Re: STM Talk: Open Access by Peaceful Evolution

From: Jean-Claude Guédon <>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 19:57:55 -0500

Le 24 Février 2003 10:50, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
>On Mon, 24 Feb 2003, Jean-Claude Guédon wrote:
>h> The lament cannot be read as a collective macro-statement
>h> by all libraries, because "we" and "our" completely lose their sense if
>h> construed collectively. Yes, there is a collective resolution to this
>h> anomaly, but it is the institutional self-archiving of each institution's
>h> own refereed research output:
> >
>G> Why do "we" and "our" completely lose their sense? I do not understand
>G> your objection.
> For the very same reason that it does not make sense for books:
> Libraries are not buying back their own institutional book output, they
> are buying in the book output of other institutions.

Actually, they are buying both.

> It does not help to
> say "collectively, we are buying back our own collective output," for
> this completely conflates who is producer and who is consumer in each
> particular case (and this is without even mentioning that it is the
> authors who are doing the producing and that books are not author
> give-aways). One might as well say, of the stock-market, that "we are
> all buying back our own stocks." No, there are buyers and sellers; there
> is no collective "we" that is both the giver and the receiver.

In this case, the comparison with the stock market does not make sense. Stocks
are not direct products of companies and people who buy stocks are not all
companies, far from it.

Collectively, the universities and research centres produce the literature
published in refereed journals (forget about books as I am not dealing with
that category of literature). And the same institutions buy some of the
articles that some among them have produced. They are buying collectively
what they have given away collectively.

> But the main error in putting it in this way is of course with refereed
> research; for whereas books are not an author give-away, refereed
> research is. That still does not change the fact that the buy-in, from
> an institution's point of view, is not a buy-back of its *own* give-away
> research output, but a buy-in of *other* institutions' give-away
> research output.

The give-away is access. Refereed research seeks to be placed in free access.
Librarians create the illusion of free access by supporting the whole
structure financially. So, if the give-away is access, why should we give
away copyrights? Copyright and access are entirely different and I have
treated those two entities as completely diffrent from the very beginning.

> And the remedy for this is also quite clear, and does not lie with the
> publishers, who cannot be expected to do it for us. If, unlike books,
> refereed research output is indeed an author/institution give-away,
> written only for maximal research impact, let the author/institutions
> take the natural step to remedy the problem of access-denial for those
> potential users whose institutions cannot afford the access-tolls,
> according to the Golden Rule: "Self-Archive Unto Others As Ye Would Have
> Them Self-Archive Unto You." It is *here* the the "we" is indeed a
> collective one, not in the economics of library serial acquisitions.

It can also lie with the publshers. Biomed Central is a good example of free

>G> My response is that researchers should give away *access* to
>G> their publication (i.e. for free) to their colleagues, retain their
>G> copyright and give or - why not - sell their texts (non exclusively)
>G> to commercial interest if they feel it can enhance the visibility
>G> of their ware.
> At the present moment, if researchers want their papers to be
> peer-reviewed and certified as such by an established journal with a name
> and track-record -- as virtually all researchers do -- they must (and
> should) submit it to a refereed journal. Anything predicated on their
> doing something *other* than that is not only unrealistic, but probably
> not good advice to give to researchers! Most refereed journals today
> are still toll-access journals. So that would be the end of the story,
> insofar as open access is concerned, wherever no suitable open-access
> refereed journal like BMC exists -- if it were not for the self-archiving
> option, which is intended as a *supplement* to -- not a *substitute*
> for -- publishing in the refereed journals. (Open-access, let us not
> keep forgetting, is about open access to *refereed* research -- not to
> unrefereed research, later to be sold on some hypothetical market!)

True, but then, tell me a reason why an individual should want to go the next
step and do the self-archiving. This is still viewed as unusual ad, as I
pointed out in earlier messages, when journals refuse the self-archiving, the
legal status of your strategy is in question at best. In other words, at this
moment, in most cases, self-archiving is a risky proposition both in terms of
its legality and in terms of its efficacy.

