Re: Self-Archiving Refereed Research vs. Self-Publishing Unrefereed Research

From: Arthur Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 03:46:47 -0400

Stevan Harnad wrote:
> On Fri, 10 Aug 2001, Arthur Smith wrote:
> [...]
> > My
> > belief is that it is important that that responsibility be transferred
> > as far as it can be, from authors to more stable and identifiable
> > entities, so that the end-users of that information have a source for
> > whom they have a certain relationship of trust.
> There is such an entity, and it is called a peer-reviewed journal,
> just as it always was.

I often get the feeling we're talking past one another and not really
understanding what the other is getting at. Stevan, your posts tend to
be long, and I sometimes don't find it very rewarding to read through
them in detail. Some of mine have been long too, and perhaps tiresome to
read. I'll try to be clearer and more concise in this post. Anyway,
possibly we've missed something in our communication here. But this
statement looked to me like an endorsement of the peer-reviewed journal
as the entity responsible for distribution of articles. You agree with
that, even if the journal uses S/L/P methods to recoup its costs?

> [...]

And then you say again:

> To repeat, the free self-archived version is a supplement to, not a
> substitute for, on-paper/on-line publication in the refereed journal it
> appeared in.

which sounds like the same thing in other words? I think I would fully
agree with both these statements anyway.

> I regret that I cannot even pretend to take any of these strained
> examples seriously as anything but special pleading in favor of the
> status quo, which is to continue to hold refereed research hostage to
> access-tolls, under any and every conceivable pretext!

No, that's not my point at all. The question I have in mind is, what
will motivate authors to self-archive their research papers, when
researchers are always pressed for time? Of course they can always be
forced to do it, by their institutions as some of the University
provosts seem to have in mind. But the standard argument has always been
that self-archiving will expand the readership of articles to the many
who can't afford journals. So the question becomes secondarily, what
will motivate "the many" who may not be able to afford journals to make
active use of free author self-archives? And thirdly, will those
so-motivated actually be among the group that the original authors are
really interested in reaching? There's a self-consistency problem here
that goes back to the heart of what the original authors want - somehow
the current journal system in most fields seems to meet those wants
pretty well, however that happens. Those fields where the needs are not
met so well may be the ones that have rushed to self-archiving. But in
the others, it seems the key issues of context and transfer of
responsibility are what the (1) authors are seeking, since that is what
the (3) important audience is (2) actively reading. And the prediction
is there will be no rush to self-archiving in these fields where the
journals meet author needs.

Maybe the dynamic will change so that journals no longer work so well in
these fields; on the other hand, it seems things could go in the other
direction as well. The nlin-sys listings at seem to have
dropped slightly from a peak in 1999, the hep-lat listings seem to have
peaked in 1998. Perhaps those are simply due to declining activity in
those fields though... But it seems to me that universal author
self-archiving is not inevitable - mainly because in many fields it is
simply not wanted.

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

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