Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 13:07:20 +0100

Steve Hitchcock has kindly read the latest UK Select Committeee transcript
and draws attention to the following excerpts. The references to the green
road to OA -- OA self-archiving -- are alas both brief and
erroneous. Fortunately, this is the uncorrected transcript and can still
be corrected.

I am branching these corrections to the Clerk of the Committee, along
with the recommendation that the Committee might wish to look at these
Subject Threads in this Forum:

    "Written evidence for UK Select Committee's Inquiry into Scientific

    "Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication"

>From the latest S&T enquiry transcript, Wednesday 5 May 2004

> "Q381 Mr Key (MP): Could I turn to the question on institutional
> repositories. We have been told that 83 per cent of publishers currently
> allow authors to archive their papers in a post-print archive but hardly
> any will publish papers that have been deposited on a pre-print server."

The 83 percent figure is both overstated (for postprints) and understated (for
preprints), and it pertains to journals rather than publishers. The correct current
precentage for journals is:

         83% green journals
         = 19% (pre & post) + 17% (post) + 47% (pre)

That means:

     36% of journals have already given their green light
     to self-archiving the POSTprint
     (or both the postprint and the preprint)


    66% of journals have given their green light
    to self-archiving the PREprint
    (or both the preprint and the postprint).

The corresponding figures for publishers are:

    58% green publishers
    = 33% (pre & post) + 16% (post) + 9% (pre)

It should also be noted that the figures on the percentage of
journals/publishers with a green self-archiving policy indicate how
many and which have adopted an official pro-self-archiving policy
(presumably in response to the rising awareness of and desire for the
benefits of Open Access for research and researchers). This certainly
does not mean that the publishers who are still "gray" will not agree
to the author's self-archiving the postprint on an individual paper
basis, if the author asks.

Moreover, as regards the preprints (which are unrefereed, unpublished,
often not yet even submitted): This is merely about the "Ingelfinger
Rule," which is practised by only a small and fast-shrinking minority
of journals/publishers:

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role
    of the Web in the Future of Refereed Medical Journal
    Publishing. Lancet Perspectives 256 (December Supplement): s16.

    Harnad, S. (2000) E-Knowledge: Freeing the Refereed Journal Corpus
    Online. Computer Law & Security Report 16(2) 78-87.

> "The project known as Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research
> Preservation and Access (SHERPA) has told us that institutional
> repositories can be set up quite quickly and efficiently. What is
> the position of the Government and the research councils on this
> problem of institutional repositories?"

Steve Hitchcock notes that "Unfortunately this thread, like many others in
this session, tailed off rather quickly, getting distracted along the way
by the idea of archives as preservation..."

The perpetual diversion of the topic of OA provision through
self-archiving into irrelevant and misleading preoccupations with
preservation and permissions is regrettable, but is fortunately also
beginning to show some signs of abating, in the face of tireless corrections
and explanations (please see the preservation and permissions threads
in this Forum).

Steve Hitchcock notes that the Committee's discussion of the problem of
institutional repositories then effectively concludes with:

> "Professor Sir Keith O'Nions: I think that is a very important
> suggestion. It is not one that I personally have given a lot of
> thought to ..."

There are many who have given a good deal of thought to this
question. Although it is a pity the Committee did not invite oral
testimony from them, their writings are, fortunately, self-archived
-- hence OA and available to all would-be users:

    Brody, T., Stamerjohanns, H., Vallieres, F., Harnad, S. Gingras,
    Y., & Oppenheim, C. (2004) The effect of Open Access on Citation
    Impact. Presented at: National Policies on Open Access (OA) Provision
    for University Research Output: an International meeting, Southampton,

    Carr, Leslie (2004) OSI Eprints Handbook.

    Crow, Raym (2002) The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC
    Position Paper.

    Smith, Andrew, & Eysenck, Michael (2002) "The correlation
    between RAE ratings and citation counts in psychology," June 2002

    Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated
    online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the
    UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier.
    Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

    Holmes, Alison & Oppenheim, Charles (2001) Use of citation analysis
    to predict the outcome of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise for
    Unit of Assessment (UoA) 61: Library and Information Management.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue May 11 2004 - 13:07:20 BST

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