> So, we agree on open-access. I think we agree on peer-review. We
> disagree on the *necessity* of copyright retention (though we agree on
> its desirability). Self-archiving is a tried, tested and proven road
> to immediate open-access. That is undeniable. My only point was that
> this is entirely in the hands of the research community, not the library
> community, nor the publisher community. (And the "we give it away and
> buy it back" dictum, though related to the problem and its solution,
> fails to capture the underlying causal dynamics.)

Self-archiving is not a tried, tested and proven road to immediate
open-access. It still depends on disciplinary circumstances (e.g. the
favourable circumstances of high-energy physics), on institution behaviour
(especially when it comes to evaluation procedures) and on the degree of
enlightenment, if it may be described as such, of journal editors. So, while
the research community must obviously be engaged, institutions and publishers
must also face the issues squarely and react positively. And in all of this,
librarians are extremely precious allies.

>G> That more and more journals are responding more positively to the idea of
>G> self-archiving is true; it may well be part of their fear of alienating
>G> researchers too much.
> Maybe, but I see no reason to look at it so uncharitably. I don't think
> journal publishers are villains. I think they, as much as authors, are
> victims of the paper-centred system they have inherited. Right now, this
> paper-centred system has been quite remunerative for some (but by no
> means all, or even most) refereed journal publishers. But the online age
> has changed things radically, and the new possibilities are only now being
> realized. For researchers, one new possibility -- maximising the impact
> of their research output by self-archiving it -- is immediate, and has
> already been enjoyed by tens of thousands of authors of preprints and
> postprints of refereed research publications. For publishers, there have
> not yet been any consequences, and it is conceivable (though unlikely)
> that there never will be, with the toll-access versions continuing to
> be used by the researchers at the institutions that can afford it, and
> the self-archived open-access versions used by the researchers at the
> institutions that cannot afford the tolls. Or there may be a gradual
> downsizing of refereed journal publication to only the essentials
> (mainly peer review implementation) with the paper and composition
> jettisoned and all distribution, archiving, and access-provision offloaded
> onto the institutional eprint archive network.

Uncharitably? :-))) And obviously, I do not treat all publishers in the same
way. Some are doing commendable and even wonderful work, and they are not
making much money out of it, that is sure. Others, well, that is an entirely
different question. The problem is that the others are among the biggest
publishers, and, as such, they have the means to skew the whole process of
scientific communication in very deleterious directions.

As for your historicalscenario, well it shows that you are not a historian...
:-) Can you imagine a multi-billion company reading what you just wrote and,
with a tear in its corporate eye, goes to lay a wreath on the tombs of
exhausted ambitions? Ask Derk Hank how he would react to your scenario... :-)

> So the reason more and more refereed journal publishers are supporting
> self-archiving, despite the element of risk for them, is that it is so
> obviously beneficial to research and researchers.

My, my! These publisher folks are the kindest, most generous people I've ever
seen. :-))) Stevan, for Pete's sake... But there again, I would distinguish
between truly learned associations and commercial publishers or even
professional associations.

>G> But when they do not, the fear of scholars is real, the
>G> self-censorhip also. And, moreover, in many countries, your idea of
>G> self-archiving the pre-refereed version plus the corrigenda would not
>G> hold in court, so far as I understand copyright and authors' rights, plus
>G> Bern, etc.
> Intuitions differ on this question, but here are the facts: Since the
> early 90's, hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed papers have been
> self-archived without a single court challenge. Moreover, talk of a
> "court challenge" is rather alarmist, as what would really happen,
> if anything ever did, would merely be that an author receives a
> notice from the legal department of the journal requesting that he
> remove a particular self-archived article. At that point the author would
> have the choice of complying with the request and removing the file in
> question. That is all that is at issue. And it has not even happened once
> in ten years of growing self-archiving -- nor is it likely to happen,
> for during that decade publisher support for self-archiving was likewise
> growing, because of its obvious benefits to research and researchers.

Anyone can confirm what Stevan claims? I believe there were some stiff
standoffs between Paul Ginsparg and some publishers and it is through real
threats that no action was taken. In any case, I was locating myself squarely
on the ground of copyright or authors' rights laws and plagiarism is not
allowed under either kind of system.

But it would be interesting to document what kinds of reactions, if any, have
occurred in response to self-archiving.

