Re: Electronic archiving and IIS talk

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2000 18:50:45 +0100

On Sat, 9 Sep 2000, (Chris Armstrong) wrote:

> But what is the single moment? The moment of publication
> or of discovery? And how are users to judge whether the
> authority is extant or out-of-date? Or whether the
> version they are viewing is as accurate as it was when
> published?

This form of worry has already been replied to several times.

To repeat, in the most direct of terms:

(1) Self-archiving is a transitional phase in the freeing of the
refereed literature online.

(2) It occurs IN PARALLEL with the continuing existence of the
official "copy of record" (the refereed journal).

(3) To someone who has no access to that refereed journal (because
his institution cannot afford to subscribe to it), the access to the
self-archived version is the difference between 0 and 1.

(4) A self-archived draft of an author-declared final accepted draft is
NOT the same thing as the official journal version.

(5) But 1 is better than 0.

(6) And adults are capable of taking both differences into account.

It is undoubtedly yet another instance of what I have dubbed "Zeno's
Paralysis" to imagine that we need to abstain from self-archiving
because the self-archived refereed draft is not yet the authenticated
refereed draft.

For the purpose of self-archiving is to free the refereed literature
(unofficially) NOW so as to hasten the freeing of the official
version. Waiting for the latter to happen of its own accord has all
the virtues of 0 over 1.

> I think that it comes down to site security and
> recognition. When an archive has attained sufficient
> status, users will know that a paper published on it is
> "safe" - much as they do now if they visit a known
> scholarly electronic journal.

Correct. But we are not at that stage now, and we may never reach that
stage if we hold off on self-archiving until we are already there!

> Of course this will take
> time (and money at the archive publishers end),

No, it will take authors' self-archiving of their unofficial refereed
drafts, and the pressure this freed literature brings to bear on
publishers to separate the provision of the essential SERVICE of
Quality-Control/Certification {QC/C] (= the official tag) from the
provision of the optional, add-on PRODUCT (the text, whether on-paper
or on-line).

Much money (S/L/P) will be saved, not spent.

And archives are not publishers; they are archives.

> and the
> very status gained will accord the archive much the same
> role as an electronic journal.

This misses the point completely. The journal, whether on-line or on
paper, is the QC/C tag. The rest is just the medium. Archives are just
the medium. QC/C continues to be the official quality-tag.

> And probably by this time,
> they will start charging for use ... and may even start
> calling themselves a meta-journal!!

This completely misses the point of freeing the literature through
self-archiving, and the consequent forced divorce between QC/C and
S/L/P. QC/C is the only essential expense; it is much smaller than
S/L/P. And it will be levied (by publishers) at the author-institution
end, not the reader-institution end. Hence it has nothing to do with
archive use and access-fees.

As long as the research reports are author give-aways (as they always
have been), and access-barriers are author IMPACT-barriers (as they
always have been), it is in no researcher's or researcher's
institution's interest to charge access fees.

And the journal(s) will continue to be what they always have been,
medium-invariantly: the implementers of the QC/C, at a hierarchy of
quality levels across the spectrum of disciplines and specialties.

Please, let's not keep confusing LIBERATION with PUBLICATION.

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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