Re: Open Letter about OA to the Royal Society by Fellows of the Royal Society

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2005 15:35:00 +0000

On Wed, 7 Dec 2005, Barry Mahon wrote:

> Having just returned from the Online meeting in London I have the
> impression that "open" availability of publications whether gold,
> green, or any other colour or style is considered by most people as
> "just another model for publishing"

"Most people" haven't the faintest idea what they are talking about when
it comes to OA, green or gold, and this has been demonstrated so many
times by now that it is surprising that anyone would cite "most people"
as the authoritative source as to what does and does not make sense...

> Seems to me to be an eminently sensible opinion.

I regret that I cannot share that opinion...

> In fact many people I spoke to were of the opinion that writing and
> publishing were now part of a process and not standalone actions

Duly noted, for the next Gallup poll on people's opinions. But now
perhaps we should focus instead on what actually is the case, logically
and empirically, rather than what many people opine to be the case...

> - except perhaps where the quality of the research is assessed on the basis
> of publications produced.

Whoops! Apparently it has even dawned on "most people" that perhaps --
just perhaps -- what an academic Curriculum Vitae counts as "publications"
under the CV category "Published Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles" just
might -- just might -- have something to do with what is actually meant by
"publications" and "publishing" in this discussion of OA: that possibly --
just possibly -- vanity self-publishing on the web is *not* what the RCUK
self-archiving policy is mandating, and that what is to be self-archived
might perhaps instead be the published peer-reviewed journal articles
that the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) counts and evaluates,
that research-impact citation-counts count, that tenure/promotion
committees reward, and that currently constitute the building blocks
out of which the edifice of research knowledge is built.

So maybe the RCUK policy is not, after all, about changing the "publishing
system," as the Royal Society's position statement on the RCUK proposal
opined, but simply, as it states, about maximising access, usage and
impact for the published journal articles reporting the research that
the RCUK funds.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Dec 07 2005 - 15:55:52 GMT

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