Re: Journal Publishing and Author Self-Archiving: Complementary Or Competitive?

From: Don Sannella <>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 14:58:10 +0100

I would like to respond to Stevan Harnad's (SH) replies to my (DS) earlier

>> DS: "Researchers can and do cite and use research they have not read."
> SH: "This is undoubtedly true" ...

So what is the effect on the rebuttal? The assertion that this is impossible is a
fundamental element in the whole argument that the rebuttal is making.

> SH: "but it is not at all clear whether this fact is something to be
> proud of or tout. ...

I never said it was -- that's a completely different topic.

> SH: ... "And what fraction of the total research access problem does
anyone seriously imagine that this iffy practice takes care of?"

 From my fairly extensive experience with editorial work I think a significant
fraction of citations in published papers are of this nature.

>> DS: "Those without access can go to a library."
> SH: "Is DS seriously proposing that in the Internet age -- when
> researchers' fingers are doing the walking and all research articles can be at
> their fingertips instantly -- the researcher whose institution cannot afford a
> subscription should walk to a library (somewhere) for every click performed by the
> researcher whose institution can afford a subscription? (Another suggestion worthy
> of Marie Antoinette!)"

Of course - as I already said - I agree that it is more convenient to have access
without walking anywhere, and I hardly ever visit my own institution's library
physically even though it is in the same building as my office. I was responding
to a specific point in the rebuttal, which was asking how readers whose
institutions don't subscribe to a journal can get access to its content. Online
access was not the topic. (I find the Marie Antoinette offensive and inappropriate
in the context of this discussion, by the way.)

>> DS: "In some narrow specialities, most researchers might have access.
> SH: "How much of the total research article literature do you really
> think that covers" ...

Probably a lot, I would guess the majority. There are 24,000 research journals
(figure taken from the rebuttal). I would guess that the vast majority of these
are highly specialized. I would further speculate from knowledge of my own field
(Computer Science) that researchers in specialized fields tend to be concentrated
in a relatively small number of institutions, rather than evenly distributed
across the world's 8000 research institutions.

> SH: ... "(and what about the rest)?"

That's what Interlibrary Loan was designed for. If the problem is that the
interlibrary loan system needs to change to take account of new technology, then
why not complain about that?

By the way, the main substance of my original point was that the rebuttal ignores
access to research articles that is not via a researcher's own institution's
journal subscription, and the extremely uneven distribution of researchers in
specialized fields across institutions. SH's response to the former complaint
attempts to change the subject rather than addressing it; the latter is just my

>> DS: "How can we be sure scholars will cite the right version, and that
>> statistics will be pooled and credited to the published version?"
> SH: "Leave it to the research community. They stand to lose even more
> than publishers if wrong versions are cited and citations are not credited to
> their publications."

I'll believe it when I see it. "They stand to lose" refers to authors whose work
is being cited. "Wrong versions are cited" refers to different people, namely
authors of papers that cite this work. "Citations are not credited" refers to the
people who control institutional repositories.

So you are actually saying that A stands to lose if B and C don't go out of their
way to do something, and therefore we can count on B and C doing so. (Of course B
may in turn be cited by D, at which point A and B are in the same boat, but I
don't notice that fact having any affect on the correctness of B's citations as
ALPSP notes.)

Personally I wouldn't bet a lot of money on this happening any time soon. And you
are asking ALPSP to believe that it will happen before the problem ALPSP it is
referring to leads to subscription cancellations. And then you are complaining
that ALPSP doesn't accept your arguments no matter how many times you repeat them.

>> DS: "Publishers giving away the full contents of the journal version is not
>> the same as authors self-archiving their final drafts, but is it really true these
>> have "nothing whatosever" to do with each other?"
> SH: "On all the evidence to date, the answer is indeed, nothing. No
> cancellation effects from self-archiving" ... [followed by more stuff that I am
> not disputing ...]

My point here was slightly different: the rebuttal argues one thing (A is not the
same as B) and then asserts a stronger thing (A has nothing whatsoever to do with
B) as if these two things were the same, and they aren't. But I think this is a
minor issue; I only mentioned it in the first place because the rebuttal made a
big deal about the fact that ALPSP stubbornly seems not to have accepted the
latter assertion despite having been given the former argument.

Don Sannella
Received on Tue Aug 30 2005 - 11:58:08 BST

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