The Implications of IT for Scientific Journal Publishing: NSF Literature Review

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 16:43:28 +0100

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 09:53:18 -0400
From: Christopher D. Green <>
Subject: The Implications of IT for Scientific Journal Publishing: NSF
    Literature Review

I thought you might find interesting in the publication announced in the
message forwarded below.
Christopher D. Green
Department of Psychology
York University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M3J 1P3
-----Original Message-----
From: E. L. Collins []
Sent: Thu 7/17/2003 6:31 PM
To: E. L. Collins
Subject: The Implications of IT for Scientific Journal Publishing: A
Literature Review
The National Science Foundation Division of Science Resources Statistics
has posted "The Implications of Information Technology for Scientific
Journal Publishing: A Literature Review" (NSF 03-323) by Amy Friedlander
and R=C3=A4ndi S. Bessette at
Paper copies may be requested at
(scroll down to "Need paper copies?").
Eileen L. Collins, Ph.D.;  Fellow, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers
University; and Director and Analyst, Science and Technology Studies;
1301 20th St., NW, Suite 502;  Washington, DC 20036-6002;  202-887-0964;
phone:  416-736-5115 ext. 66164
fax:    416-736-5814
MODERATOR'S NOTE: This NSF report is already quite dated. No references
since 2001, and no apparent cognizance of the OAI, BOAI, or PLoS. I
have not read it in detail, but closely enough to espy that it
misinterprets my own writing (latest reference cited is 1999 -- none
of the 22 papers since; mentions only the author page-charge "model"
and not the self-archiving initiative, conflating it, as usual, with
self-publication). On peer review they write:
    "[Harnad] argues that, while peer review is necessary for quality
    control and certification, robust digital communications technologies
    and archiving (along the model established by the Los Alamos preprint
    server) eliminate the need for publishers."
Careful readers of this Forum will by now know that that is not and
never was my "model." The sequence is:
(1) Continue publishing, as always, in peer reviewed journals.
(2) Supplement the journals' toll-access version of your articles, for
users at those whose institutions can afford to pay the tolls, with
your own open-access version, self-archived in your own institutional
(OAI-compliant) eprint archive, for those users whose institutions cannot
affors to pay the tolls.
(3) *If and when* journal publishers' toll-access revenues and hence
institutions toll-access expenditures should ever shrink to the point
where they no longer cover the essential peer-review service costs,
publishers can downsize to become peer-review service-providers only,
offloading archiving and distribution onto the institutional eprint
archives, with the peer-review service paid out of the annual
institutional windfall toll-savings.
What this means is that peer-reviewed research journal publication
in the online era reduces to peer-review service provision and
certification. What is eventually eliminated (or rather offloaded)
in the online, open-access era, is the publishers' inessential products
and services (paper, online archiving and distribution), but not the
publishers! Peer-reviewed research publication becomes (one cannot
repeat often enough) peer-review provision and certification.
Stevan Harnad
NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
Discussion can be posted to:
Received on Fri Jul 18 2003 - 16:43:28 BST

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