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

From: Eberhard R. Hilf <>
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 19:21:42 +0100

Replying to emails here of Stevan Harnad and Frederick Friend

F. Friend:

> "..Many authors are currently wary of self-archiving because they believe
> that the practice will harm their publication opportunities..."

I see it as the opposite: in hiring committees we (and all colleagues
I know of) look more and more at how competently the candidate has set
up his web-presence by fully informing us of his work, including his
publication record.

F. Friend:

> ".. many (publishers) are wary of saying that it (self-archiving) is OK.."

The publishers I know are working hard on professional, sophisticated and
needed services (cross-citation, printing on demand in bundles, alerting,
textual analysis, intelligent retrieval, archiving [such as the APS

None of these depend on "owning the document exclusively." That means
the self-archiving of the final document (after refereeing) by the author
does no harm.

F. Friend:

> ".. my suggestion is to set out for authors and publishers a two-stage
> process, that publishers should be asked to state publicly that archiving
> pre-prints is no threat to their business and will incur no penalties
> for authors doing this, and that archiving post-prints should be a matter
> of negotiation, some publishers allowing it, maybe others not."

No need to ask either publishers or authors. Any author is free to decide
what is good for him. And what is good is to self-archive (either individually,
institutionally or centrally), first, the preprint (if there is such a culture
in his field), and then the postprint. This increases visibility and makes it
easy to assess his work in perspective.

And this is also good for the publisher, because netiquette entails that
the author cite correctly, with a link to the publisher's website and
thus a hint as to the add-on services and due credit to their refereeing
system. Open access not only gives more visibility and citations but
also more customers to the publisher, since self-archiving serves de
facto as an advert for the publisher.


> "..[Ebs Hilf] betrays his biasses when he keeps talking about *preprint*
> self-archiving, and relegates journals to performing an optional,
> post-hoc service on preprints."

What I meant was not that preprints are the sole or exclusive focus,
but that each possible component in archiving has its advantages
and serves as such in its own realm:

- PREPRINTS -- self-archived either individually, institutionally or
centrally -- for quick preliminary information to the colleagues in
our own field (where we know ourselves how to judge it), are important
in physics, a field where knowledge doubles every ten years, and
where priorities play a role in careers (not for the science as
such). Hence the high acceptance of the central ArXiv, which provides
an unconditional time-stamp.

Indeed, the 'heated first action' takes place upon the first posting
in ArXiv, long before any refereeing. As an example of direct
interaction between authors on an institutional arxiv prior to publishing see:

- POSTPRINTS: Self-archiving by the author provides the chance for the
reader to easily read and evaluate an author's oeuvre and thus has high
priority for the career-minded. Clearly (and in absolute agreement
with our high-spirited friend Stevan), it is absolutely wise for
authors to self-archive the most recent and most fully refereed version
of a paper with highest priority so that the wider community in the
future gets the best and most reliable verified version to date.


> "But the point is that authors, including physicists, self-archive
> both the preprint and the postprint, and there are other disciplines
> in which authors self-archive *only* the postprint.

Fully agree.


> "So whereas Ebs's speculation at the end of his posting -- about
> the direction that peer-reviewed journal publishing might take in
> the future... it should be recognized for what it is: pure speculation."

Agree, but I would call it vision.

> Stevan: "What is certain is that what they want that enhanced
> visibility and impact *for* is their refereed postprints, and not
> just for their unrefereed preprints".

Sure, once they have came out.


> "*what* is being self-archived..-- both preprints and postprints."

Sure enough, that's what I meant!


> "..invalid premise: The largest space of self-archived documents
> is raw untagged preprints, scientific reports (?)
> *and* postprints!"

Only 5% of documents found by PhysDoc do have metadata.


> > Ebs:
> > Costs may be larger (because library employees' salaries are involved).
> Authors are perfectly capable of doing OAI-compliant self-archiving
> for themselves (though help from librarians is certainly welcome,
> especially to get the ball rolling):

Yes, agreed: capable they are; but we have not been capable (nor have
the mathematicianin Math-Net of
persuading most authors to use metadata themselves! That is why in
Germany the University Libraries, following the Berliner Erklaerung
and the BOAI, provides this service in their upcoming institutional archives.


> > Ebs:
> > The expert would gain the desired document directly
> > from the author's website or elsewhere using search engines. Small
> > departments in remote countries would be able to get the unrefereed
> > information without having to pay, but they would miss the real
> > added-value services.
> "Are there not experts in both nearby and remote countries? And
> don't they all want access to the correct refereed version? And is
> that not the version that authors want them to have access to? And
> isn't open access about providing access to those who cannot afford
> the toll-access version? And is that not the toll-access version
> of the refereed postprint (since there is not toll-access version
> of the unrefereed preprint)?"

Agree. [Broken english is sometimes hard to understand and interpret
for a true Brit]:

Always self-archive the best, most fully refereed version at hand,
in the pure interests of the author's career.


Eberhard R. Hilf, Dr. Prof.;
CEO (Geschaeftsfuehrer)
Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg GmbH
an der Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet
Ammerlaender Heerstr.121; D-26129 Oldenburg
email :
tel : +49-441-798-2884
fax : +49-441-798-5851
Received on Tue Mar 30 2004 - 19:21:42 BST

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