And if the benefits to research are so obvious, and if publishers are so nice
because of this realization, why are some (quite a few actually) still
holding out on this issue?

> It is also a fact that despite a decade of (1) growing self-archiving,
> and (2) growing publisher support for self-archiving, and (3) no authors
> asked to remove self-archived papers -- I doubt the number is zero,
> but it is clearly vanishingly small: have you even heard of a single
> case? Please don't reply with cases other than the self-archiving of
> refereed research! -- there are nevertheless many researchers whose
> self-archiving is inhibited by groundless legal worries:

Groundless? From a legal standpoint it is not groundless. From a practical
standpoint, a questions arises. You ask me for an empirical demonstration of
X and I ask you the same of ~X. Here, empirical research is really needed
because, if you are right, then you could prove it is groundless.

> My question to you, Jean-Claude, is this: In view of the empirical
> evidence to date, is it our role to amplify these groundless worries, by
> adding our own speculations about hypothetical "court challenges"? Or
> should we be encouraging the growing numbers of self-archivers to grow
> further?

You and know both know the aswer to this rhetorical question. My response is :
when I try to get to the bottom of an issue, am I "amplifying" "groundless"
worries? This comes dangerously close to saying : stop your nonsense and get
on with the real issues... :-)

>G> Plagiarism rules will most certainly apply and they too are part of the
>G> legal equation.
> Plagiarism is completely irrelevant to the self-archiving of refereed
> research!

Not in the case of an article published in a refereed journal with transfer of
copyright and a journal policy against self-archiving. If you put your
article in its pre-refereed fortm, there is presumably enough resemblance
between that and the printed version to allow the publisher to run after you
for plagiarism. I suspect that if self-archiving were ever to be seen as an
effective threat, this argument would quickly pop up. Presently, publishers
simply calculate that it is better to lie low and avoid open conflict. Part
of their present economic privileges stem from scholars' real or feigned
ignorance of the realities of scholarly publishing. If some publishers are
nice to guys ike you, this is probably because guys like me give them the
feeling that the temperature is rising among researchers.

> "1.3. Distinguish between copyright protection from
> theft-of-authorship (plagiarism) and copyright protection from
> theft-of-text (piracy)"
>G> In any case, so long as you do not have a clear court case in hand
>G> in a significant country, preferably the US, your argument remains
>G> largely moot. I would love to believe it; I simply find myself unable to
>G> although I am sympathetic to our common cause (more than sympathetic,
>G> actually, as you well know) and wish it were true.
> I do not understand your logic. Hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed
> papers have been self-archived, their number is growing, the number of
> publishers supporting self-archiving is growing (half the journals covered
> by the Romeo Table above already support it), and you are unsure until
> and unless there is a court case? (The "preprints+corrigenda strategy"
> is meant as a reductio ad absurdum for the hesitant, not as a hypothesis
> about future legal contingencies!)

As you know, in logic, saying that black swans do not exist simply on the
basis of having seen only hundreds of thousands of white swans does not work.
I must confess being mystified by your logic.

> Is that meant to be your advice to the self-archivers and would-be
> self-archivers: "Wait for a court challenge?" I suggest that that would
> be very bad advice! And if that is not meant to be your advice to
> self-archivers, then why are we even discussing it here, rather than
> ways to accelerate the volume and rate of self-archiving?

I am saying that if there is no groundswell of self-archivers, it is for a
number of reasons among which are the legal uncertainties surrounding your
strategy. You might call it ignorance, fear, whatever. You might even
consider this as a sign of weak thinking on the part of these people,
although... but it does not change the fact. There is no groundswell as of
now, only some experiments in some disciplines that are encouraging, but
nothing more, alas.

>G> OAIster, so far as I know, has not published any statistics on the status
>G> or age of the contributors.
> But Dear Jean-Claude, neither have you! On whom is the burden to show
> that "1,093,169 records from 144 institutions" are primarily from
> oldsters: Oaister's or yours, as you are the one who claims it is so!

