Re: wikipedia, open access and publishing

From: Marc Couture <jaamcouture_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2010 12:01:42 -0400

Jean Kempf wrote:

> The debate about wikipedia and the definition of Open Access seems to me both
> and revealing of the view we have that the "electronic" world would be in any
> way different from the paper world.

When I raised the possible confusion about the meaning of "publishing" or
"publication", I was in no way implying that things had changed in that regard
in the "electronic world". The expression "vanity publishing" existed before the
Web: some individuals did indeed "publish" and distribute their own books
without any intermediary. Physics departments would regularly receive such books
(by snail mail), which proposed, for instance, a new theory of Relativity, or a
refutation of Newton's laws of motion.

So "publish" was already used in different ways before everyone could post on
the Web their own theory of Relativity, or their working papers or preprints.

But I would not say that this debate is "scholastic" (though I'm not really sure
what Jean implied), when one considers the following: calling "publishing" the
act of posting on an IR an unrefereed text (for instance a working paper, which
may or may not evolve into a journal article) fuels the idea that IRs could (or
should) become the preferred, or even the only way to publish scholarly papers.
This in turn raises the issue of validation: should IRs provide peer-reviewing,
or should peer-reviewing be dropped altogether in favour of a kind of a
posteriori validation à la Web 2.0?

These arguments have been regularly raised in this forum and elsewhere, often by
skeptics or opponents of Green OA. I believe that they bring much confusion to
what Green OA is about: access to (mainly) peer-reviewed published scholarly
documents, and not a new, alternative way of publishing.

Call me scholastic, or even pedantic if you wish, but that's the reason I keep
on thinking that adding "(publishing)" in the title of the Wikipedia article, in
which Green OA is defined as above, is a bad idea.

Marc Couture
Received on Tue May 18 2010 - 17:59:06 BST

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