean-Claude, this simply is not true! The authors of the 200,000
> papers self-archived since 1991 in are not only senior! Nor
> are the authors of the increasing number of papers self-archived in
> the growing number of institutional refereed-research archives:

My dear Stevan

OAIster, so far as I know, has not published any statistics on the status or
age of the contributors.

On the other hand, remember that if PLOS came to nought in its first
incarnation, it was, I believe, largely because young scientists,
despite all their anger, could not face taking so many risks.

Everyone agrees that the physics community (and not even all of physics
- high energy began earlier than dense matter, for example, for reasons
that, incidentally, I have never seen explained in the literature - anyone
knows otherwise? ) does not quite behave like most other disciplines.
Mathematicians and astronomers follow suit; molecular biologists and
chemists don't. In physics, not only are authors multi-authored (which
happens also in many other disciplines), papers are vetted through
intense lab discussions (which also happen in several disciplines)
and research instruments are often so very rare and costly (which is
found in a few other disciplines such as oceanography and astronomy)
that performing the experiment ensures ownership of the terrain for a
little while. It happens that physics has all three characteristics. Why
should mathematicians should behave as they do remains a little unclear
to me. But is math a science or an exercise poised between logic and
linguistics with a dash of algorithmics thrown in for good measure?
:-) Andrew Odlyzko might be able to answer that, being a member of the
tribe and very savvy in e-pub matters, as well know and admire.

> > Your problem, therefore, is to find a way to convince
> > the young to act with temerity and possible destruction of a budding
> > career,
> To self-archive is to jeopardize one's career? How? Why? (I think that,
> again, you are imagining that I am talking about something else -- about
> giving up publishing in one's preferred refereed journals, publishing
> instead in some other way -- but I am not! I am merely talking about
> self-archiving so as to make one's own refereed research publications
> openly accessible, thereby maximizing their potential impact. That
> is rather a way of *advancing* one's career, is it not, rather than
> jeopardizing it? And it is a *supplement* to what they are doing already,
> not a *substitute* for it.)

I do not succumb to the confusions you suggest. I fully understand the
mechanisms of self-archiving as you propose them. I probably could recite
them in your place by now, if the need should arise and I often mention
self-archiving both positively and in some details. Trust me on that point!
TThis said, if all journals unambigiously agreed that self-archiving is fine
and solemnly declared that it in no way affects publishing in the
corresponding journals, then I might begin to agree with you. We are far from
that. You, yourself, are spending a fair amount of time trying to clarify
issues with publishers, such as Nature, most recently. In effect, you are
trying to clear the way to help convince the hesitating lot to move ahead.
But if they hesitate, it is not just because they do not see things clearly
(or your way), it is because they face real obstacles, locally or nationally.

> > and convince the mature to give up trying to reach a powerful, probably
> > lucrative, position as a gatekeeper for a journal owned by a large
> > commercial publisher.
> I am afraid I have to repeat that this is not at all relevant to what
> it is that I am talking about. Let editors/gatekeepers keep doing
> whatever they are doing; we are not talking about that. We are talking
> about providing open access to the outcome of their gate-keeping system
> by self-archiving. (We must not confuse gate-keeping with the toll-gating!)

The point is that locally ifluential scientists that have advantages of all
kind in being gatekeepers and reamining in that position will or at least can
use that power to influence younger, more vulnerable colleagues. For that
reason, the scientific community is divided. I tried to say that, roughly, it
was divided between the powerful cynics, the vulnerable and the idealists. If
you say that this bears in no way on the problem, it confirms my suspicion
that you want reality to bend to your (superb) logic, rather than the other
way around.

> > Now, in the earlier case, the responsibility, IMHO, rests with the
> > tenure and promotion mechanisms of research centres and administrators
> > have to become aware of this, as well as granting agencies;
> What do tenure/promoting mechanisms etc. have to do with the virtue of
> self-archiving one's own refereed research output -- apart from the fact
> that they will certainly reward the additional research impact
> self-archiving brings?

They certainly won't "certainly reward the additional research impact
self-archiving brings". What allows you to assert this thesis with such

> > in the latter case, we
> > are witnessing publisher tactics aiming at influencing the mechanisms of
> > the "super-promotion" reaching all the way to the (at least partial)
> > buying off of senior faculty. It is because publishers are involved in
> > those mechanisms that affect scientists' behaviour, that I claim that in
> > the real world, one cannot avoid placing at least some of them in the
> > line of sight of our actions.
> Jean-Claude, we are fighting different battles. Our goal is the same --
> open access -- but our means differ. Yours requires confrontations with
> publishers; mine does not. I wish your efforts every success, as they
> too are aimed at the same goal. But you have to forgive me for wanting
> to dissociate my own efforts from unnecessary and distracting battles with
> publishers. For self-archiving, these serve no useful purpose; they waste
> time; they dissipate efforts; and they cloud the vision of what we are
> doing, how, and why (through self-archiving).

I wish you were right as it would save me some difficult battles and
confrontations, but my feeling is that open-access, including with
self-archiving, is not going to proceed well so long as a significant
fraction of researchers actively support the existing system at the exclusion
of all others. I have met the ennemy and it is part of us to parphrase a
well-known Pogo quip. This is why I pursue such "distracting" battles. This
said, I value your clear vision as it often helps me choose my battles, but I
have come to the conclusion that I must wage a few more than you.

