NEJM's New Website and New Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001 15:06:19 +0100

 ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001 09:00:43 -0400
> From: Peter Singer <>
> To: Stevan Harnad <>
> Subject: NEJM
> The NEJM recently (May 31) changed its access policies. See
> their website ( I haven't seen this mentioned in the
> forum yet.
> Peter A. Singer, MD, MPH, FRCPC
> Sun Life Chair in Bioethics and Director,
> University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics
> Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto
> Canadian Institutes of Health Research Investigator
> Associate Editor, Canadian Medical Association Journal
> e-mail:
> website:
> fax: 416-978-1911
> phone: 416-978-4756
> mail: 88 College St., Toronto ON Canada M5G-1L4

My reading of the NJEM's new policy

is that (like most other journals), they now have an enhanced online
edition and website (HighWire-Press-based, in this instance) for
subscribers. The news is that online full-texts are now available for
free to nonsubscribers too -- but only 6 months after publication.

This is certainly better than nothing, and a step in the right
direction, but it is also far too little, and far too late (just like
the AAAS's recently announced version of this same policy, which NEJM
now seems to be emulating):

But there is still no justification whatsoever for continuing to hold
new refereed research findings hostage to access tolls for even a
microsecond, let alone until they are no longer new. That is not how
scientific progress is furthered.

Nor do I see any change in the NEJM's infamous "Ingelfinger Rule,"
which states that the NJEM will neither referee nor publish submissions
if the author has previously self-archived the pre-refereeing
preprint online.

CETERUM CENSIO: The Ingelfinger Rule should be completely ignored by
all authors, who should always publicly self-archive their
pre-refereeing preprints; then, if the copyright transfer agreement,
upon acceptance of the refereed, revised postprint, unalterably
demands that authors sign away their online self-archiving rights for
that postprint, let authors sign it and link a "corrigenda"
file to the previously archived preprint file, listing
the changes that will conform the preprint to the postprint:

As I have already done two critiques of NEJM's policy, I invite the new
editor, Jeffery M. Drazen, to reply to these critiques, either in the
journal, or in this American Scientist Forum:

    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
    Journal of Medicine]

    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.

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 & 01):

You may join the list at the site above.

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Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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