Re: Napster: stealing another's vs. giving away one's own

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 15:08:55 +0000

Subject thread begins:

[This is an exchange with a student -- a member of the napster generation --
who is writing on self-archiving]:

>sh> You're mixing up author give-aways with consumer rip-offs, you're mixing up
>sh> publication with archiving, you're misusing the word "peer" here and forgetting
>sh> about peer review, and you need to read the "napster" FAQ again...
> I am mixing it up. But I am somewhere in this next generation (...downloading a
> movie currently...) and it's all going to be free eventually, anyway. :)

But that "eventually" will be to the eternal discredit of the scholarly/scientific
community, because they could have had it all so much earlier:

> I still feel (some) guilt. But my little sisters don't think twice about it. I
> think you're right, the next generation will not put up with this at all.

You *should* feel guilt about napster! But the research community should
feel guilt about napping (instead of self-archiving). Napster is consumer
rip-off; self-archiving is producer give-away.

> But, meanwhile, we can't make it too obvious that the commercial journals are

It's not *at all* obvious that journals are doomed! But I do think
some may be banking on the fact that the research community will keep
on napping for a long time to come. (And they may alas be right!) The
research-community's latest zeno-paralytic daydream is "Waiting for Gold":

> Can you answer this critique of self-archiving? if everybody self-archives
> their peer-reviewed preprints, why would anybody need to buy the journal copy?
> (like what happened in physics?).

The best answer is empirical facts. (You, like everyone else, are
merely speculating here!) Parts of physics have been self-archiving since
1991. Some subfields of it, like HEP, have reached 100% open-access
that way some time ago. Yet no physics journal has folded or even
experienced cancellation pressure. Indeed one prominent "born-gold"
journal, JHEP, which reached a whopping impact factor of 7 within a few
years of its launching, has since reverted from the gold cost-recovery
model (OA) to the green one (TA), yet 100% of its contents were, are,
and remain OA via self-archiving!

(That's peer-reviewed *post*prints, by the way: "preprints" are

> So in effect, while you maintain that self-archiving is "non-napster"
> and perfectly legal (which it is), it actually is cleverly subversive?
> It's an 'end-run' maneuver that will eventually make
> the commercial journals irrelevant.

I called it "subversive" in 1994
but it can hardly be called subversive in 2004, now the word's out!
It can only be called somnolent, or possibly soporific!
It's already too late to do it early!

But better later than never. The Green Road is still wide open, and as
more eyes are opened, we at last seem to be getting into motion:

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"

    "University policy mandating self-archiving of research output"

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
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        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual 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.
Received on Fri Jan 23 2004 - 15:08:55 GMT

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