Re: Shulenburger on open access: so NEAR and yet so far

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2004 00:16:32 +0000

Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet [ ]
responded to Tony Delamothe & Richard Smith's Editorial "Open access publishing
takes off" [ ] in the
British Medical Journal, with a commentary entitled "The vital need for debate"
[ ] containing the
following recommendation:

     "[O]pen-access should be the ultimate goal for all
     publishers... Given that research is, like any new discovery,
     a piece of intellectual property, a system akin to patents might
     apply. Publishers [sh]ould have time-limited control over the
     material they publish - but a short time, perhaps no longer than 12
     months, given that publishers, although they do add value, are not
     the true originators of the work in question. Once that interval
     has expired, research could be openly available to all."

Below is my reply to this, entitled:

                 Stevan Harnad

The reason research is published is so that it can immediately be
read, used, applied, and built-upon: This is called "research impact."
and research impact is what research productivity and progress are
based upon and measured by.

Although it varies from discipline to discipline, the growth region
for research begins at the moment the peer-reviewed final draft is
accepted for publication (in some fields even earlier, with the
pre-refereeing preprint) and in many fields most impact takes place
in the first 6-12 months from publication (see Hitchcock et al.
references, below).

It was in order to maximise research impact -- thereby putting an
end to the needless cumulative impact loss that was the legacy of
the paper era and its access-tolls -- that the open-access movement
came into existence.

Richard Horton is here merely resurrecting the Shulenberger "NEAR"
proposal ["Shulenburger on open access: so NEAR and yet so far"] of
delayed-access instead of open-access, which is to cut out research's
most vital growth tip.

And for no good reason! For if toll-access journals fear that they
will not be able to make ends meet should they become open-access
("gold") journals, they can still support open access and research
impact by becoming "green" journals, i.e., journals that officially
endorse self-archiving by their authors.

What is vital for research is not to debate or delay the cumulative
needless loss of its growth tip. What is vital is prompt and much overdue
action, in the form of the unified open-access provision policy:

    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.


Harnad, S. (2001) AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late. Science
dEbates [online] 2 April 2001.

Hitchcock, Steve, Tim Brody, Christopher Gutteridge, Les Carr, Wendy
Hall, Stevan Harnad, Donna Bergmark, Carl Lagoze (2002) Open Citation
Linking: The Way Forward. D-Lib Magazine. Volume 8 Number 10. October

Hitchcock, Steve; Woukeu, Arouna; Brody, Tim; Carr, Les; Hall, Wendy
and Harnad, Stevan. (2003) Evaluating Citebase, an open access
Web-based citation-ranked search and impact discovery service

Hitchcock, Steve, Tim Brody, Christopher Gutteridge, Les Carr &
Stevan Harnad (2003) The Impact of OAI-based Search on Access to
Research Journal Papers. Serials 16(3)
Received on Sun Jan 04 2004 - 00:16:32 GMT

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