You are the one who claimed that this collection harboured vulnerable
researchers, not I. You obviously said to yourself : the number is so large
that many are young and vulnerable. But Oaister does even guarantee that the
resources listed are exclusively made up of refereed materials. Here is how
they describe themselves:

"OAIster is a project of the University of Michigan Digital Library Production
Services, originally funded through a Mellon grant (see the final report).
Our goal is to create a collection of freely available, difficult-to-access,
academically-oriented digital resources (what are digital resources?) that
are easily searchable by anyone."

Note in passing that if one of their targets are difficult-to-access
resources, presumably, they are not in core, refereed, journals.

>G> On the other hand, remember that if PLOS came to nought in its first
>G> incarnation, it was, I believe, largely because young scientists,
>G> despite all their anger, could not face taking so many risks.
> I agree that the PLOS signatories' threat to publishers not to publish
> in their journals unless they become open-access journals was a rather
> quixotic one (though I would still like to see your age statistics!).
> But it only confirms that the publishers are not the right target. The
> research community should target *itself* if it wants open access to its
> refereed research output, and that is precisely what the growing numbers
> of self-archivers are doing. Open-access journals are welcome too, but
> whereas open-access to all 2,000,000 annual articles in the planet's
> 20,000 refereed journals could come virtually overnight through
> self-archiving, it would take considerably more nights to create or
> convert 20,000 open-access journals. Petition signatories cannot do the
> latter either; but they can certainly do the former.

Incidentally, about 20 000 journals, Alice Lefler Primack, in Journal
Literature of the Physical Sciences: A Manual (Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow
Press, 1992), states that in 1990, about 90,000 journals that specialize in
some areas of science. The number has grown since by a fair percentage. You
will object that they are not all refereed, but, following yur lead, I will
ask you to prove that... :-)

>G> Everyone agrees that the physics community (and not even all of physics
>G> - high energy began earlier than dense matter, for example, for reasons
>G> that, incidentally, I have never seen explained in the literature -
>G> anyone knows otherwise? ) does not quite behave like most other
>G> disciplines.
> Yes, they will get historic credit for having been the first to discover
> the benefits of self-archiving. But those benefits (maximized research
> visibility, accessibility, and impact) are certainly in no way unique or
> peculiar to physics! Physicists simply realized it earlier.

Hmmmm... just by chance? like that? hmmmmmmmm... I will have to try that one
in a historical article some day and see how my referees react... Of course,
if I quote you... :-)))

>G> Mathematicians and astronomers follow suit; molecular biologists and
>G> chemists don't. In physics, not only are papers multi-authored (which
>G> happens also in many other disciplines), papers are vetted through
>G> intense lab discussions (which also happen in several disciplines)
>G> and research instruments are often so very rare and costly (which is
>G> found in a few other disciplines such as oceanography and astronomy)
>G> that performing the experiment ensures ownership of the terrain for a
>G> little while. It happens that physics has all three characteristics.
>G> Why should mathematicians should behave as they do remains a little
>G> unclear to me.
> Future historians will no doubt analyze the time-course of the growth of
> self-archiving and open access. Your hypotheses are interesting (though
> at least one of them is certainly wrong: the leaders were not and are
> not the experimentalists, but the theorists in physics; experimental
> physics still lags behind), though they seem to focus a little too much
> on the self-archiving of pre-refereeing preprints, whereas the real
> target is the refereed postprints, on which the above seems to have
> little bearing. In addition, your hypotheses now have to be extended to
> cover computer science, with 500,000 self-archived papers harvested by
> ResearchIndex.

That is another issue: between self-archiving as you understand it and
pre-prints, there is a difference that you have (rightly) insisted upon in
the past. Why does it not mater so much now?

> What ResearchIndex demonstrated was that centralized,
> discipline-specific archives like the Physics ArXiv are by now merely
> the visible (because centralized) tip of the iceberg, and that
> self-archiving has been growing anarchically and dramatically
> on researchers' own websites in many (probably all) other
> disciplines. OAister's "1,093,169 records from 144 institutions" -- not
> just the 200,000 from the Physics ArXiv -- are further evidence for this
> (though not all of OAIster is refereed research preprints and postprints).

This I agree with, but we are still far from real self-archiving as you define

> The fine-grained analysis will come from the historians and
> cybermetricians.

