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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 10:24:21 -0400

On Tue, 30 Aug 2005, Jan Velterop wrote:

> I am passionately pro open access, let there be no misunderstanding about
> that, and have been for a long time. But...
> I am sympathetic to the fact that [publishers] do not see the 'evidence' of
> physics as convincing enough to rest assured that self-archiving won't
harm them.

Translation: I am passionately pro open access publishing -- not so
pro open access self-archiving.

> (They may not necessarily be reassured if the surgeon about to perform
> heart surgery on them shows an impeccable record replacing hips). Why is
> the evidence that the BMJ has lost a substantial number of subscribers
> since they went open access not treated as equally valid as the physics

Please read the rebuttal to the ALPSP open letter seeking to delay or
divert the
RCUK self-archiving mandate.

     BMJ = British Medical Journal
     ASA = Author Self Archiving

BMJ: Publisher's value-added version is given away free online
ASA: Author's final draft is given away free online

BMJ: Full-content of entire journal is given away by the publisher free online
ASA: Single author-drafts are given away by the author free online

BMJ: All of value-added online contents are immediately free online
ASA: Author's drafts of some proportion of a journal's contents are free
online (when and how many and which is unpredictable, anarchic)

BMJ: All journal content effected
ASA: RCUK can only mandate self-archiving of UK portion of any journal's

By Jan's own logic (but a slightly more pertinent version of the simile), if
heart surgery success declines when one implants an artificial heart it
does not
follow that hip surgery success will decline when one implants an
artificial hip).

(The rebuttal also notes that the outcome for artificial heart implantation
[whole-journal giveaway] is mixed, with some reports of decline and some
reports of improvement.)

> And I also believe that authors do not 'give away' their articles to
> publishers.

"Give away" means "without seeking royalties or fees," as all other authors do.

> Why would they give it to publishers anyway?

(1) They give it (royalty/fee-free) to publishers because they want
it published (in paper days, on-paper, in online days, both on-paper
and online). They want it published it so it will be used, applied,
built upon, and cited. In other words, they publish it for the sake of
*research impact.*

(2) They give it to publishers because they want it to be peer-reviewed,
improved, and certified with the established quality-standards of the
publisher. (The peer-reviewers, like the authors, give away their
peer-reviewing services to the publisher free for the sake of the
same outcome the author seeks.)

> [Authors] don't need publishers to 'give away' their articles to the
> world. They 'trade-in' the copyright to their articles for the recognition,
> kudos, and the like that comes with having them accepted and published by
> peer-reviewed journals.

To repeat, (research-article) authors give their papers to publishers
(without seeking royalties or fees) so they can be peer-reviewed and
published, for the sake of maximal uptake, usage and impact. In the
paper era, that was all there was to it: Only those who could afford the
paper product could have access, and the costs of producing and distributing
the paper product had to be covered by levying an access fee.

With the advent of the online era, it became possible for authors to
provide free online access to the author's draft as a supplement, for
those would-be users who could *not* afford the publisher's value-added

The rest is just about the fact that there is no evidence that this author
supplement has had any effect on the revenues from the publisher's version.

As to "trading in" copyright (the "Faustian Bargain"): Jan may not have
noticed that over 90% of journals are "green," i.e., they endorse author
self-archiving -- because to oppose it is to oppose researchers maximising
research impact, which would be a very awkward and unstable position
for publishers to try to adopt in the PostGutenberg era, in this delicate and
anomalous form of literature, where the authors seek no royalties or
fees from their publishers, specifically because they are publishing
for usage and impact, not for income.

> Trading- in copyright carries with it the
> limitation in terms of dissemination inherent in the model. It has for a
> while been called a 'Faustian bargain', though that seems to have gone out
> of fashion.

It has only gone out of fashion because over 90% of journals (including
all of Springer's are already green (and authors can self-archive even
without their publisher's blessing):

> In an open access publishing model they don't trade-in their
> copyright, but just pay for the service of publishing, and so avoid the
> limitations in dissemination, but instead have open access to their article.

Translation: Jan Velterop is "passionately pro" open access ("gold")
publishing, but not so passionate, not so pro open access (green)
self-archiving. Possibly because he has a (gold) product/service to sell,
whereas green OA does not; possibly because to say otherwise would be
to admit that authors have 3, not 2 options, among their "Open Choices"...

Stevan Harnad


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Received on Wed Aug 31 2005 - 16:21:43 BST

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