Re: Blackwell Publishing & Online Open

From: adam hodgkin <>
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 17:32:00 +0000

Cockerill some good points and Harnad may be missing something. It
sometimes seems that there can be too much reliance on the fact that
authors of scientific research articles are not paid by the publishers
for publishing their papers, and is Harnad relying too much on this
criterion to define the field of OA concern? I suspect that Cockerill
and Harnad agree that the major science publications which have
journalist-written reports and news are not expected to be OA (the
front half of the magazines). But the research reports that Science,
Nature and the Lancet carry should on the Cockerill and Harnad view be
OA -- but not I suggest for the simple reason that the authors are not
being paid.

If the unpaid nature of the authorship were the key issue, would
Harnad consider it an acceptable way of reforming the system for such
authors to be paid a fee on the appearance of their article, which was
thereafter Toll Access? Presumably not.

It seems to me that Cockerill's point is that publishing the results
of research is itself a part of the research process, and the
publication itself should be viewed as such, openly, with the maximum
opportunity for review, analysis, reuse and improvement; and Harnad
cannot rely on the point that most of a typical article is text, in
many cases the most important parts of a publication are not text, but
images, data and those other elements of a research report, eg
references, that matter to those in the field. There is a big lesson
to be learned from the experience of the human (and other genomes)
where the toll access mode of publication was resoundingly and
decisively defeated four or five years ago. It didnt even get off the
ground because it was so clearly going to impede scientific progress
if all the databases (and their annotations) were closed or subject to
proprietary control.

Science is most efficiently pursued when its an open and collaborative
process and that is where the OA argument strikes hardest.


On Tue, 8 Mar 2005 19:50:59 +0000, Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> On Tue, 8 Mar 2005, Matthew Cockerill wrote:
> > What I am saying is that there is huge scope for the scientific community to
> > 'add value' to published scientific research in various ways.
> OA is not about adding value, it is about accessing published peer-reviewed
> journal articles (with the value already in them).
> > Adding value to the literature is made dramatically easier (and therefore
> > are much more likely to happen) if the scientific research concerned can be
> > downloaded in a structured XML form.
> Are you referring to articles here or research data? If research data, we are
> talking apples and oranges, because OA is about articles. If you are talking
> about articles, what is the XML problem? (If it ever becomes indispensable,
> authors can XML-ize their own articles; but I doubt they will think it's
> worth the trouble, and that's the point!)
> > I can perhaps clarify what I mean by "added value" with an analogy.
> > Take the new service Google Maps <>
> Maps are data we use. Texts are literature we read. Database collection,
> enhancement and provision are irrelevant to OA, which is about access to
> articles, written by authors and given away by them for research impact.
> > Structured information includes: reliably and consistently formatted
> > bibliographic citation information, mathematical formulae, chemical
> > structures, figure legends, author affiliation information etc etc. Sure,
> > much of this can be partially reverse-engineered from an unstructured
> > version of the document, but this process is complex, error-prone and a
> > major unnecessary hurdle to re-use. The more hurdles there are, the less
> > chance there is that any given idea for adding value will see the light of
> > day. It's not simply a question of whether something is possible - we need
> > to be making it *easy* to add value to the data.
> The many would-be users who cannot afford it have no access to 80% of
> these articles today, and you are worrying about reliability of formatting?
> How about settling for making it 100% accessible to everyone first? Then
> we can talk about adding more value...
> > Stevan, I know that you will object that some of these things could
> > theoretically be achieved without access to the XML, and without rights to
> > redistribution, but my point is not that these things are *impossible* in
> > the absence of structured XML and rights for reuse/redistribution, but that
> > all are made immeasurably *easier* if freely re-distributable structured
> > data is available. The practical result of this is that making the
> > re-usable and re-distributable XML available has an immensely stimulating
> > effect on innovation.
> I don't dispute that; I'm just pointing out that it's the ("added-value")
> tail wagging the (80% non-existent) dog right now!
> > * Image mining/reuse
> If authors want their data or images re-used, they can self-archive them on
> their own sites (and link them to the publisher's official version of record too).
> > * Text mining
> Ditto for text.
> > * Antbase
> Data-mining again.
> > * PubMed's Bookshelf
> Irrelevant: OA's target now is the 2.5 million annual articles in the 24,000
> peer-reviewed journals. Every one of those articles is an author give-away. Not
> so, in general, for books. So don't hitch their fates. (Let those authors who want
> to self-archive their books do so...)
> > mathematical formulae.
> Do it in your self-archived version.
> > * Biological database linking
> Irrelevant. If the data are OA, link to them. If you want to make your data OA,
> self-archive them.
> > molecules
> Data-archiving again. See:
> > Again, I'm not saying that all the above is *impossible* with self-archived
> > material in unstructured form.
> Nor is it impossible to structure self-archived material!
> > a whole lot more... will be
> > achievable once the bulk of the scientific literature is fully open access
> > in the Bethesda/Berlin/Budapest sense (i.e. available in a structured form,
> > and fully redistributable).
> No doubt. But almost as much will be achievable if it is just made OA in the
> sense that pre-dates and post-dates this needless pre-emptive complexification:
> Immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, free for all users.
> That's OA (and we only have 20% of it today). Let's talk about the icing
> when we have 100% of the cake!
> > But in the long term, is it really the best use of resources invested by the
> > funder/employer for researchers to spend their time self-archiving their
> > research
> Yes, that 6-10 minutes of keystrokes per article is eminently well spent!
> (Les Carr will shortly have a paper with the empirical timing data
> on this.)
> > identifying any significant changes which happened during
> > post-acceptance proofing and copy-editing
> Only as important as the changes are significant (i.e., not much!).
> > reconciling their various versions
> Reconciling versions for what? The official version of record is safely on the
> publisher's website, for those users who can afford it, as it always was. With
> self-archiving, the author's supplementary version is available for all those
> users who cannot afford the official version. The refereed, accepted final
> draft is already the difference between night and day for those users, and
> you are talking about a bit of photomoter fine-tuning (when it is still 80%
> night!).
> > coordinating XML markup etc?
> For those who wish to bother: let them go ahead!
> > Surely this can far more efficiently
> > be taken care of as an inherent part of the publishing process, rather than
> > being tacked on the end?
> Indeed! But as only 5% of journals (at most!) are currently offering to do this,
> can we get back to the 95% solution?
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Mar 09 2005 - 17:32:00 GMT

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