Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 13:51:18 +0000

On Tue, 4 Mar 2003, Steve Hitchcock wrote:

> ... in many cases for authors to reserve a self-archiving right, rather
> than copyright, is sufficient, but not in every case... One example is
> where you might want to [1] reuse data in more than one paper. [T]here are
> cases where research results [2] could be usefully be presented to different
> audiences, where these audiences are understood and the work is carefully
> targetted.

(1) Data *can* be re-used, all one likes. (It is up to the referees to
decide whether there is any point merely re-presenting the data, but if
there is, there is certainly no *copyright* basis for not re-presenting
one's own data -- perhaps suitably reformatted! -- in further publications!)
(In addition, open-access raw-data archiving will soon make it possible
to *link* to the raw data, already openly accessible, rather than just
including tiny subsets of it within the text-length limits of an

(2) As to re-publishing the *text* itself, rather than just the data:
This surely is -- and should be -- primarily a journal-policy matter:
One of the main reasons journals do not wish to re-publish an
already-published paper is that it wastes precious (and freely-given)
referee time to referee, again, a paper that has already been refereed
(and published!) elsewhere. Another reason is of course to protect sales
income (in both directions: the first publisher does not want the second
publisher cutting his sales, and vice versa).

Open access of course goes a long way toward remedying both of these
problems: (1) Data can be self-archived and simply *data-mined*
repeatedly for different publications. (Some form of data-refereeing
will no doubt also co-evolve with the practise of data-archiving.)
(2) And open access to the full-text mitigates or even moots some
of the motivation for duplicate publication.

But apart from that, I would reply to Steve as I did to Pam: Don't
needlessly handicap a huge, important and reachable goal -- open full-text
access through self-archiving -- by holding out for, or insisting upon,
more than is really necessary (i.e., holding out for full copyright
retention, rather than settling for merely the self-archiving right). Open
access is far too important to delay it for that.

If teaching/learning uses are not a justification for muddying the
waters, the author's yen for multiple publication of the same paper
certainly isn't either -- especially in the open-access age!

(The specific problem Steve refers to -- in trying to place our
co-authored paper in more than one journal in order to reach more
than one audience -- is more a publicising problem than a publication
problem [our paper being both a scientometric research paper *and* an
open-access advocacy paper], and it is a symptom of this transitional
stage, where publication plus open-access is not yet quite enough,
because open-access has not yet prevailed, so not everyone is looking at
the open-access version as the locus classicus. Patience! It will come;
impatience now -- about multiple publication, and hence full copyright
retention -- will only delay its coming.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Mar 04 2003 - 13:51:18 GMT

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