EPRINTS = PREPRINTS (unrefereed) + POSTPRINTS (refereed)

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 14:11:27 +0000

This Subject Thread begins (2000):


Related Threads:

    "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"
Open Access News http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/fosblog.html
(Friday January 23 2004) contains the following item:

> OA will transform scholarly communication
> David C. Prosser, The Next Information Revolution - How Open Access
> repositories and Journals will Transform Scholarly Communications,
> Liber Quarterly, 13, 3/4 (2003) (accessible only to subscribers).
> http://liber.library.uu.nl/cgi-bin/pw.cgi/articles/000047/index.html
> Abstract: "Complaints about spiralling serials costs, lack of
> service from large commercial publishers, and the inability to
> meet the information needs of researchers are not new. Over the
> past few years, however, we have begun to see new models develop
> that better serve the information needs academics as both authors
> and readers. The internet is now being used in ways other than just
> to provide electronic facsimiles of print journals accessed using
> the traditional subscription models. Authors can now self-archive
> their own work making it available to millions and new open access
> journals extend this by providing a peer-review service to ensure
> quality control." Posted by Peter Suber at 11:29 PM.

I could not access the article as Liber is toll-access; but perhaps
David Prosser could explain the last sentence in the above summary:

> Authors can now self-archive their own work making it available to
> millions and new open access journals extend this by providing a
> peer-review service to ensure quality control

Without the full text it is hard to know which of two possible senses
is intended here. The first sense is spot-on and irreproachable:

    (1) Authors can now provide open access to the peer-reviewed articles
    they publish in toll-access journals by self-archiving them AND
    (2) there are also new open-access peer-reviewed journals in which
    authors can publish their articles.

If this is the intended sense of the passage, it is a very welcome

        (OAJ) Researchers publish their research in an open-access
        journal if a suitable one exists, otherwise

        (OAA) they publish it in a suitable toll-access journal and also
        self-archive it in their own research institution's open-access
        research archive.

But unfortunately there is another possible construal of the above
passage, and it would be very helpful if David would clarify whether it
was in fact this that he meant:

     Authors can now (1) self-archive unrefereed drafts of their work
     and then (2) extend this by submitting them to open-access journals
     to peer-review them.

I hope the latter is not what David meant, for it is merely the common
error of thinking that self-archiving is only, or primarily, about
unrefereed preprints. This is and has always been incorrect. "Eprints"
are electronic drafts of various stages of the same paper. "Preprints" are
drafts *before* the paper is peer-reviewed and accepted for publication,
and "postprints" are drafts *after* the paper has been peer-reviewed
and accepted for publication.

Self-archiving can provide open access to either the preprint or the
postprint draft of an article or both, but the primary target of the
open-access movement is of course the postprint, not the preprint! There
are 2.5 million postprints published yearly in the world's 24,000
peer-reviewed journals (<1000 of them open-access journals, >23,000 of
them toll-access journals), and it is to those 2.5 million postprints,
not merely their preprints, that self-archiving is intended to provide
open access.

Preprints are an extra bonus. It is highly recommended that authors
self-archive their preprints too: It accelerates the research cycle,
physicists have been doing it for decades, and the research community is
quite capable (with plenty of prior practise from paper days) of making
the distinction between an unrefereed preprint and a refereed postprint
(bearing the journal name and date). The rule for unrefereed preprints
always was and continues to be: "caveat emptor" (i.e., use with caution),
and the cautious user will wait for the refereed version to appear before
risking an attempt to build upon work that has not yet been validated
and may prove unreliable or downright wrong (except in special cases
where the name and reputation of the author justifies the risk, or the
user is expert enough to peer-review it for himself).

A delay of 8-12 months or more separates the preprint from the
postprint. That is the interval in which the peer-review and the revision
are being done. Self-archiving authors, including the physicists who have
been doing it the most systematically, since 1991, do not leave their
unrefereed preprints dangling after the peer-review and revision are
done! If there have been no changes, they simply update the reference,
inserting the name of the journal that accepted it and, when available,
the volume, year, and page-numbers. If there have been changes, they
self-archive the peer-reviewed final draft (i.e., the postprint, with
its updated reference).

I invite David to clarify that what he meant was *not* that
self-archiving is merely for unrefereed preprints, which should then
be submitted to open-access ("gold") journals for peer review. That would
be fine if there were 24,000 open-access journals. But as there
are fewer than 1000 open-access journals to date http://www.doaj.org/
with the rest toll-access http://www.ulrichsweb.com/ulrichsweb/analysis/
this would condemn the research community to a very long, uncertain,
and unnecessary wait for open access: It would mean waiting for the
creation/conversion of the remaining 23,000 toll-access journals (>95%),
one by one!

This would be neither a correct picture of the open-access reality today,
nor a correct picture of the possibility and feasibility of further open
access today: At least three times as many articles (postprints!)
are being made open-access today by being self-archived by their authors
as are being made open-access by being published in open-access journals

And (although this can only be quantified after the reporting rate
for existing open-access journals stabilises) it is almost certain
that the growth rate of open-access provision through self-archiving
today is considerably higher than through publishing in open-access
journals. (This stands to reason, as it is far easier to create and fill
new institutional eprint archives with toll-access journal articles than
to convert or create and fill new open-access journals.)

Neither growth-rate is anywhere near high enough, however, so what is
needed today is clear, correct information to the research community
about the benefits of open-access and their two complementary means of
attaining it.

I also note that it is ironic that David's article in Liber is not itself
open-access! It has been often remarked in this Forum -- incorrectly! --
that it is ironic when a newspaper or magazine article about open access
is itself not open-access. But that is not ironic at all, as journalists
write articles for hire, and are paid fees for their writing, which is
then sold by the newspaper or magazine for a fee (toll).

Researchers, in contrast, do not write their peer-reviewed articles for a
fee; they write them -- and give them away -- so that they will be used by
other researchers, and that usage is called "research impact." It is for
the sake of maximising research impact -- and putting an end to needless
impact-loss because of access-denial to would-be users whose institutions
cannot afford the access-tolls -- that the open-access movement exists.

Now even a peer-reviewed journal -- I am not sure whether Liber is one
http://liber.library.uu.nl/ -- is not obliged to convert from toll-access
to open-access ("gold") if it does not wish to take the risk. So the
irony here is not that Liber is not a gold journal (even though it is
promoting the creation of gold journals!). The irony is rather that this
article by David Prosser has not been made open-access by its own author,
through self-archiving!

David may indeed have self-archived it and the search-engines may just
not have picked it up yet (in which case I apologise for having thought
otherwise!). But if David did not self-archive this article, then he has
forgotten to practise what he preaches -- or he is indeed preaching
the wrong sermon (of the two construals of the passage quoted at the
beginning of this posting)!

In case David's reply is that he cannot self-archive this article
because Liber is not a "green" toll-access journal (i.e., it does not
yet formally endorse author self-archiving as 55% of journals already do
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving_files/Slide0021.gif ),
then I would like to respectfully suggest that part of the article's
preaching ought perhaps to have been that Liber *ought* to be
green! (Perhaps that *was* in the article, but alas, without access,
one cannot know!)

For Liber's vision statement, see:

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
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        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Sat Jan 24 2004 - 14:11:27 GMT

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