Re: Zeno's Paradox and the Road to the Optimal/Inevitable

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2003 10:18:38 +0100

> Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2003 11:21:45 +0530
> From: Subbiah Arunachalam <>
> Dear Stevan:
> Here is a senior scientist from Russia with some reservations about self
> archiving and open access. Maybe you would like to convince him. He is a
> Fellow of TWAS. Regards.
> Arun

Dear Arun,

No doubt because of the long years of relative isolation, this Russian
inquiry recapitulates the past 1.5 decade-history of open-access,
raising several of the 28 prima facie worries (all groundless) that have
been answered repeatedly in this Forum and have even turned into
the self-archiving FAQs.

I will reply in summary first and then to each of the 3 questions,
also citing the pertinent FAQ.

> From: [Identity Deleted]
> Sent: Friday, October 03, 2003 3:38 PM
> Subject: Re: TWAS, WSIS and open access
> Dear Subbiah Arunachalam,
> I agree with your estimation of situation concerning problems with
> access to journals and ICT. We have a same situation in Russia. Now
> Russia become close to Third World countries.
> I suppose that creating open access archives and journals undermine
> business of publishing companies. And we can expect large resistance.
> I see some problems.

There is certainly some resistance to open access among peer-reviewed
journal publishers, with some publishers worrying that it may undermine
their business. However, what is best for publishers' current
cost-recovery methods and modera operandi must be weighed against
what is best for research and researchers. Open access is so clearly
the optimal and inevitable solution for research and researchers that
no publisher can explicitly oppose open access per se. That would be
tantamount to declaring that publishers were opposed to what was best
for research and researchers. And that position would only be tenable
if access-toll-based cost-recovery were somehow a necessary condition
for publishing peer-reviewed research at all. But that is clearly no
longer the case in the online age.

Most journal publishers accordingly support open access. 500 (out of
the total of the world's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals) do so by being
or becoming open-access journals:
Of the remaining journals, 55% of the Romeo Project's sample of the
top 7135 are already "green," i.e., already explicitly support open
access by supporting the author self-archiving of either preprints or
postprints or both.

Most of the remaining Romeo "white" journals will agree to
self-archiving if asked. And for the few who do not agree, there
is still a legal solution that allows all authors to self-archive:

Moreover, in the fields that have been self-archiving the most and the
longest -- physics and mathematics -- there has not been a single
publisher request to remove any of the 200,000+ articles that have been
self-archived to date (since the inception of the Physics Arxiv,, in 1991).

The changes induced by self-archiving are gradual enough and distributed
enough so that no one knows whether and when they will ever affect journal
revenue streams. If and when they do, there are ways that journals can
adapt (cost-cutting to eliminate products and services that
become obsolete, such as the paper product, and eventually even
online text-provision, offloading archiving and access onto the
distributed system of OAI-compliant and interoperable institutional
archives themselves).

The 500 brave new open-access journals have pre-adapted already. The
open-access journal's costs are paid at the author/institution end instead
of the reader/institution end. The open-access journal may eventually
downsize to becoming purely a peer-review service-provider and certifier
rather than the provider of a text-product, whether on-paper or on-line.

> 1. Building of communism for scientists in capitalist world demands a
> lot of money. Who will pay? The communist practice in our country is
> show that people's work must be paid. If people don't get normal
> salary they work very bad. I don't belive in volunteers or enthusiasts
> work.

Relevant self-faq:

As noted above, the essential costs of publication can be paid on either
the reader/institution end or the author-institution end, so open-access
does not rely on philanthropy or communism! But what *are* the essential
products and services of a peer-reviewed journal in the online age?

Authors provide the text, and do the revisions in response to peer
review. The peer-reviewers referee -- and have always refereed -- for
free. The network of OAI-compliant Institutional Eprint Archives can
provide the access. So it is likely that the true costs of online-age
peer-reviewed journal publication will be much lower, if and when they
are reduced to the essentials by market pressure. For now, however, the
toll-access journals can compete with the existing open-access journals,
and can co-exist with the open-access versions of those of their articles
that are self-archived by their authors (as physics journals have been
doing since 1991).

> There are two operational systems Linux and Windows. Linux and
> soft for Linux are free of charge, but very bad. It's example of
> communism in computer's world. We need many sponsors for maintaining
> of work.

I have no comment on the Windows/Linux comparison (though I think Linux
is very good!). Peer-reviewed research, unlike software, is and always
has been an author give-away, written solely for research impact, not
for royalty revenue.

    "On the Deep Disanalogy Between Text and Software...

> 2. I suppose we have a danger to create bad system. There are a lot of
> scientific "noise". Some journals can be named as basket for garbage.
> We can build up a new huge basket.

Relevant self-faq:

The open-access movement is targeting the peer-reviewed journal
literature. The objective is to free this literature from access-tolls,
not from peer review.

> 3. The serious scientists will publish results in main journals. In
> Russia we haven't money to pay journals for publishing papers.

Relevant self-faq:

There are two roads to open access: open-access publication (BOAI-2)
and open-access self-archiving (BOAI-1). For the 95% of articles that
either have no suitable open-access journal or the author/institution
cannot afford the open-access journal's publication fee, there is always
the option of self-archiving. Open access is not identical with open
access publication:

    "On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access"

> This journals are unreachable for most of Russian scientists. Western
> countries built the new Berlin's wall. They create the conditions for
> brain leakage. The most talented scientists must work abroad for low
> salary if compare with native scientists. This situation is very
> profit for government of Western countries. They get ready scientists
> and used them in more productive part of life. It means that we can
> have resistance from Western governments.

Open access is one of the ways of plugging the brain-drain, helping
to equalize both the access-differential and the impact differential
between the richer and poorer countries.

    "Access-Denial, Impact-Denial and the Developing and Developed World"

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 Sun Oct 05 2003 - 10:18:38 BST

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