Re: Self-Archiving and the reaction of publishers

From: Bernard Naylor <B.Naylor_at_SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 12:12:20 +0000

I think it is necessary for me to make a further
contribution to this discussion.

We need to be clear that a communication with deliberately
limited circulation (category 1 as defined by Stevan
Harnad)is not published in any sense of the term. It is
emphatically not "published" in the legal sense - though it
is protected by copyright, as is any unpublished
manuscript. Limited circulation of one's thoughts is a
well understood device for testing one's views on people
who (one judges) might have useful comments to make towards
the process of refining them, before they are "published",
that is, offered to the world at large.

With respect to Stevan Harnad's category 2, refereeing is
not an intrinsic requirement, except in so far as Stevan
Harnad seeks to make it so. Many intellectual statements
have been, and are proclaimed to the world, on paper,
without ever being refereed. It is done without thought of
reward and to characterise it as "vanity publishing" seems
to me to be simply "name calling". The important and
distinguishing feature is not that a statement is refereed,
though I do believe firmly that refereeing does serve a very
useful purpose, albeit not an intrinsic or absolutely
essential purpose, in the process of scholarly
communication. The fundamental feature of scholarly
publication, which has been well recognised for centuries,
is that an intellectual statement is offered to the whole
world so that anyone can test it and judge it.

E-print repositories are a relatively new feature on the
scene and we do need to settle, without too much delay,
what they imply. I shall need a good deal of persuading
that an intellectual statement, refereed or not, which is
deposited in an e-repository, is not "offered to the whole
world so that anyone can test it and judge it". There is
therefore very little doubt in my mind how this will be
resolved. I think we shall in due course have to accept
that an intellectual statement which is deposited in an
e-repository is published. Of course, this could well have
serious implications for the way we view certain existing
elements in the chain of scholarly communication, in
particular, print-on-paper journals which publish
intellectual statements which have previously been
offered to the world, by deposit in an e-repository.
Sooner or later, we shall have to get round to facing up to
that. The sooner the better in my view.

Bernard Naylor

On Mon, 6 Nov 2000 19:33:01 +0000 (GMT) Stevan Harnad
<> wrote:

