Re: Open Letter to Philip Campbell, Editor, Nature

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 18:22:31 +0000

On Thu, 27 Feb 2003, Mark Doyle [American Physical Society] wrote:

> Just wondering, Stevan, if you ever got a response from Nature to your
> open letter. I don't want to open the whole thing up for debate again,
> but I am curious if this was ever clarified by Nature to your
> satisfaction.

Dear Mark,

Here are some updates (latest one from today)

In brief, Nature is still working on clarifying both their concepts
and the language in which they are formulated. I am still 100%
optimistic, and Nature is still listed in green, on the side of
the angels, in the Publisher-Policy Table at the Romeo Project:

As expected, their legal team are concerned with not using language that
can be construed as authorizing re-publication by anyone else, which is
fine. I will probably meet with them in May in London and will suggest
some language, as well as correcting any misconceptions they may have
about nonexistent differences between "open website," "personal website"
etc. as well as about servers, disc sectors, metadata and metadata
harvesting, etc.

The present formal language of the license is in fact just fine. (The
problem only came up from their incoherent replies to informal queries
and FAQs about the meanings of some of the terms in the formal license.)

For the pre-refereeing preprint:

    "Nature does not wish to hinder communication between scientists. For
    that reason, different embargo guidelines apply to work that has
    been discussed at a conference or displayed on a preprint server
    and picked up by the media as a result. (Neither conferences nor
    preprint servers constitute prior publication.)

    "Our guidelines for authors and potential authors in such circumstances
    are clear-cut in principle: communicate with other researchers as much
    as you wish, but do not encourage premature publication by discussion
    with the press (beyond your formal presentation, if at a conference)."

For the refereed postprint:

    [The Author retains the right] To post a copy of the Contribution on
    the Authors' own web site after publication of the printed edition
    of the Journal, provided that they also give a hyperlink from the
    Contribution to the Journal's web site.

I think there is no bad faith at all, just incomplete understanding of
the online medium.

Cheers, Stevan

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 11:04:00 -0000
From: Philip Campbell <>

Stevan - I am just back from travel abroad. Either I or a publishing
colleague will get back to you before long.

Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 10:39:25 -0000
From: Marks Jayne <>


This is proving to be a much more complex issue than we had first thought
and some new perspectives on this were raised at a meeting that some
of my colleagues attended on Wednesday. I would therefore like to take
some more time to think through our options rather than jumping to a quick
conclusion either way on this issue. I am sorry that you have had to wait
so long for our reply but I want to make sure that this is considered.
I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 13:11:00 +0000 (GMT)
From: Marks Jayne <>

Thanks for being so patient on this issue. We have had extensive
discussions internally and have been looking into the issues in a lot
of depth. For the time being we would like our statements on our author
licence to stand as they are but we would be very keen to discuss some
of these issues with you so that we can be better informed and so that
we can discuss some of our concerns which may be unfounded...
So I would like to invite you to visit our offices in London. We
thought perhaps a round table discussion...
Received on Thu Feb 27 2003 - 18:22:31 GMT

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