Re: Responses to Walt Crawford's reflections on FOS

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 19:40:23 +0100 (BST)

On Tue, 2 Jul 2002, Peter Suber wrote:

> In the July issue of _Cites & Insights_, Walt Crawford devotes his opening
> essay to reflections on the FOS movement.
> Walt Crawford writes:
> >If, after you read these articles [by Suber and Young], you're satisfied
> >that your Grand Solution works for the future, keeps scholarship healthy,
> >keeps previous resources available and libraries healthy, supports
> >indexing and abstracting, and has a solid chance of success -- well, then, I
> >wish you well.

For a "Grand Solution" there has to be a "Grand Problem." Here's one
(and the only one I, for one, am addressing):

Problem: The peer-reviewed journal literature, written by and for
researchers for free, is not accessible online for free, at the cost
of considerable potential usage and research impact.

Solution: Researchers should free their own peer-reviewed research
output by self-archiving it in their own institutional OAI-compliant
Eprint archives.

Scholarship health? It is peer review that keeps and has always kept
this literature healthy. No change in peer review proposed.

Library health? Libraries do many things besides buy and offer
peer-reviewed journals for users, but inasmuch as they do that,
open access will save them time and money for other things.

Previous sources available? Self-archiving is for present and future
peer-reviewed research in the first instance. At worst, access to back
issues will be no worse than it is now. At best, some or all of that can
be scanned in and self-archived too.

Indexing and abstracting? Of course. Have a look at:

Texts other than peer-reviewed articles? Nolo contendere.

Slow progress? Researchers and their institutions are to blame, for
being so slow to realize what the optimal and inevitable solution is,
and just going ahead and doing it. They will realize it, sooner or
later. But glib nay-saying like Walt's will get some of the historic
credit for having helped to make it a little later rather than sooner.

Walt doesn't like the expression "optimal/inevitable." Duly noted. Now
let's see how things turn out...

> Walt criticizes Stevan Harnad: "[H]is proposed network of archival
> repositories makes sense *as part* of the scholarly system --and it's also
> (I think) a key part of FOS.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is explicitly about freeing
access to the peer-reviewed literature via two strategies: BOAI Strategy
1, self-archiving, and BOAI Strategy 2, creating/converting open-access
journals. Hence, yes, S1 is part, not all of BOAI.

FOS is not concerned only with freeing the peer-reviewed literature,
but with freeing as much of the scholarly literature as possible. BOAI
S1 is a fortiori only a part of FOS.

I agree completely with Peter's reply on my behalf, below:

> Stevan can speak for himself; but as I read him, he agrees with
> this. Self-archiving is only part of the solution and must be complemented
> by journals. It's not self-sufficient because it doesn't include peer
> review. Self-archiving is the component of the solution that provides
> immediate open access to new work, and that doesn't depend on the (slow)
> adoption of new funding models by journals. It's the component of the
> solution that doesn't depend on anyone but the author and to some extent
> the author's institution. But it needs another component to provide peer
> review, and Steven is emphatic that peer review must be part of any
> complete solution.

See also:

4.2 Hypothetical Sequel:

Stevan Harnad

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):

Discussion can be posted to:

See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

and the Free Online Scholarship Movement:
Received on Tue Jul 02 2002 - 19:40:23 BST

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