Re: Green Party Green on Gold but not on Green

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2005 20:16:44 +0100

On Sun, 11 Sep 2005, Jan Velterop wrote:

> "Do not say a little in many words; say a great deal in a few"?).

Vide infra.

> 1. Researchers do not 'give away' their articles, certainly not to
> publishers, without anything in return.

Other authors ask royalties/fees; researchers don't.

> They seek something in exchange: recognition and impact: the 'brownie points'
> they need for their careers.

Not from their publishers, from their users.

> These things do not just come from making their
> articles visible, but to a large degree from citations and the
> 'label' that is the journal title attached to their article.

The label is the peer-review quality level. The reviewers are unpaid peers.
The publisher implements the peer review: that's why he gets to sell the text

> Wanting something in return makes it a trade, commerce. Authors do not
> 'give'; they 'pay' for what they want in return, either with
> exclusive rights (to be converted by the publisher into money), or
> with money.

The author can and does give away his own drafts online; over 90% of journals
(green) have explicitly blessed this (not that a blessing was needed).

> They could, of course, 'give' their work away, to the
> world. They don't need journals for that. But they won't get the
> 'brownie points' without peer-reviewed journals.

Authors need the peer review. Is that your point? So?

> 2. "Being required to give away" is in conflict with being required
> to publish in a peer-reviewed journal, as that implies a trade.

The self-archiving mandate applies to the author's drafts, which are given
to the publisher and also given to users (as in reprint days).

> 'Giving away' here is of the same nature as being required to 'give
> away' money to the taxman. There are plenty of verbs that could
> describe such a transaction, but 'to give away' isn't usually among
> them.

I can't follow this semiotics...

> 3. Self-archiving can, of course, be a supplement to formally
> published articles. Rather in the way that a soup-kitchen is a
> supplement to bakers, butchers and greengrocers, for those who can't
> afford to buy food. These traders won't object to a soup kitchen and
> may even donate their leftover loaves, pig-trotters and kale. But
> don't ask them to lend their quality reputation, their brand, to the
> soup kitchen's food.

No one is asking. It is the author's draft that is self-archived.

> Self-archiving could be a tool to put pressure
> on publishers to provide open access.

Self-archiving is a tool to maximise research impact, no more, no less.

> But there is no denying that
> there is the potential that it substitutes publishing when - not if -
> it gets organised properly and offers the material with journal
> 'labels' attached. Journals (i.e. their publishers and organisers of
> peer-review) will vanish.

There may or not be the potential, but there is today not a shred of
evidence in that direction.

> Unless they make the transition to viable
> publishing models that make open access possible.

Jan is a publisher, concerned about future publishing models. Researchers
are concerned about present access and impact.

> The Green Party seems to understand that,

The Green Party understood nothing, and left out the crucial component (green).

> but so did the HoC S&T Committee and the
> RCUK, if one reads their reports in full, and many others.

The Committee & RCUK mandated the crucial component (and also added a
lot of needless word ballast with no concrete policy implications).
See Berlin 3 for a streamlined version, minus the semiology.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sun Sep 11 2005 - 20:56:11 BST

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