> As you see from our own exchanges, some of the lines are still mixed up
> and crossed. I am trying to uncross them, underlining that open access
> through self-archiving involves no battle against publishers, and no
> risk, sacrifice or change of career strategy for researchers, young
> or old. It involves only providing immediate open access to their own
> refereed research output by self-archiving it.

Again, the clarity of your vision, although too logical and not empirical
enough, IMHO, is very precious and useful. But scholarly publishing is not a
logical game and logic only takes you so far. Then comes the messy world of
alliances, politics, battles and tactics.

> >s> Let the research (and library) community exercise the self-help that is
> >s> within their reach, and their goal of OA will be attained, virtually
> >s> overnight. Let them keep shadow-boxing irrelevantly and ineffectually
> >s> with publishers, and OA will remain far off.
> >
> > Let us forget about your "overnight" dream. No one but you believes that.
> You will have to forgive me, dear comrade, for not accepting your advice
> on that...

I quite understand... :-)

> > And let us not forget these gallant fighters that
> > librarians have been all along. Unlike researchers - docile, vulnerable
> > or even venal as many are or cannot avoid being - they have shown a
> > fairly united, strong attitude guided by values that we, researchers
> > would do well to meditate in our own ethos, and they have done so while
> > placed in a "service-rendering" status that has made so many of us,
> > researchers, so very arrogant with them.
> Far from forgetting the critical role of librarians in setting the stage
> for open access, I freely admit that it was a librarian, Ann Okerson,
> who first gave me the idea (which I at first rejected as an impossible,
> indeed unrealistic dream) of open access when I was still obsessed
> merely with online access! But it has since become clear that whereas
> the librarians were in a position to bring the *problem* to the research
> community's attention, they were not in a position to *solve* it. That
> depends entirely on the research community (insofar as the
> self-archiving solution is concerned, BOAI-1; for BOAI-2, open-access
> journals, new and converted, publishers it also depends on publishers).

We fully agree on open-access, but have you considered the possibility that
you are a little obsessed again, this time by self-archiving? :-)

> >s> (But of course let their libraries keep trying to strike the best
> >s> day-to-day LTA deal with publishers in the meanwhile.)
> >
> > How dismissive, Stevan!
> It is not dismissive at all. Libraries have to keep dealing with ongoing
> day-to-day reality and needs, and these concern short-term LTA licensing
> negotiations and solutions, not long-term OA, which is completely in the
> hands of researchers (BOAI-1), and researchers+plus+publishers (BOAI-2).

I know you think of BOAI-1 beter than 2 precisely because of the sociological
homogeneity (just researchers) that you ascribe to it; my objection is simply
that even BOAI-1 cannot escape the messy world of a complex technical system
involving a good many varied actors, such as researchers, of course, but also
peers in all colours and stripes (tenure, granting agencies, publishing,
etc...), administrators, librarians and, of course, publishers, also of all
colours ands tripes. In short, where you argue for logical clarity of vision
(and again, this is very useful, in my opinion: I know you have helped me in
this regard), I argue for that plus sociological and historical

> > in your own words, only peer-reviewed articles count as publication.
> > [Hence editors] are not irrelevant to self-archiving since your own
> > suggestions for self-archiving rest on the prior existence of some
> > peer-reviewed version of a given article.
> But self-archiving does not depend on changing the publishers, or the
> journals, or the editors, or the authors' submitting policies and
> choices! It depends only on authors' going ahead and self-archiving!

"Only"? This is the heart of the matter. From a logical stance, again, you are
right. But in real life, have you considered how many dimensions are packed
in that little innocuous "only"?

> >s> And then there is BOAI-1, which is entirely within our own hands, and
> >s> could bring everyone OA virtually overnight (and requires only that we
> >s> persuade *ourselves* to do what is fully within our power to do!).
> >
> > "Our" hands is that of a minority of, largely seniors, neither too venal
> > nor too conformist, not too power hungry, that may, out of a fine sense
> > of idealism that I fully respect and admire, self-archive. How many
> > self-archived articles are there in the world today?
> OAIster reports "1,089,937 records from 142 institutions" but that is an
> overestimate, because some of their records are not full-text and many
> are not refereed research. But there is at least Arxiv (200,000),
> plus CogPrints and the other Eprints Archives (19,000).
>s Then there is ResearchIndex, not yet OAI-compliant, and not all refereed
> research either, but 500,000 and the "gray
> iceberg" consisting of the hundreds of thousands of refereed papers that
> have been self-archived on authors' own websites (but not yet countable and
> searchable because not yet OAI-compliant).

Yes, but what are the real demographics? Research is needed here, I believe.
In any case, you cannot answer by just relying on the existence of archives
in the 10^5 range.

> Some minority (to paraphrase Churchill), some seniors!

You have no proof that, in the archives you mention, the representation of
young professors and researchers is adequate; neither do you anything about
their working environment and circumstances. In other words, your statistics
are too macro to lend themselves to a useful interpretation.

But this is good fun, dear friend. It helps sharpen the ideas before we meet
the big bad publishers... :-) or, in your case, our colleagues. Good luck (no
irony here).

Warm regards,

Jean-Claude Guédon
Littérature comparée, Université de Montréal
Tél. : 1-514-343-6208
Fax : 1-514-343-2211
Received on Mon Feb 24 2003 - 12:13:16 GMT

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