Re: Open Letter to Philip Campbell, Editor, Nature

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 13:49:55 +0000

On Thu, 30 Nov 2006, Peter Banks wrote:
> > SH:
> > "It is quite appropriate, however, that publishers should refrain
> > from expressing their opinions on the subject of OA self-archiving
> > mandates, as OA self-archiving mandates are *entirely* a research
> > community matter and not a publishing matter at all."
> This is truly an astounding statement. It is publishers who fund and conduct
> the peer review that supports the deposit of post-prints of any validity and
> quality in repositories. When, and only when, researchers or repositories
> take responsibility for peer review themselves can they presume to shove
> publishers aside.

(1) Nothing whatsoever was said about "shoving publishers aside."

(2) The subject under discussion is whether or not research institutions and
funders should require self-archiving of their peer-reviewed papers.

(3) Yes, publishers fund the conduct of peer review.

(4) But researchers perform the peer review for publishers for free
(no fee)

(5) just as researchers conduct the research itself, and (unlike all other
authors) *give* the paper to publishers for free (no fee, no royalties)

(6) allowing publishers to sell the outcome for a subscription/license fee
to recover their costs and to make a fair profit

(7) which publishers are indeed doing today, as has always been the case,
in exchange for having funded and conducted the service of peer review.

(8) The only matter at issue is whether researchers can and should
maximise the usage and impact of their findings in the online era,
rather than continue to restrict it only to those researchers who can
afford subscription/license access to the publishers' version.

(9) What is astounding about saying that that is a matter for the research
community alone, not the publishing community, to decide?

(10) To put it very bluntly: Are research access and impact to remain
restricted in order to protect publishers' current revenue streams from
any potential risk that might be entailed by self-archiving?

> As someone who as a publisher supported Dr. Harnad's programme by allowing
> the deposit of accepted papers in any repository ON ACCEPTANCE,

As you are such a publisher, what I wrote should surely have no bearing
whatsoever on your own admirable and welcome position. What I wrote
bears only on those publishers who oppose such deposits, and lobby
against research funders and institutions mandating them.

> I am nonetheless affronted by the suggestion that publishers have no role in the
> development of repositories. If institutional repositories are to have any
> future, they will have to peacefully (or at least a close approximation of
> it) co-exist with journals.

I quite agree. I did not write that publishers have no role in the
development of repositories. Publishers can play a very helpful and
positive role in the development of repositories, first, by endorsing
(as you do, and as 69% of journals do) "the deposit of accepted papers
in any repository ON ACCEPTANCE". (Many thanks for that! It is not a
necessity, but it is a great help!)

Next, if what has been given by one hand is not to be taken away by the
other, publishers should of course refrain from lobbying against research
funders' and institutions' mandating "the deposit of accepted papers in
any repository ON ACCEPTANCE". (Where do you stand on that?)

With publishers endorsing OA self-archiving, and not opposing
self-archiving mandates, it seems to be tautological that self-archiving
and self-archiving mandates are "*entirely* a research community matter
and not a publishing matter at all." (Would you agree? Or are those
publishers who oppose self-archiving or self-archiving mandates to be
given a hand in deciding whether research is self-archived and its access
and impact maximised?)

And last, there are indeed many collaborative and mutually beneficial
things that the research community and the publishing community can do
in order to co-exist not only peacefully but fruitfully. I cited a
discussion of some of them:

    Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005)
    Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful Co-Existence
    and Fruitful Collaboration

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Nov 30 2006 - 20:48:28 GMT

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