Re: Incentives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 22:08:23 +0100

On Mon, 10 Jul 2000, Peter Singer wrote:

> Here is the part I don't get, Stevan. If a researcher chooses not to post
> an electronic unrefereed preprint because of restrictive journal embargo
> policies, and the journal insists on copyright, how can the peer-reviewed
> literature be freed?

What I said was that embargoes are not legal matters and can and should
be ignored. They are also not enforceable; so until they are formally
dropped, self-archived preprints can simply be made cosmetically
different enough from the submitted draft to be undetectable.

> Stevan, help me out here. If i want my paper published in the highest
> impact medicine journal, and that journal's restrictive embargo policy
> precludes self-archiving the unrefereed preprint, and its restrictive
> copyright policy prevents me from archiving the referreed postprint, what
> should i do? Hint: "Publish somewhere else" is not advice most people will
> heed because of the incentives and reward system of academic medicine.

Don't pick your journal on the basis of its copyright policy but on the
basis of the established quality of its QC/C: If you are forced to sign
a copyright transfer agreement that forbids self-archiving, just archive
the corrigenda as an addendum to the already legally archived preprint,
specifying what changes must be made to turn it into the final refereed

>sh> Republication by other journals is utterly irrelevant, once the
>sh> refereed version is free for all online.
> Maybe now but not in the future. Journals, especially those that are
> focussed on secondary review, will be an important element in a quality
> assessment system. One can envision the same article "published" in
> several journals, and this would be an indicator of its quality.

Umm, given that its refereed final draft, already accepted and
published by journal Q, is online already, in an Open Archive free for
all, always, if the referees of journal R really have nothing better to
do than to re-referee already refereed papers again, why can't they
referee it and assign it their QC/C tag too, and then just link to

Better still, why don't the "referees" get a bit more credit for their
supernumerary efforts by publishing their QCC accreditation as a peer
commentary (citing and linking the original paper) in a prestigious
peer commentary journal?

> The current sentiment regarding "republication" is a social convention
> rooted in the old model of information dissemination using paper journals.

Actually, it's only words that stand in our way. Once the refereed
paper is online in a distributed archive, having passed at least one
QC/C filter (for a FEE, in my model), if there is the time and talent
to keep QC/C-ing it over and over again (for free? for another fee?),
there's nothing to stop entities from doing it: But why call them
"publishers" rather than "re-certifiers"? or maybe "reviewers"!

The trouble with all this is that the ones who get the QC/C fee are the
IMPLEMENTERS of the QC/C, not the referees themselves. And whereas
referees (for reasons I have analyzed several times in other threads,
having mainly to do with the Golden Rule and intrinsic interest in the
paper the first time 'round) are willing to referee something the
first time, for the right journal, it is not clear that they would (or
should) be willing to devote still more of their time to refereeing (and
re-refereeing) instead of to researching...

[Please, please, let's not put on the old record about paying referees
again! Short answer: there isn't faintly enough money to ever make it
worth their while if the Golden-Rule considerations are not already
enough to make them willing to do it for free: We're talking about a
HUGE annual literature here, most of it destined to go uncited and
virtually unread.]

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

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