Re: Dlib Report on Berlin 3 on Open Access to appear today

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 20:42:04 +0000

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005, guedon wrote:

> In his very recent dlib posting, Stevan harnad is defining OA in too
> constraining a fashion for me.
> By limiting OA to "all refereed research journal articles", Stevan
> harnad forces to look only at journals as they exist now and prevents us
> from imagining other venues, other possibilities for refereeing.

(1) Here is a quote from the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

    "The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which
    scholars give to the world without expectation of payment. Primarily,
    this category encompasses their peer-reviewed journal articles, but
    it also includes any unreviewed preprints that they might wish to
    put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research

(Note also, at the bottom, who drafted and signed the above statement.)

(2) To resolve all further ambiguities, I quote here also from a
recent posting by my colleague, Les Carr, which is perfectly

    "As a Computer Scientist, I automatically read "peer reviewed journal"
    as 'peer reviewed (journal/conference/workshop/symposium)',
    because that's the convention of my discipline, where a
    conference/workshop/symposium is a "peer review service provider".
    I believe that Stevan does not mean to bar this reading, as he
    himself used it in public at the Berlin-3 conference."

(My endlessly reiterated mantra "the 2.5 million articles published
in the world's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals" of course includes these
other forms of peer-reviewed article publication as well -- and their
pre-refereeing precursors too, if/when the author so wishes.)

No one is being prevented from "imagining." But OA is intended to provide
free access, today, to the actual articles that actually exist today,
not to imaginary ones that may or may not exist in some hypothetical
future system. One is always free to imagine till doomsday, but what
needs to be freed today is what there *is* today, and not the contents
of one's imagination.

This point has been made in great and painstaking detail in a
recent line-by-line critique in Ariadne of Jean-Claude Guedon's own
recent Serials Review article "Mixing and Matching Green and Gold"

    Harnad, S. (2005) Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open
    Access: The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne 43

> I disagree strongly with this constraint.
> The definition should simply aim at "refereed research results" without
> excluding a priori various forms of publication that are emerging or
> will emerge soon.

Nothing is excluded a priori. The problem is not a priori exclusion but
actual access-denial -- access not to what *might* be but to what *is*.

> I know about Stevan Harnad's arguemnt that he want to stick with what
> exists now. I have already dealt with this in an earlier message:
> claiming to want to change and, at the same time, claiming to stick
> strictly with the "what is" appears somewhat bizarre to me, to say the
> least.

The change I want is Open Access, now, to what there is, now. What change
does Jean-Claude Guedon want?

> The important point here is "refereed" as it marks the procedure - or
> call it ritual, if you want - that clearly demarcates the scientific
> communication system from the non-scientific. The status and evaluation
> of scientists rests on this clearly demarcated border. However, once the
> procedure is clearly identified - i.e. it is a peer-review procedure -
> it can be applied to a variety of research results, whatever their
> format, venue, etc...


Now back to work providing free online access to it all for those
would-be users who do not now have it (and who are not musing about
borders but looking for access).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Mar 15 2005 - 20:42:04 GMT

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