So much work... :-)

>G> This said, if all journals unambiguously agreed that self-archiving is
>G> fine and solemnly declared that it in no way affects publishing in the
>G> corresponding journals, then I might begin to agree with you. We are far
>G> from that. You, yourself, are spending a fair amount of time trying to
>G> clarify issues with publishers, such as Nature, most recently. In effect,
>G> you are trying to clear the way to help convince the hesitating lot to
>G> move ahead. But if they hesitate, it is not just because they do not see
>G> things clearly (or your way), it is because they face real obstacles,
>G> locally or nationally.
> I and others are trying to help accelerate self-archiving by clearing
> away the obstacles (mostly imaginary) that are slowing those who do not
> yet self-archive. If the growing number of self-archivers in the
> past decade, or the physicists who first realized its feasibility and
> potential, had instead waited till "all journals unambiguously agreed
> that self-archiving is fine and solemnly declared that", then a lot of
> research progress would have been lost.

Agreed except for one thing: the obstacles are not mostly imaginary. Reread
Macchiavelli on the difficulties of change...

> We are indeed "trying to clear the way to help convince the hesitating
> lot to move ahead," and worry about legality is only one of the many
> groundless worries that we must work to remedy: There are at least 25
> more! See the "I-worry-about..." FAQs at:

I know that one... :-)

> 1. Preservation:
> 2. Authentication:
> 3. Corruption:
> 4. Navigation (info-glut):
> 5. Certification:
> 6. Evaluation:
> 7. Peer review:
> 8. Paying the piper:
> 9. Downsizing:
> 10. Copyright:
> 11. Plagiarism:
> 12. Priority:
> 13. Censorship:
> 14. Capitalism:
> 15. Readability:
> 16. Graphics:
> 17. Publishers' future:
> 18. Libraries'/Librarians' future:
> 19. Learned Societies'
> future: 20. University
> conspiracy: 21. Serendipity:
> 22. Tenure/Promotion:
> 23. Version control:
> 24. Napster:
> 25. Mark-up:
> 26. Classification:
>h> I am afraid I have to repeat that this is not at all relevant to what
>h> it is that I am talking about. Let editors/gatekeepers keep doing
>h> whatever they are doing; we are not talking about that. We are talking
>h> about providing open access to the outcome of their gate-keeping system
>h> by self-archiving. (We must not confuse gate-keeping with the toll-gating!)
>G> The point is that locally influential scientists that have advantages
>G> of all kinds in being gatekeepers and remaining in that position
>G> will or at least can use that power to influence younger, more
>G> vulnerable colleagues.
> Influence them to do what, insofar as self-archiving is concerned?

For example that this may not be the best way to get tenured, or that t may
not be the best way to get accepted in the best journals, etc.

>G> For that reason, the scientific community is
>G> divided. I tried to say that, roughly, it was divided between the
>G> powerful cynics, the vulnerable and the idealists. If you say that
>G> this bears in no way on the problem, it confirms my suspicion that
>G> you want reality to bend to your (superb) logic, rather than the
>G> other way around.
> No, it is genuine befuddlement! I haven't any idea what the causal link
> is between editors/gatekeepers, their undeniable influence on the young
> (who submit to their journal) and self-archiving: Is this merely a
> repetition of the publisher/legality worry, but this time substituting
> the journal's editor for the journal's publisher as the villain?

???? If you accept the possibility of some undeniable influence of gatekeepers
on young researchers, and if this gatekeeper does not see self-archiving with
kind eyes, then what of your rhetorical befuddlement?

>h> What do tenure/promoting mechanisms etc. have to do with the virtue of
>h> self-archiving one's own refereed research output -- apart from the
>h> fact that they will certainly reward the additional research impact
>h> self-archiving brings?
> >G> They certainly won't "certainly reward the additional research impact
> >G> self-archiving brings". What allows you to assert this thesis with such
> >G> assurance?
> I am so happy you asked me that! I can assert it with such assurance
> because it is a tautology: They *already* reward the magnitude of
> research impact, hence, whatever *increases* the magnitude of research
> impact will merely draw upon that already existing contingency!

But that assumes the problem already solved in those peoples' minds... You are
working in a time warp, I am afraid.

