Re: Apercus of WOS Meeting: Making Ends Meet in the Creative Commons

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 00:37:16 +0100

On Thu, 17 Jun 2004, Richard Poynder wrote:

> It is my belief that the boundary between give-away and non-give-away is
> not as clear-cut as you imply Stevan. I, for instance, have been paid by
> peer-review journals for articles I have contributed to them.

A small minority of peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Nature and Science) are
hybrid: they have a peer-reviewed section as well as a non-peer-reviewed
newsmagazine/review section.

OA is only intended for their peer-reviewed section.

> Academics tell me that it is also not unknown for them to receive payment
> for publishing in peer-review journals.

Anyone can write for the newsmagazine section, even academics!

No one is paid to publish in the peer-reviewed section; indeed, it is the
peer-reviewers who must decide whether such articles should be accepted at
all (95% of them are rejected by Nature and Science!).

> In other words, publications ostensibly operating as vehicles for
> give-away content alone will sometimes supplement that give-away content
> with non-give-away content; and academics themselves will sometimes
> provide this (on a non-give-away basis).

Not always, sometimes. And that non-give-away content is neither
peer-reviewed nor what the OA movement is about and for: The OA movement
is about Open Access to peer-reviewed journal articles, in order to
maximize their usage and impact by maximizing user access (although this
may also be generalizable to other kinds of give-away texts: but *only*
give-away texts).

    Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic
    publishing in the online era: What Will Be For-Fee And
    What Will Be For-Free? Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)

The fact that academics may also sometimes wear journalist hats is
not relevant. (They sometimes write books for royalty too!) Their
peer-reviewed articles are written purely for impact, not income:

So, no, there is indeed an absolutely fundamental line between
give-away and non-give-away texts, and every single peer-reviewed
article is on the give-away side of that line. This is the most
important of the 5 PostGutenberg distinctions. Fail to make it, and you
will not be able to make head or tail of what the OA movement is about:

> Additionally, of course, academics also frequently produce articles and
> papers for other types of publications/other venues for a fee.

Irrelevant: OA is just for their give-aways, written only for research
impact rather than for sales income: the 2.5 million annual peer-reviewed
articles in the world's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals.

> The reverse also occurs: as a freelance journalist trying to place
> articles in non-give-away publications I sometimes find I am competing
> against academics willing to provide "copy" on a give-away basis.

Anyone is free to (try to) be a journalist!

> Maybe such incidents are not the norm, but it does lead me to believe that
> the boundary between give-away and non-give-away is fuzzier than you
> suggest, and therefore researchers and research publications could benefit
> from being better able to distinguish between give-away and non-give-away
> material - one of the primary purposes of the CC licences.

The boundary is not fuzzy in the least; it is 0/1: Do I wish to (0)
give this text away or to (1) sell it? If 0, then it is a candidate for
OA self-archiving, if 1 not, then it is not.

It is not the *journal* that is the relevant entity here, but the
*article*. The same journal might publish articles that are and are
not author give-aways. OA is only for the author give-aways.

And the difference in motivation is that peer-reviewed articles are
written for impact (income), not (text-sale royalty or fee) income.

So, no, the CC license is not a necessity for OA texts -- although
it is certainly welcome and useful if and when it can be used, for
example, in OA journals. It would be a *great* strategic mistake,
however, to conclude that negotiating a CC license for one's non-OA
journal articles is a necessity or a prerequisite for making them OA
by self-archiving them. That is completely incorrect, and wrongly
believing or implying that it is true is merely one of the (at least 31)
misunderstandings that are still slowing the progress of OA ("Zeno's

> Perhaps the bigger point here is that the internet has proved a catalyst for
> change in all areas of content creation, and therefore introduced the
> opportunity - in some cases necessity - for new/different methods/ business
> models.

All true. But my point was that OA for peer reviewed journal articles
is a special case, in that they are all author give-aways and do not
necessarily require adopting the CC License in order to make them OA.

> OA would not be possible without the web, and OA publishing, which
> sees a shift from a reader-pays to an author-pays model, is a good example
> of a new business model made possible by it.

Yes, but OA publishing does not = OA! In fact, it represents only a small
portion of the actual total annual number of peer-reviewed articles, as well
as of the immediate potential for OA today:

> Similarly radical changes are taking place in many areas of non-give-away
> creative endeavour, not least in the music industry. We can expect some
> of these new approaches to look very similar to the traditional give-away
> model of peer-reviewed journals, suggesting that the boundary between
> give-away and non-give-away will become fuzzier as time passes.

I'll believe it when I see it! Meanwhile, I'd rather the self-archiving of
peer-reviewed research not wait for the day when the musicians all elect
to give their work away on the web too! I hope we will have reached 100%
OA for this special all-give-away corpus long before that!

> Indeed, as governments and research institutions seek (for good or bad) to
> better "exploit" the intellectual property generated by researchers, we may
> even see attempts to move some of the traditional give-away output of
> scholarly publishing into the non-give-away arena - which might or might not
> prove successful.

We are now piling speculation upon speculation here, when the current facts speak
(theory-independently) for themselves:

(1) Today (and within living and written memory) researchers publish their
articles in peer-reviewed journals.

(2) They give them away -- to the journal, as well as to any would-be user who
requests a reprint -- because they are not writing for sales-income but for
research impact.

(3) Researchers *and* their institutions generate income from the research impact
of their research output.

(4) That is one of the reasons they seek OA: Because a toll-access
price-tag is a barrier to access, hence a barrier to impact (hence a barrier to

(5) The other reason researchers and their institutions seek OA is because to
maximize research impact is to maximize research productivity and progress.

(6) Your speculation that universities will break with their researchers
and forego research impact in order to collect sales-income from
access-tolls, just as publishers did, not only flies in the face of all
facts to date, as well as any rational argument one could make on its
behalf, but the whole motivation for the OA movement (which includes
both researchers and their employers and funders).

(7) This sinister speculation has been raised before (e.g., in 1998) and
has been publicly denied (e.g., by the provost of the US University that
has since become the most advanced in providing OA to its own research
output through self-archiving, CalTech):

    "Re: Chron. High. Ed. 18 September on Cal Tech & Copyright"

> What is surely certain is that many of the new methods for content
> distribution thrown up by the internet need new, more flexible ways of
> expressing the altered relationships that this introduces between creators
> and those who distribute and consume their creations. As such new licenses
> like those of the CC - along with the FDL, OPL etc. - look set to become
> increasingly popular, both in the traditional non-give-away world and, I
> would suggest, in the traditional give-away arena of scholarly publishing
> too.

The CC license will be useful in all creative domains where current
copyrights and permissions are a barrier, and the creators wish to
adopt the CC license. It is very useful for OA provided by publishing
peer-reviewed articles in OA journals. It is welcome where possible, but
not necessary, for OA provided by publishing peer-reviewed articles in
non-OA journals -- and self-archiving them to make them OA. The publisher's
green light to self-archive is more than enough:

What other creative domains will have to sort out is whether they want to give
away their products free online at all. Peer-reviewed journal article authors
already know they do.

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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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 Jun 18 2004 - 00:37:16 BST

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