Re: Third World Academy of Sciences and open access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2003 13:35:59 +0100

On Sun, 5 Oct 2003, Subbiah Arunachalam wrote:

> We should ask ourselves why in areas other than physics and computer
> science (where arXiv and CiteSeer are so very successful) scientists of
> the world are reluctant to set up open [access] archives. WSIS, Geneva,
> provides all of us a great opportunity to push the idea of open access
> to ALL S&T literature and get international support.

First, my gratitude (and that of many others) for your untiring work
on behalf of open access in the developing world.

Your question is a very valid and timely one. (Although self-archiving
in other fields is not quite as sluggish as you fear, the self-archiving
rate in all fields, however, is still far, far too low: ).

So, by way of a candidate reply to the question of why self-archiving
is not growing more quickly, the answer is, I think, simple, and exactly
the same for the developing world and the developed word: It is for
*exactly* the same reason that there would be very little research
published at all if it were not for the carrot/stick of "publish or
perish." If the careers and funding of researchers and the prestige
and overheads of their research institutions were not both formally and
causally contingent on publication, researchers would hardly publish. That
is human nature: they would still do research, but many would not bother
to publish it.

By exactly the same token, having been motivated by the existing
publish-or-perish reward system to publish, researchers will not
bother to maximize the uptake and impact of their research unless the
publish-or-perish mandate is extended to "publish with maximal impact."
In other words, it is up to researchers' institutions and their research
funders to *mandate* open access for their peer-reviewed research
publications, at both institutional and national levels, just as they
mandate publishing itself (and for exactly the same reasons).

Once this is done, formally, self-archiving will quickly climb to the
high rate that has already been reachable in principle for several years
now, but has not yet been taken advantage of, for lack of motivation and
incentive -- and perhaps also for lack of knowledge of the direct causal
connection between research access and research impact.

The OAI has provided the all-important interoperability
protocol ( OAIster and
others have provided the cross-archives search services
( Romeo
has sorted out the rights issues
We at Southampton have provided some of the tools (self-archiving software scientometric imact-measuring
engines and and standardized
online CV software plus
policy models for institutional and national open-access and
self-archiving policies and practises
( and and ). And the BOAI
has sounded the clarion-call for open access
( ).

It remains only for institions and research-funders to concertedly adopt
and apply these tools and policies by naturally extending their existing
"publish or perish" policies to "publish with maximized impact." That
means officially adopting the dual open-access strategy:

      (1) publish your research in an open-access journal whenever
      a suitable one exists (5%)


     (2) publish the rest of your research (95%) in a toll-access journal but
     also self archive it in your own institutional Eprint Archives

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):

Discussion can be posted to:
Received on Sun Oct 05 2003 - 13:35:59 BST

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