Self-archiving and publishing are currently orthogonal

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 10:58:37 +0000

On Thu, 31 Oct 2002, Richard Poynder wrote:

> I have an associated question: does anyone have any figures, or at least
> an educated guess, as to how the self-archived papers break down by
> subject area?

The same archives I cited in the prior posting have subject
breakdowns. They can (and should) be harvested and tallied, especially
to look at trends across time, which are currently changing.

> In particular, is there perhaps an over-representation of
> scientific and technical papers as compared with medical (if one can
> make that distinction).

There is an over-representation of Physics (and some Maths) compared to
all other fields, scientific, technical, and medical, simply because
the Physicists started first and went the furthest. The breakdown,
however, is definitely not sci-tech (high) vs biomed (low), because
there are many sci-tech disciplines (notable chemistry) that are not
only low, but super-low.

> I ask because I am curious as to whether the
> Wolters Kluwer decision to sell Wolters Kluwer Academic Publishing
> (scientific and technical) but retain their medical business (especially
> Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins), and indeed invest more in their Health
> division, is in any way related to self-archiving trends. Some have
> speculated that their decision to sell was partly influenced by self
> archiving, but this is just speculation at present (and I have as yet
> not managed to speak to anyone at the company).

I think the speculation is incorrect, and that the data contradict it.
It should be Physics journals that are in trouble or being sold, if
self-archiving were a significant factor in such things, but that is
not happening at all.

It is not that self-archiving may not eventually influence journals to
downsize to the essentials, phase out paper, and convert to open-access,
providing peer-review and certification paid for as a service for outgoing
institutional research output, rather than a product that is bought
in through access tolls. But there is no sign of that yet. First
self-archiving itself must grow and generalize across disciplines;
and even then, it will probably be a while before the ubiquity of open
access weans institutions, first from paper and then from the online
access-tolls prevailing today.

In other words, self-archiving is largely orthogonal to the journal
business today, and probably will remain so for some time. Researchers
and their institutions should focus on doing their own part to hasten
the optimal and inevitable, by self-archiving, rather than watching
business trends in journal publishing. What we need urgently is open
access, so as to maximize the visibility, accessibility, useage, citation,
assessability and impact of our research output -- hence maximize research
productivity itself. The economics and business models can sort themselves
out at their own tempo.

> Nevertheless, the
> question arises: does WK's decision to sell scientific and technical but
> retain medical suggest that there are some impediments to self-archiving
> medical papers (be it only greater reluctance for researchers in those
> areas to self-archive). I guess a similar sort of question arises over
> the decision to sell the BertelsmannSpringer business: does it publish
> in areas most threatened by self-archiving?

I would love to see the actual quantitative data on this, by
discipline and across time, but from what I have seen so far,
biomedical research is neither at the top nor at the bottom in
self-archiving, amongst disciplines.

Stevan Harnad

> Any thoughts/facts appreciated.
> Richard Poynder
> Freelance Journalist
> Phone: + 44 (0)191-386-0072
> Mobile: 0793-202-4032
> E-mail:
> Web:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: September 1998 American Scientist Forum
> Simon
> Sent: 30 October 2002 18:55
> Subject: How many papers are there in the OAI-compliant archives?
> Hi,
> I am new to this list and please forgive me if my question has a well
> known answer.
> I would like to interest some people (and some Institutions too) in
> Brazil to start self-archiving their work. It would be helpful to have
> some statistics about the dimensions of the OAI-compliant archives and
> at what rate are they growing? What is the proportion of the papers
> whose full text is also available?
> Do these statistics exist, and where are they? So far I couldn't find
> them.
> In case they do not exist, what would be the most interesting numbers
> to measure? Don't you think that it would be wise to document the
> evolution of the dimensions of the OAI-compliant library while
> everybody is sweating to climb the mountain?
> Thanks in advance,
> Imre Simon
Received on Thu Oct 31 2002 - 10:58:37 GMT

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