Re: The American Physical Society Is Not The Culprit: We Are

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 11:25:39 -0400

                      ** Apologies for Cross-Posting **
The American Physical Society Is Not The Culprit: We Are
 "Physicists slam publishers over Wikipedia ban"
New Scientist 16 March 2008

Following an exchange of correspondence with Jonathan Oppenheim and Bill Unruh about the above posting, I want to stress that I agree completely with Jonathan Oppenheim's and Bill Unruh's ends:


  (1) Derivative Works. Authors should be able to publish new articles which "differ in some reasonable way from the original work, even while possibly retaining much of the original."

I also think APS authors can already do this, and that APS would no more try to prosecute its authors for this practice than it tried to prosecute them for practicing self-archiving (before APS went on to adapt to evolving practice by formally adopting its Green OA policy, the first Green OA publisher policy, and a model for them all).

With derivative works too, formal APS policy will eventually adapt to evolving practice that is to the benefit of research progress in physics. Let practice again precede and guide precept.

(Note that published postprints are in fact "derivative works" relative to unpublished preprints.)

  (2) Creative Commons Licensing. I am also fully in favor of CC licensing -- but not as a precondition for OA self-archiving today. All authors should adopt the CC license of their choice whenever they can. And where they cannot, they should just go ahead and self-archive under the Green publisher's current copyright agreement.

(If the publisher is not Green, authors should immediately deposit anyway; and if they wish to set access to their deposit as Closed Access instead of OA during an embargo period, they should rely on their repository's semi-automatic "email eprint request" Button to provide almost-immediate, almost-OA for all would-be users during any publisher embargo.)

(I do believe, though, that CC licensing will prevail as a matter of natural course, after universal OA has prevailed.)

So whereas I agree with Jonathan's and Bill's ends, I do not agree with their means.

Rather than trying to force an immediate formal policy change (if APS feels it needs more time to think it through), I think Jonathan and Bill should just go ahead and practice what they seek to practice: publish new articles which differ in some reasonable way from the original work, even while possibly retaining much of the original, or post them to wikis like Quantiki if they wish. APS formal precept will again follow evolving practice in due course, as it did with author self-archiving.

(By the way, the meaning of the enigmatic title "The American Physical Society is Not the Culprit: We Are" was of course that the reason we don't yet have universal OA [and all that follows from it] is that we are not yet universally self-archiving.)

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Tue Apr 01 2008 - 18:54:32 BST

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