Re: Open Archives and UK Institutions: An Overview

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 19:38:48 +0000

On Thu, 27 Mar 2003, Lars Aronsson wrote:

>la>> [could one create a GNU-like license for one's research that]
>la>> prohibits its results from being quoted or used in non-open archives?
>sh> You can set any rules you like. Getting them obeyed is another matter.
>sh> But why on earth would a researcher, writing for research impact, want
>sh> to make an arbitrary and counterproductive rule like that in the
>sh> first place?
> Researchers should want to have open access to any works that cite
> their work or continue research in the same direction. Having to pay
> or jump through hoops for that access is an obstacle to their own
> work.

But blocking the use of one's research output in toll-access journals
would be far worse even than the toll-access blockage that exists now!
There are 20,000 refereed journals, at least 19,000 of them toll access,
hence inaccessible to users at institutions that cannot afford the
tolls.) Open access is about blocked users gaining access to the contents
of those 19,000+ toll-access journals, thereby unblocking the impact
their usage would bring to the research. Your proposal would simply block
(needlessly, arbitrarily) a lot more research impact than is already
being blocked because of access tolls. Yet maximizing research impact is
the researcher's main motivation for creating open-access to his research.

I am afraid you have the priorities backwards.

> Such a license, if enforcable and embraced by a core of
> leading researchers, could help coerce the entire research
> community within a field towards open access publishing.

But first you'd have to find a way to coerce the research community into
adopting such an arbitrary and counterproductive license in the first
place! There is absolutely no sensible reason for wanting to do so. (Why
complicate things with these rube-goldberg rationales when it is already
hard enough to get researchers to realize they should do it for research
impact alone?)

> I guess enforcability would be a problem, though, since copyright or
> patents don't cover ideas and right to read and reference.

You can say that again! But entirely independent of the enforceability
question: It makes no sense, and would have extremely negative effects
if it were possible at all. (Most books, for example, being potentially
royalty-bearing, are unlikely to become open-access: Do you want to
forbid authors to make mention of your findings in books?)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Mar 27 2003 - 19:38:48 GMT

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