> On Mon, 6 Nov 2000, Bernard Naylor wrote:
> > The question of when and where Dr X went public to "the whole world" on
> > a scientific matter - and I mean scientific in the broadest sense -
> > seems to me to be an intrinsic feature of our present system of
> > scholarly communication.
> My colleague Bernard Naylor makes some thoughtful points about
> preprints, eprints, priority, plagiarism and publication, but I
> am afraid some properties get spuriously linked to other properties
> just because of our word-choice.
> We can use "publication" in at least two ways:
> (1) Making one's words PUBLIC. Legally speaking, one is already
> PUBLISHING in this sense when one records one's words in the written
> medium (I don't know about voice recording on tape): One written letter
> is a "publication," and the author's intellectual property, his text, is
> protected by copyright (if asserted, and provable).
> (2) A second sense of publication, one specific to the special
> literature that is under discussion here -- the refereed research
> literature -- is the appearance (on-paper or on-line) under a
> publisher's "imprimatur," certifying that paper has been refereed and
> accepted by that journal. For this special literature, "publication" in
> this second, scholarly rather than legal sense, refers to REFEREED,
> PUBLISHER-CERTIFIED publication, as opposed to self-certified, "vanity
> press" publication (in a non-refereed "journal").
> Pre-refereeing "preprints" would fall under (1) above, whereas
> post-refereeing postprints would fall under (2), regardless of whether
> they were on-paper or on-line ("eprints").
> Priority is a matter that often pertains to (1) (and may even be
> asserted on the basis of an oral conference report). By the same token,
> plagiarism is also a matter of concern for (1) as well as (2).
> The only remaining question is: What does a PUBLISHER regard as "prior
> publication," if that publisher has a policy (sic) of not publishing
> (or refereeing) anything that has already been published? (And, of
> course, the ancillary question, "Why?" i.e., "What is the justification
> for the policy?")
> Note, however, that the answer to the latter questions will differ for
> the special literature under discussion here (the refereed research
> literature, which is and always has been an author-give-away) and the
> rest of the literature (monographs, textbooks, magazine articles, which
> are written by their authors for royalties or fees, hence they are not
> author-give-aways).
> For the non-give-away literature, it is clear that the rationale for the
> "no prior publication" policy is revenue: Why should I waste my
> resources on re-publishing something that has already been published,
> rather than something has not? Something that has already been
> published has already exhausted all or part of its potential market.
> That is all well and good. But what is the rationale for the "no prior
> publication" policy in the case of the (author) give-away literature?
> Is a researcher, for example, not to report his findings at a
> conference, nor send (paper) preprints to colleagues, etc., because
> they technically fall under (1), above, and hence constitute "prior
> publication"?
> The two papers I cited in my prior posting discuss these questions of
> justification:
> but to answer Bernard we need not examine those questions of
> justification. We need merely make the distinctions I made above
> (between (1) and (2) and between preprints and postprints). Then
> some straightforward answers to Bernard's questions immediately suggest
> themselves:
> > Scholarly communication and the building of scholarly knowledge assumes
> > that someone makes a "public statement of position" of this kind and
> > must then accept that their ideas can be tested in the usual ways which
> > operate in the various disciplines.
> Correct. And the scholarly community (indeed the "peer" community) is
> familiar with, and quite experienced in making the distinction between
> "public statements" of kind (1) and kind (2), i.e., between unrefereed
> preprints and refereed postprints. Preprints are fine for asserting
> priority, and preventing plagiarism, but caveat emptor when it comes to
> trusting the validity of the findings until they have successfully
> passed through the filter of peer review to (2).
> > Scholarly communication also assumes that going public in this way
> > implicitly underpins any future claim to have been the first to state
> > something, in any future dispute about "who got there first".
> Correct. And it is important, given the unavoidable delays in the peer
> review process, and the (avoidable) delays in the subsequent
> publication process, to be able to assert priority as early as possible
> (e.g., via (1), preprints). Otherwise you risk not being given credit
> for having said and done it first (in the case of a prior, independent
> discovery) or worse, you might even be plagiarized, with someone
> getting hold of your text and claiming to have said and done it first
> themselves (the more public you make your text the better, to protect
> from plagiarism, and public archiving along with digital date-stamping
> is one of the best ways to do so).
> > Hence, it has always seemed to me to be essential that we need to be
> > clear whether the deposit of an article in an e-print archive
> > represents "publication", not for legal or policy reasons but because
> > of the nature of scholarship and the way that the corpus of knowledge
> > of any particular discipline is built up, through the efforts of
> > individual scholars over time.
> But it is a legal/policy matter that preprints are "publications" in
> sense (1), because these priority/plagiarism issues are legal issues
> (journals also have policies about it, because they too suffer from
> having their texts stolen, though not quite in the same place that
> an author suffers from having his authorship stolen).
> On the other hand, publication in sense (2) is what other researchers
> who are considering whether to cite and try to build upon the work, or
> tenure/promotion committees who are considering whether to reward the
> worker must await; the rest is uncertified vanity-press for most of
> their scholarly purposes.
> > At present, we do not seem to be clear - though it looks to me, for all
> > intents and purposes, as though deposit of an article in an e-print
> > repository represents "publication" in the scholarly sense. How would
> > anyone who plagiarised such a deposited article stand if they claimed
> > that the knowledge they had plagiarised "had not been published" and
> > therefore that the intellectual ownership of it had not been
> > established to the world at large in the traditional scholarly way?
> See above. Plagiarism, a legal matter, concerns publication (1) just
> as much as publication (2).
> > It may be that, in the world of e-repositories, the whole question of
> > what constitutes "first publication" needs to be re-examined carefully.
> > My guess is that sooner or later there will be a row about it, probably
> > between two ambitious and competitive scholars. It would be better if
> > we were clear on this point before that happens.
> It will no doubt be re-examined, and the outcome is fairly clear,
> insofar as the legal assertion of priority and detection of plagiarism
> is concerned. (Note that publication (2), and hence publisher policies
> with regard to publication (2) have nothing to do with any of this,)
> > If the conclusion is that prior deposit in an e-archive is
> > "publication" in the scholarly sense, I should be rather surprised if
> > publishers don't consider that important. "You first read it in our
> > pages" is one of the things they pride themselves on.
> Yes, but whereas in non-author-give-away publication it was not only
> both the author's and the publisher's "pride" but also their (joint)
> PURSE that was the decisive concern in this matter of prior
> publication. With the author-give-away literature, the pride (the
> author's) and the purse (the publisher's) are in conflict.
> Is there any doubt as to how this conflict of interest can, should, and
> will be resolved?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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 the ongoing discussion of providing free
> access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
> American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):
> You may join the list at the site above.
> Discussion can be posted to:

Bernard Naylor Email:
University Librarian Tel: 023 8059 2677
University of Southampton Fax: 023 8059 5451
Southampton, SO17 1BJ
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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