What is wrong with this picture? (Refereed Journal Publishing)

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_coglit.ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 11:14:37 +0100

    [The following concerns refereed research report publication.]

What is wrong with the following picture?

    (1) A brand-new PhD recipient proudly tells his mother he has just
    published his first article. She asks him how much he was paid for
    it. He makes a face and tells her "nothing," and then begins a long
    complicated explanation.

    (2) A fellow-researcher at that same university sees a reference to
    that same article. He goes to their library to get it: It's not
    subscribed to here; can't afford that journal; subscription budget
    already overspent.

    (3) An undergraduate, same university, sees the same article
    cited on the Web; clicks on it. The publisher's website demands a
    password: only paid subscribing institutions can have access.

    (4) The undergraduate loses patience, gets bored, and clicks on
    napster to grab an MP3 file of his favorite bootleg music CD to
    console him in his sorrows.

    (5) Years later, the same PhD is being considered for tenure; his
    publications are good, but they're not cited enough; they have not
    made enough of a research impact. Tenure denied.

    (6) Same thing happens when he tries to get a research grant: his
    research findings have not had enough of an impact: not enough
    researchers have read and cited them.

    (7) He decides to write a book instead. Publisher declines to
    publish it: It wouldn't sell enough copies because not enough
    universities have enough money to pay for it -- their purchasing
    budgets are tied up paying for their inflating annual journal
    subscription costs.

    (8) He tries to put his articles up on the Web, free for all, to
    increase their impact; his publisher threatens to sue him for
    violation of copyright.

    (9) He asks his publisher who the copyright is intended to protect.

    (10) His publisher replies: You!

What is wrong with this picture? (And why is the mother of the PhD
whose give-away work people cannot steal, even though he wants them
to, in the same boat as the mother of the recording artist whose
non-give-away work they can and do steal, even though he does not
want them to?)

Stevan Harnad harnad_at_cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science harnad_at_princeton.edu
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/

Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication
Continuum of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 - 343
(reprinted in Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991).

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in the
Means of Production of Knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems Review
2 (1): 39 - 53 (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume 2 1992; and
in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last Word. Beach Holme
Publishers, 1992; and in: M. Strangelove & D. Kovacs: Directory of
Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists (A.
Okerson, ed), 2nd edition. Washington, DC, Association of Research
Libraries, Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992); and in
Hungarian translation in REPLIKA 1994; and in Japanese in "Research and
Development of Scholarly Information Dissemination Systems 1994-1995.

Harnad, S. (1995) Universal FTP Archives for Esoteric Science and
Scholarship: A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O'Donnell
(Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for
Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research
Libraries, June 1995.

Harnad, S. (1998) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online]
(5 Nov. 1998)
Longer version:

Harnad, S. (1999) Free at Last: The Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals.
D-Lib Magazine 5(12) December 1999

Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic publishing in the
online era. Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)

Harnad, S. (2000) E-Knowledge: Freeing the Refereed Journal Corpus
Online. Computer Law & Security Report 16(2)
78-87. [Rebuttal to Bloom Editorial in Science and Relman Editorial in
New England Journal of Medicine]

NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature is available at the American
Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):


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Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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