Re: Stevan Harnad's misconception 4

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 19:33:43 +0000

On Wed, 28 Feb 2007, Velterop, Jan, Springer UK wrote:

> Misconception: Articles are a 'product', presented as a 'gift' to
> publishers.
> Though the difference between 'product' and 'service' is somewhat
> artificial (some speak of a 'service product'), what publishers have
> provided has always been a 'service'. The service consisted - and still
> consists - of arranging all that's necessary to make a scientifically
> non-recognised piece of work (pretty much 'worthless' for the scientific
> establishment), into a scientifically recognised addition to the
> knowledge pool (a valuable piece of work, identifiable as such by the
> fact that it is formally published in a peer-reviewed journal).
> For the purpose of communicating information it may be good enough, but
> for the purpose of constituting the scientific record what the author
> delivers is only raw material, at best a semi-product, an intermediate
> good.
> The author doesn't 'give' anything to a publisher, but instead, asks for
> a service. Stevan thinks that such a service should be delivered at
> vastly reduced costs. He is most welcome to set up as a publisher and do
> just that. But he doesn't want to take the risk that's associated with
> setting up such a service, so he tries to off-load any risk to the
> existing publishers by getting politicians to mandate subversion
> (
> OA publishers offer the service he seeks. Authors have by now a wide
> range of journals with OA to choose to submit to. What is he waiting
> for? Authors' uptake. We all do.

It is interesting how Jan's financial analysis fits, indifferently, the writings
author sell to their publishers for a fee, or against royalties, on the
one hand, and, on the other hand, the writings in question here, where
the author gives them to their publishers, the peer review is likewise
done for free, and all publishers do is administer it, paying no fees,
no royalties.

I note that the authors of fee/royalty-based writings are not interested in making
their writings OA. Researchers, the authors of the give-away writings in question,

So I return to the basic question: How can Jan say he is for OA if he is against
Green OA mandates? Is it that he is for OA *only if*... (where "..." concerns some
of the funding matters Jan seems far more preoccupied with than OA?)

Well then what OA needs now is those who support OA, now, not "OA-only-if..."
(where "..." concerns some of the funding matters Jan seems far more
preoccupied with than OA).

Stevan Harnad

> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: SPARC Open Access Forum []
> > On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> > Sent: 28 February 2007 04:09
> > To: SPARC Open Access Forum
> > Subject: [SOAF] Reply to Jan Velterop, and a Challenge to
> > "OA" Publishers Who Oppose Mandating OA via Self-Archiving
> >
> > ** Cross-Posted **
> >
> [cut]
> >
> > I happen to think that this will conflict-of-interest will
> > only sort itself out if and when what used to be a product --
> > a peer-reviewed, published journal article, online or on
> > paper -- ceases to be a product at all (or at least a
> > publisher's product), sold to the user-institution, and
> > becomes instead a service (the 3rd-party management of peer
> > review, and the certification of its outcome), provided by
> > the publisher to the author's institution and funder.
> >
> >
> >
> > I also happen to think that only Green OA mandates can drive
> > this transition from the current subscription-based
> > cost-recovery model to the publication service-fee-based
> > model, with the distributed network of institutional OA
> > repositories making it possible for journals to offload all
> > their current access-provision and archiving burden and its
> > costs onto the repositories, distributed worldwide, thereby
> > allowing journals to cut publication costs and downsize to
> > become providers of the peer-review service alone, with its
> > reduced cost recovered via institutional publication fees
> > paid out of the institutional subscription-cancellation savings.
> >
> [cut]
Received on Wed Feb 28 2007 - 19:56:30 GMT

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