Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Albert Henderson <chessNIC_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 18:25:25 -0400

On 5 Jun 2001 Tabah Albert <tabahan_at_EBSI.UMONTREAL.CA> wrote:
> I couldn't help answering a few of Albert Henderson's digs:
> > With the sole goal of getting free stuff you hold open the door for
> > quacks, cranks, and manufacturers' shills to mingle their garbage
> > with reports of good science. The general public (indeed many PhDs)
> > cannot distinguish between peer-reviewed articles, serious preprints,
> > and informercials made to look like research. Nor does the public
> > understand that science is a work in progress.
> There is one unannounced rule that, physicists at least, seem to be observing
> on the archives: "If you post, you want to be read. If you post junk, no one
> will read you again. So you better post good material." Is there better peer
> pressure than that? Sure you need peer review, but to correct mistakes or
> errors of judgment, more than to stop bogus claims. And the fact that a very
> high rate (some 70%) of preprints on LANL become journal articles supports this
> contention.

        Physicists live in the rarified atmostphere of differential
        equations. Those who are cranks turn to social science.
        As far as the rest of the world is concerned, nobody reads
        physics preprints or the refereed literature. I think that
        only one physics paper ever made it into the top 100 cited papers.
        With all due respect, physics is a very poor model for communications
        in the rest of science and scholarship for many reasons.

> > INGELFINGER RULE: Enforcing the Ingelfinger rule aims to assure the
> > public whatever degree of good science could be coerced by major
> > journals. ...
> There is no evdidence that the material posted in preprint archives does not
> represent good science. Quite the contrary.
> In the curent environment of rapid scientific communication, what the
> Ingelfinger rule does is punish those who wait for months until their material
> is published. Those who archive and post their preprints are read much faster
> and have a more immediate effect. (Look at Steve's Lawrence's piece on Nature's
> debates:
> In many fields such as physics waiting for months before you see your
> artcile in print means you become invisible, you get bypassed, and you don't
> get cited: You have no impact. If you want to be seen and to be read, you have
> to be in the thick of the action. The Ingelfinger rule prevents that.

        I said "hold the door open ..." If and when the world at large
        gets wind that all the latest science is free on the internet
        the horse will be out of the barn.

        Moreover, the misappropriated phrase "self-archived" suggests
        everlasting value. I find it misleading reference to preprints
        many of which will never be submitted to, much less survive,
        formal review.

> > Self-archiving is not making science information free. It is already
\> > free in libraries! If the libraries do their job, they not only make it
> > available but they provide professional guides who are able to assess
> > the readers and provide information that is appropriate.
> Who said libraries are not doing their job? Ever heard of budget constraints
> and being forced to cancel journals?

        Libraries cannot do their job without financial support. The
        budget constraints have contributed more to university
        profitability than to excellence in research and education.
        See the supplemental figures in the online version of my
        editorial for SCIENCE [Science. 289:243 July 14, 2000

        There is overwhelming evidence that university managers manufactured
        the library crisis in order to persuade the government to bail
        out science communications and absolve them of the burden of
        library spending. Just because the government bailed out the
        banks, Chrysler, Mexico, etc., doesn't mean they will put the
        richest universities in the world on welfare.

> > Obviously the reason the Ingelfinger question never materialized with
> > the LANL/XXX server is that differential equations, common in physics
> > and math, alienate most readers.
> No. It is because unless you post material of high quality you will be
> ridiculed and no one will take you seriously again. Physicists are pretty
> unforgiving on that account.

        see above.

> > My impression is that university managers don't care about quality.
> ! ?

        If university managers cared about excellence in research
        and education, they would have spent more money
        on their libraries and put less into financial assets.
        The latest version of ACRL standards for college libraries,
        for instance, demonstrates the indifference of librarians
        to quality. It removed all objective finite measures of
        quality that were in the prior release.

        Librarians who cared have either taken stronger positions
        against impoverishment of their libraries and flaccid
        standards. Or, they have gone into industry where researchers
        who need information fare better than faculty senates.

Best wishes,

Albert Henderson

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

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