Re: Mandating OA around the corner?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 01:57:31 +0100 (BST)

> Our correspondent adds this note: 'In the interview Zerhouni confirms
> reports that NIH is already working on a plan for putting all papers
> derived from NIH-funded research into the public domain.

"Public domain" (as per the ill-fated Sabo Bill?) or just Open Access^
Surely the latter!

    "Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)"

> there should be a way of linking the public's investment with the
> outcome of the research.

Yes, bravo! How about a link between the funded grant proposal and the
peer-reviewed articles the fundee produced from it? -- and then links
to and tallies of what other articles have used and cited them?

     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).

> NIH needs a portfolio analysis capability component, Zerhouni said. Right
> now, "I can't figure out what grants produced what [results]. A scientific
> paper is credited many times over, but I can't figure out what the
> productivity is because I don't have an archive of what the agency does.
> You just can't make the links. You can't do it," he said.

NIH doesn't need an *archive* for this! The data need to be out there, Open
Access and OAI-compliant, and then the impact information can all be

> But, "access is not the only value provided" by publishing. "Access is
> only one value provided" by publishing, Zerhouni elaborated. "Peer review
> is a very important value, and I don't want to lose that," he said.

Neither the gold road to OA (OA Publishing of Peer-Reviewed Journals)
nor the green road to OA (OA Self-Archiving of articles published in
Peer-Reviewed Journals) involves any tampering with peer review.

This is a red herring (and an old one):
It has nothing to do with OA.

> Publishing also serves several needs related to information transfer,
> Zerhouni said. "Interpretation of scientific data is a very important
> value, which is different from the raw data we have," he said.

So, are these interpretations published in peer-reviewed journals? Then
they need to be OA too. Otherwise (e.g., if they are in textbooks),
nolemus contendere.

> Another value of publishing is "information transfer that accentuates ease
> of informing communities of research through associations, societies, or
> just for-profits, for the links between industry and science that are
> supported by these models," he said.

And the point is... ?

> "These are all values that are way beyond access. And I don't want to lose
> any of them," he stressed.

They are not at risk. They are not even at issue!

Perhaps this sort of harried/hurried thinking is one of the hazards
of the office for every head of NIH, no matter how well-meaning...:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Aug 12 2004 - 01:57:31 BST

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