Re: Optimal OA IR Preprint and Postprint Deposit and Withdrawal Policy

From: Simeon Warner <simeon_at_CS.CORNELL.EDU>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 10:36:34 -0400

On Fri, 11 Aug 2006, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> UNREFEREED PREPRINTS: If you want authors to be willing to deposit
> their unrefereed *preprints* at all, you *must* allow them to remove
> them at will, instantaneously.
> (It is a good and useful author practice to self-archive preprints:
> it establishes priority, it elicits corrective peer feedback, it
> creates a historic record of stages of development of a work, it
> accelerates and increases research impact and progress. But if the
> institution imposes a foolishly oppressive removal policy, authors
> will simply be discouraged from taking the useful step of depositing
> their unrefereed preprints in the first place).

I disagree with Stevan here, and this is not the policy we follow at
arXiv. If you expect a preprint to allow authors to establish priority
then you are saying that the preprint has become part of the scholarly
record and it should thus not be removed. In arXiv we allow authors to
post a withdrawal notice but old versions remain publicly available (in a
very small number of cases of copyright infringement and personal insult we
have removed articles).

For a thought experiment to help with this, imagine multiple solutions to
some problem to an archive and then removing all but the correct one
at some later date. Is that a reasonable way to establish priority?

I think the option to allow authors to remove e-prints is simply an
unpleasant compromise that may be necessary to help populate repositories.
One could hope that the option might later be removed in a
bait-and-switch move. This was how it played out in arXiv though it was
not thought of in that way. Versions have been stored since 1997 but
before that a revision overwrote the previous version.

Received on Fri Aug 11 2006 - 21:03:19 BST

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