Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 14:36:00 +0100

On Mon, 16 Jun 2003, Fytton Rowland wrote:

> >sh> the author population is exactly the same as the referee
> >sh> population
> That statement is untrue. Not all authors referee, either for one
> particular journal, or at all. Remove "exactly" and replace it with
> "substantially" and it might become true.

Fytton is quite right. And this also leaves the point I was making
substantially true: Authors and referees are substantially the same
population, so if referees make appeal X to journal publishers then it
is substantially the same people making appeal X if the referees add
their voices (mutatis mutandis for a few journals).

This does not at all mean that it is not a good idea to make the research
community's wishes known to journal publishers, whether they are wearing
their authors' hats, their referees' hats or their readers' hats. My
points were these:

(1) Insofar as the right to self-archive preprints and/or postprints is
concerned, there is no longer any substantial obstacle. 55% of journals
officially support it already; most of the rest will agree on an
individual article basis if asked; and for the few that do not, there
remains the preprint+corrigenda option:
That was also the very ecumenical sense at the STM publishers' meeting
in Amsterdam:

So, insofar as self-archiving is concerned, the publishers do not
appear to be what is slowing us up! What effort we choose to devote to
open-access is hence far better devoted to actually self-archiving our
own work, rather than appealing to publishers (as authors or referees or
readers) to allow their authors to do it: They already allow it.

(Having self-archived one's own work, however, if there is some more
time one wishes to contribute to open access as author or referee
[or reader], it would of course be very helpful if the commitment of
those publishers who already support self-archiving were reinforced by
an expression of appreciation, and if publishers not yet supporting it
were strongly encouraged to fall in step with the majority on this issue
that is so important to the research community and to research itself).

(2) My second (and longer) point was that expressions of the research
community's desire for open access (whether expressed wearing their
author's, referee's, or reader's hats) will have substantially more
credibility if they are voiced to publishers *after* the research
community has taken the obvious self-help steps that are already within
its own power, namely, self-archiving their own research. Asking
publishers to take risks or make sacrifices for the sake of open
access on our behalf is less convincing if we have not even taken the
available no-risk, no-sacrifice steps for the sake of open access that
are already open to us. (Publishers would otherwise be quite justified in
concluding that, in that case, we are not really all that serious about
open access: ready to sign petitions, but nothing more.)

> This statement has much in common with the frequently made one that, for
> any given journal, the authors and the readers are the same people. That
> isn't true either - there are students, schoolteachers and practitioners
> who read the scholarly literature but do not contribute to it.

I completely agree about that too -- but it is also why I stress authors
and referees (i.e., researchers) rather than readers in all arguments
for open access. The unique and uncontestable rationale for open access
to refereed research is that it is for the sake of the research *impact*:
that means the degree to which research is read, used, applied and cited
by other researchers, pure and applied. It is research impact that
rewards research funders, and the employers of researchers, and the
researchers themselves.

Yes, being read by students, teachers, practitioners, and the
general public is very welcome and desirable too (and download impact
will soon be added to the battery of new research impact
measures and new
online measures of "teaching impact" will no doubt also be
designed and used to reward online courseware productivity: ) but it
will always remain true that the primary targets of refereed research
publication are researchers -- i.e., authors and referees, and not merely
readers in general.

It is precisely for this reason that refereed research is and has always
been an author give-away, not written for royalties or fees, but for
research impact. It is precisely for this reason that toll-barriers,
being impact-barriers, are so counterproductive and undesirable for
research and researchers, and why open access is so beneficial and

    Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic
    publishing in the online era: What Will Be For-Fee And
    What Will Be For-Free? Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)

If the appeal for open access were simply based on the desire
of maximizing readership, *all* authors would want to give their writing
away -- but they do not, because most are *not* writing primarily for
research impact. Nor is a reader-based appeal for open access (from
students, teachers, and the general public) a very persuasive rationale
for open access, considering that those readers would welcome just as
fervently open access to *all* writing -- books, textbooks, magazines.
The unique and specific rationale for open-access to refereed research
output -- which is that it is written purely for the sake of research
impact, not sales revenue -- would be lost, if it were conflated with
and diluted by a generalized consumer appeal for a free product.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Jun 16 2003 - 14:36:00 BST

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