>G> my feeling is that open-access, including with
>G> self-archiving, is not going to proceed well so long as a significant
>G> fraction of researchers actively support the existing system at the
>G> exclusion of all others. I have met the enemy and it is part of us to
>G> paraphrase a well-known Pogo quip. This is why I pursue such
>G> "distracting" battles. This said, I value your clear vision as it often
>G> helps me choose my battles, but I have come to the conclusion that I must
>G> wage a few more than you.
> The enemy is not the publishers, not peer-review, not the
> tenure/promotion system, not copyright law: The enemy is just the
> slowness of the research community in realizing and utilizing
> the new possibility opened up for them by the online medium; but
> the tempo is picking up, so let us not be so pessimistic!

But why is the research community so slow? Why is the tempo picking up?

>G> scholarly publishing is not a
>G> logical game and logic only takes you so far. Then comes the messy world
>G> of alliances, politics, battles and tactics.
> The only battle I want to fight is the one to make the token drop in
> researchers' heads. Logic may not be enough, but it's sure better to
> have it on our side rather than elsewhere!

Indeed, but logic without some common sense and wisdom may amount to fantasy.

>h> it was a librarian, Ann Okerson, who first gave me the idea (which
>h> I at first rejected as an impossible, indeed unrealistic dream)
>h> of open access when I was still obsessed merely with online access!
>G> We fully agree on open-access, but have you considered the possibility
>G> that you are a little obsessed again, this time by self-archiving? :-)
> But online-access (the old obsession) *did* prevail, completely! So now it
> is time for open-access to prevail. I recognise and value the second
> road too (BOAI-2, creating and converting open-access journals), but I
> am pretty certain that BOAI-1, self-archiving, is the faster road
> (despite Pogo's sluggishness!). And I am also pretty sure that
> shadow-boxing with publishers is no road at all.

OK Suit yourself!

>G> I know you think BOAI-1 better than 2 precisely because of the
>G> sociological homogeneity (just researchers) that you ascribe to it; my
>G> objection is simply that even BOAI-1 cannot escape the messy world of a
>G> complex technical system involving a good many varied actors, such as
>G> researchers, of course, but also peers in all colours and stripes
>G> (tenure, granting agencies, publishing, etc...), administrators,
>G> librarians and, of course, publishers, also of all colours ands stripes.
>G> In short, where you argue for logical clarity of vision (and again, this
>G> is very useful, in my opinion: I know you have helped me in this regard),
>G> I argue for that plus sociological and historical
>G> sophistication.
> But most of those other actors (apart from tenure/promotion/funding
> mechanisms, which are implicitly with us, because they are
> research-impact-driven) are simply not relevant. Immediate open-access
> through self-archiving is a matter that is completely within the hands
> of the research community, exactly as it has been for all those
> researchers who have self-archived already.

implicitly indeed... :-))) and... explicitly? Come, come, my friend.

>h> OAIster reports "1,089,937 records from 142 institutions" but that is an
>h> overestimate, because some of their records are not full-text and many
>h> are not refereed research. But there is at least Arxiv (200,000),
>h> plus CogPrints and the other Eprints Archives (19,000).
>h> Then there is ResearchIndex, not yet OAI-compliant, and not all refereed
>h> research either, but 500,000 and the "gray
>h> iceberg" consisting of the hundreds of thousands of refereed papers that
>h> have been self-archived on authors' own websites (but not yet countable and
>h> searchable because not yet OAI-compliant).
>G> You have no proof that, in the archives you mention, the
>G> representation of young professors and researchers is adequate;
>G> neither do you anything about their working environment and
>G> circumstances. In other words, your statistics are too macro to
>G> lend themselves to a useful interpretation.
> I think the burden of proof that there is something *anomalous* about
> those who have self-archived so far is on those who wish to claim that
> is the case, not on those who do not make that claim, and point out
> instead that maximizing research impact by maximizing research access is
> is a value that would (and will) be sought by *every* researcher, in every
> discipline, once it is known and understood.

See above...

> Amitiés
> Stevan Harnad

Indeed. This is great fun...

Jean-Claude Guédon
Littérature comparée, Université de Montréal
Tél. : 1-514-343-6208
Fax : 1-514-343-2211
Received on Tue Feb 25 2003 - 00:57:55 GMT

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