Re: PostGutenberg Copyrights and Wrongs for Give-Away Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 13:50:38 +0100

On Fri, 1 Jun 2001, George Lundberg wrote:

> In the document entitled Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted
> to Medical Journals published by the International Committee of Medical
> Journal Editors it is stated that "...electronic publication is
> publication..." Most such journals do not wish to consider for
> publication a paper that has already been published. Thus an author can
> choose the initial method of distribution of written work once only.

It is not clear to me why George posted this comment in the
"Copyright" thread. Nor does the brief passage he quotes appear
in the version I found on the Web (original draft 1978, revised in
1997, last update of web version 5 May 2000).

The closest approximation I could find was:

               "Most journals do not wish to receive papers on work that
               has already been reported in large part in a published
               article or is described in a paper that has been
               submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, in
               print or in electronic media. This policy does not
               preclude the journal considering a paper that has been
               rejected by another journal, or a complete report that
               follows publication of a preliminary report such as an
               abstract or poster displayed for colleagues at a
               professional meeting. Nor does it prevent journals
               considering a paper that has been presented at a
               scientific meeting but not published in full or that is
               being considered for publication in a proceedings or
               similar format."

I doubt that George is meaning to construe this as the "Ingelfinger
Rule," which has nothing to do with copyright, and which some
journals try to invoke as a justification for declining to publish or
even to referee papers that have been archived online as preprints.

If that is George's intention, then please note that the Ingelfinger
Rule is neither a legal matter nor is it enforceable. Nor does it have
any justification -- scientific, ethical, or otherwise. It is merely a
measure for protecting journal revenue streams. (About protecting
public health, see references below.) And it has been discussed in this
Forum, before (e.g., under the thread "Ingelfinger and physics

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in
    the Future of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. Lancet
    Perspectives 256 (December Supplement): s16.

    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
    Journalof Medicine]

Nor do I think George is merely trying to remind us of a home truth
that everyone in the American Scientist Forum surely knows and accepts
already: That a refereed electronic-only journal is indeed a journal,
hence publication in such a journal is indeed publication.

So just what point WAS George trying to make with this posting?

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 Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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