Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 22:01:41 +0000

> PubMed Central will host individual OA articles
> PubMed Central
> has launched an About Open Access page
> drawing attention
> to the journals that provide open access to their contents through
> PMC. The page also announces an important new policy: "[I]n October
> 2003, PMC began accepting individual open access articles from
> journals that do not participate in PMC on a routine basis. For
> the specific conditions under which PMC accepts these articles,
> see the relevant PMC agreement (in Microsoft Word format)
> ." The offer is open to all authors in the life sciences
> willing to release their work to "open access" as
> defined by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing
> (Thanks to George
> Porter.) Posted to Open Access News 12 November 2003 by Peter Suber

    Relevant Prior Subject Threads:

    "E-Biomed: Very important NIH Proposal"

    "NIH's Public Archive for the Refereed Literature: PUBMED CENTRAL"

Just two comments:

(1) More central open-access archives in which authors can self-archive
their articles are always welcome and helpful (especially if they are
OAI-interoperable) and it is gratifying to see what was originally the
E-Biomed proposal -- which at first unfortunately backed away from
individual author self-archiving of toll-access journal articles --
now ready to accept author self-archiving at last!

It has to be added, though, that since 1999, with the advent
of distributed eprint archiving, integrated by the glue of
OAI-interoperability , it has become
apparent that institutional self-archiving is a more promising route
than central self-archiving, because researchers and their instutions
share the benefits of maximizing the impact of their own research output,
and share the costs of impact-loss because of toll-based access-denial
to would-be users everywhere. Institutions also wield the carrot/stick
of "publish or perish" over their own researchers and are hence
in the position to mandate and monitor compliance with their own
self-archiving policy. Central archives share no such common costs/benefits
with researchers, and are not in a position to mandate self-archiving
or to monitor compliance.

(2) The Bethesda statement on open access publishing
is indeed a statement on open-access *publishing* and not on *open access,*
i.e., only on the golden and not the green (self-archiving) road to open access.

It is a potentially useful document, but only if this one-sidedness
is conscientiously and decisively remedied, for as it stands, the
Bethesda Statement is simply missing out on 95% of the immediate
potential for open access. (In addition, the Bethesda definition of
"open" is over-determined, again because of its one-sided focus on
open-access journal publishingalone. All that research
and researchers need is free online full-text access to
all research; the rest comes automatically with the online
territory: See the subject-thread: "Free Access vs. Open Access" )

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: 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):
    Posted discussion to:

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Sat Nov 15 2003 - 22:01:41 GMT

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