From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 17:47:30 +0100

On Sun, 10 Sep 2000, Chris Armstrong wrote:

> >[self-archiving] occurs IN PARALLEL with the continuing existence
> >of the official "copy of record" (the refereed journal).
> YES. I DO understand all this. Transitional it may be, but you have
> acknowledged that the transition may be long(ish), so, MEANWHILE, users
> are faced with the quality judgements - the kinds of worries I have
> already spelled out - on authority, version and usability.

Unfortunately, it appears that you still don't understand. Perhaps this
will do the trick:

    (1) I am at University U. University U can afford access (by
    Subscription/Site-License-Pay-Per-View) to P% of the refereed
    journal literature. That means it cannot afford access to Q% =
    (100% - P%) of the literature. Let us now speak about papers in
    these Q inaccessible journals.

    (2) The publishers of these Q journals exist. The copies of record
    exist. But I do not have access to them.

    (3) Someone sends me a typescript of (what he says) is the final
    draft of his paper, on topic T, which appeared in journal Q.

    (4) I am myself doing research on topic T.

    (5) What do you suggest I do? Ignore Q, and wait, and hope my
    University will one day afford access?

    (6) Before answering, a priori, for this isolated case, multiply it
    by the full number of articles appearing in those Q% journals, and
    all the researchers, at all the Universities U, that do not now
    have access to them -- and then have a look, a posteriori, at what
    real working researchers have ACTUALLY been doing for close to 10
    years in this specific situation:

Perhaps I could ask you to make explicit exactly what the implications
of your a-priori worries are, for this transition (be it ever so
"longish") -- if they are not already refuted by the a-posteriori data
on actual practise?

Are you recommending Zeno's Paralysis (i.e., don't self-archive, or use
self-archived papers, until/unless there is a failsafe way of
authenticating them against the official draft)?

> To say that "archives are not publishers; they are archives" is pure
> semantics when at the same time you are explaining that the archives
> exist to get papers to a wider audience. If the archives are accessible
> to the world at large, the archive owner has "published" the papers he
> or she adds to it. Thus, the same strictures that relate to conventional
> publishing must relate to archiving. Access and control go hand in
> hand.

There is indeed a trivial semantics of "publishing" -- indeed, a trivial
LEGAL semantics of publishing: The typescript Q sent to me above, is a
"publication," by this general (and irrelevant) legal definition.

The only problem is, what are we then to make of the printed version of
the same article in Journal Q? Has the article been published TWICE? And
must the same "strictures" now be applied to the typescript? (What
are those strictures?)

And (if you find this correct, legal definition of publication too
private), what if I publicly archive the PDF file of the publisher's
page images of article Q on the Web: Is that yet another publication?

Or does it make more sense (and lay to rest these semantic trivia) to
say that there are multiple versions of this same paper, some of them
the official, published version, some of them not?

For if there IS an official, published version, and it resides in the
pages of journal Q, then it seems that the web versions are very much
like author-supplied typescripts; not additional publications, but
different (unofficial, non-guaranteed) modes of access to the one

All of the pertinent strictures of publication having presumably already
been undergone by the official "copy of record," it seems to me that the
only pertinent strictures left are the strictures on access: Do users
prefer having nothing at all, if the official "copy of record" is
inaccessible to them? The obvious answer, both a priori and a
posteriori, is: "Of course not; an "unofficial" copy, self-archived by
the author, for all of the Q% of the literature otherwise inaccessible
to each researcher, is infinitely preferable to no version at all.

> Something IS better than nothing so long as the user is aware of the
> kind of deal s/he is getting.

But users ARE aware! They know when they are accessing the official
"copy of record," from the publisher's official, paid, proprietary
archive, and when they are accessing the author's home-brew,
self-archived in his institution's Eprint Archive, for free. The
sign-posts can be made as clear as we like. (Self-archived drafts could
even carry a health warning, if people thought it necessary!)

> Caveat emptor is all very well, but somewhere in the information
> chain someone has to take responsibility (for ensuring and labelling
> quality) for what I insist on calling the PUBLICATION of papers. They
> may well even be liable (in legal terms) should the paper cause 'harm'.

As we speak, papers are being added to the 130,000 already archived and
heavily used in the Physics Archive, where no one worried about "legal
liability" (or copyright!); they just got on with doing and reporting
their research, pre- and post-refereeing, officially and unofficially.

> Just as ISP are frequently held to account for the content of email
> passing through their servers and publishers for the content of their
> books, archive publishers will be a liable party: I think that they
> will find they need the kind of expertise traditionally associated with
> a conventional publisher - and that this brings with it the need for
> publisher-like roles such as editors. You talk of self-archiving but in
> reality, this will be done on a university/institution computer/network
> and the institution will be culpable.

Why on earth do we need someone to play "publisher-like roles" when
publishers are already playing those roles with the official version?

I regret that I have to repeat: you are confusing PUBLICATION (through
Quality-Qontrol and Certification of the refereed final draft) with
LIBERATION (of access to the refereed final draft, minus the official
certification) through author self-archiving.

> >Much money (S/L/P) will be saved, not spent.
> Yes but the money saved will probably come from the library journals
> purse while the money spent will be computer services who will need to
> administer the archives (in most cases). I would bet that these are too
> far apart to balance!

Well, one can replay Zeno's Paradox, this time worrying not about
whether researchers are smart enough to deal with both official and
unofficial drafts, but about whether universities are smart enough to
find a way to rechannel 10% of their annual windfall savings from
journal subscription cancellations to per-paper refereed-publication
(QC/C) costs for their publishing researchers. I think they will.

But that is in any case not at issue here, since we are talking about
the prior, parallel phase of self-archiving, where no "rebalancing" of
budgets is involved.

As to the cost of mounting and "administering" institutional Eprint
Archives (, the price is so vanishingly minute
per-paper that it is not worth talking about: The institutional traffic
and caching of research-irrelevant personal commerce and pornography
occupies far more institutional bandwidth, sysad-time and storage
capacity -- and that doesn't seem to be worth worrying about either!

Each University's refereed research eprint archive amounts to the flea
on the tail of its network-dog! It can count on a virtually free ride:
The refereed bits haven't a hope of coming anywhere near catching up
with the rest.

> 'To imagine that we need to abstain from self-archiving because the
> self-archived refereed draft is not yet the authenticated refereed
> draft' may well be "Zeno's Paralysis" but to imagine that
> self-archiving is SO different from publishing - different enough that
> the established management models/rules need not apply - is surely
> Zeno's Folly.

And, like Zeno's Paradox, best refuted by just going ahead and doing it,
as the Physicists have already done, and everyone else is now poised to
do too.

> Please, let's not keep pretending that we are NOT talking about
> PUBLICATION and that LIBERATION makes everything OK. LIBERATION may be
> good, but it does not absolve the publishers (quasi-publishers, if you
> will) of their responsibilities.

Chris: If I am no a publisher when I mail out typescripts of my papers
to researchers, I am no publisher if I skywrite them overhead for one
and all, to save myself the postage!

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

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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