Why Cloture was Invoked on the Cal Tech Critique of Ransdell

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_coglit.ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 15:03:59 +0100

On Wed, 18 Aug 1999, Ransdell, Joseph M. wrote:

>sh> Hence if you want to make common cause with Joseph Ransdell's unabating
>sh> worries IN THIS SPECIFIC DOMAIN it is absolutely incumbent on you to
>sh> find some credible, specific scenario for a conflict of interest.
> >
>sh> Otherwise continuing to voice nonspecific doubts is merely
>sh> conspiratorial thinking, and in this case, extremely counterproductive,
>sh> where a confluence of interests is so obvious and could make for such
>sh> an effective and mutually beneficial alliance.
> Your response might be more plausible, Stevan, if you had ever responded
> to the four reasons I did give in the Chronicle colloquy, which I
> repeatedly asked you to do and you repeatedly just ignored. They are as
> follows:
> (1) Many universities are run largely by business people who do not
> think that the product of a person's work should be given away freely,
> particularly when they are themselves part owners of it as regents or
> whatever. Administrators are quite as likely to accommodate them as they
> are to accommodate faculty researchers if a disagreement should develop.

Promotion, tenure, grants, prestige -- all depend on publishing in
refereed journals. Everyone knows this, EVEN the "business people" who
run the universities. Being published in a prestigious refereed journal
is equivalent to money in the bank. No one ever thought that "giving"
those papers to refereed journals was a LOSS of money: it WAS money
(the familiar "publish or perish" factor).

This worry, in other words, can be directed at potentially
profit-making monographs, textbooks, software, patents, inventions,
etc. -- any of the NON-give-away literature, but not the refereed
journal literature, which is (and always has been) the ONLY literature
under discussion here.

In short, (1) is completely absurd, I have answered it in many of
Joseph's variant forms before, both directly and indirectly, and I do
so again here, for the very last time, to show I have no animus against
Joseph, nor any agenda for suppressing debate on anything. This line of
worry is simply a nonstarter, and it is wasting our time, and deterring
us from the substantive issues at hand.

> (2) Research concerned in one way and another with human life -- in
> other words, nearly all research outside of the hard sciences [and much
> within it, I should have said] -- is subject to assessment from moral,
> political, and religious perspectives, and universities can have
> powerful practical motives for discouraging or not permitting
> unrestricted access to some such material regardless of how well
> justified it is on scholarly grounds.

Reply is the same as above: Was this research until now reported in
refereed journals? If it was not, then it is not the research under
discussion here. If it was, and that was not "discouraged"
previously, then there is no earthly reason it should be discouraged
when the author is merely self-archiving it online so as to amplify (by
orders of magnitude) the reach of those published refereed journal
articles (the "money in the bank" publish/perish factor for author and

Again, a completely misdirected conspiratorial view.

> (3) When the professor who authored the work leaves for another post,
> the university may not think it appropriate to accommodate the
> unrestricted distribution of work which is its own property by someone
> no longer affiliated with it -- who may even be a member of another
> university regarded as competitive to it.

This is such nonsense as to take one's breath away: I publish an
article in a refereed journal, as ever, and my institutional
affiliation on that article is my current university. What happens to
that article when I leave? Does the affiliation change?

We have important and urgent things to discuss in this Forum. I hope it
is clear that no one benefits from my being forced to formulate
banal "rebuttals" like this one over and over.

> (4) There have been a number of reports in recent years of conflicts
> between faculty and administration concerning intellectual property
> rights in regard to websites as a whole and the material on them. There
> is nothing in these reports to suggest that faculty can simply take it
> for granted that administrators are going to regard electronic research
> materials in a way that the faculty might think appropriate.

We are not talking here about any other form of intellectual property
than published refereed journal articles -- and the author's right to
self-archive them, free for all. Moreover, there are to be many public
archives to self-archive them in: LANL, CogPrints, E-biomed, Scholar's
Forum, and all the University and Departmental Archives. The archiving
will be distributed and redundant. It is a complete misunderstanding of
to think of distributed, redundant public archiving as a "website"
that a university might own or suppress.

Public self-archiving (and the right to do it) is infinitely wider than
a page of paper, a journal, a library or a university. The Cal Tech
shared-copyright scheme is designed in the SERVICE of this right to
self-archive publicly, and Steve Koonin has stated that that right
would be explicitly written into it.


Hence this worry that it may all be about secretly planning to SUPPRESS
self-archiving is just not worthy of any further airtime!

> And these are just things that occurred to me as fast as I could type
> them out. HOw many more there might turn out to be if this issue were
> ever publicly vetted properly I don't know, but you might start with
> answering these. Hardly any day passes any more without news of
> administrators here or there driving a further wedge between themselves
> and faculty, whether it takes the form of "symbolic" gestures like
> constantly widening the salary gap or provosts' calling themselves
> CEO's, or the continuing reduction in advise and consent functions on
> the pretext that competitive procedures require faster decision making
> or the blatant adoption of the knowledge factory conception of the
> university?

As before, I decline to get involved in any of these worthy but
totally irrelevant issues, and I cannot allow them to keep being
injected into a coherent and timely topic that is completely
independent of them and needs clear thinking and action of its own.

> And why is this topic NOT being publicly discussed in the way it
> obviously should be?

You have repeatedly suggested that now it is _I_ who am suppressing
discussion. Here you are then. You have your replies (and not for the
first time), but now let this really be the end of it...

Stevan Harnad harnad_at_cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science harnad_at_princeton.edu
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 2380 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 2380 592-865
University of Southampton http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/
SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM ftp://ftp.princeton.edu/pub/harnad/
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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