Re: 2.0K vs. 0.2K

From: Steve Hitchcock <sh94r_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 14:03:34 +0100

At 09:44 PM 5/12/99 +0100, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>As you see, intellectual pluralism prevails at Southampton, for my
>colleague Steve Hitchcock has posted something with which I could not
>disagree more:

I'm not sure exactly what is so strongly disagreed with here. All I did was
lay out two preconditions to begin the shift in scholary publishing and
then suggest that we should not get weighed down, yet, by market
considerations such as S/L/P vs page charges, etc. That part is premature
because we should not try to alter the market before users have new and
real alternative choices. Subsequent mails in this thread continue to
emphasise the market issue, but let's face it, there is still so much to be
done to convince the users outside physics even of the validity if the free
archive approach:

>It is proving something of an educational battle to get scholars to
>realize that (free) self-archiving is overwhelmingly in their best
>interests now. Trying to persuade them to do it, and to PAY for it too,
>under the circumstances, turns the optimal and inevitable into an
>Escherian impossible figure.

The market debate is not going to change that.

If the disagreement was over the centrality, or form, of the question below
to the issues...

> shi> The real question is, does this position enhance APS' competitive
> shi> position or detract from it? If it detracts, then this may not remain
> shi> "current official policy" for long (noting also that APS will not now
> shi> be able to revert to any previously-held position). If it enhances,
> shi> presumably other publishers will move to emulate it.

... then that's perhaps because it is really aimed at APS and other
publishers who may have similar plans, but to take the current response

>APS's raison d'etre is and always has been to provide the physics
>readership with articles of that quality to read, and to provide the
>physics authorship with journals of that quality to appear in; the
>APS's raison d'etre has never been to "enhance APS's competitive
>position." Providing that quality IS APS's "competitive position"!

Whatever APS' raison d'etre, it has to compete to support it.

>Now, is there any reason whatsoever for believing that increasing the
>availability of APS articles by an order of magnitude -- by allowing
>APS authors to self-archive them publicly online, effectively providing
>limitless free reprints to anyone who wants them -- will DECREASE the
>attractiveness of those journals to their authorship or readership?

As things stand now, for physics the answer is 'possibly' (if it forces
e.g. APS to change its market position now); for other fields it may even
be 'yes'. The infrastructure required to turn this answer around is not yet
in place: easy-to-use, reliable free e-archives with attractive features,
and high awareness throughout the academic community and across all
disciplines. Now I wonder who might take that challenge on ...

Steve Hitchcock
Open Journal Project
Multimedia Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (01)703 593256 Fax: +44 (01)703 592865
Open Journal Project Web page
"Bringing journals alive on the World Wide Web"
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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