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It is interesting to see that when one tries to explicate something to
Stevan, it becomes "long" and is done in the style of "strained
hermeneutics". We all know how pithy Stevan is! Also, I will keep my
evaluation of the quality of his hermeneutics to myself.
The rest is in the body of the text.
Le dimanche 11 septembre 2005 Ã 12:38 +0100, Stevan Harnad a Ã©crit :
> Most of Jean-Claude Guedon's last posting consisted of long and
> interesting (but irrelevant) reflections on the sociology and philosophy
> of science (no science is involved or at issue here) along with some
> hermeneutics on the long, rambling (and mostly irrelevant) full-texts
> that accompanied the the three short and almost-identical versions
> (UK Select Committee, Berlin 3, RCUK) of the two very specific OA policy
> recommendations, each of which, despite J-CG's strained hermeneutics,
> still state, simply and concretely:
> (1) mandate OA self-archiving
> (2) encourage/support OA publishing.
> J-CG makes no new points, merely repeating the point on which we have
> already agreed: that apart from being able to mandate self-archiving,
> an institution or funder *could* also mandate OA publishing under one
> exceptional condition (only): when it is that funder itself that is
> funding that journal (as Canada's SSHRC does for 150 journals).
Indeed, I adopted Stevan's well-known strategy of repetition, given that
he immediately tried to dismiss as minor rather than look at its
possible positive possibilities.
> I agree fully, and point out only that this is not what the UK Select
> Committee, Berlin 3, or RCUK have actually recommended mandating --
But why should we feel constrained by earlier formulations? These are
not scriptures of a new church; they are reference points that evolve as
we move from one to the next. Stevan himself described some variations
between these three statements.
> possibly because such a small proportion of the world's 24,000
> peer-reviewed journals are thus subsidised that it did not seem worth the
This is your hypothesis. It is not proved. My first soundings of the
situation seem to indicate that there is more to it than has been
believe up to now. Why not say: let us do some work on this to see?
Would that not be a better attitude than immediately pounce on any new
idea as if it were irrelevant. Are we witnessing a case of "not invented
here", the here being reduced to the small volume inhabited by SH?
In a nutshell, I think I am beginning to put my fingers on a significant
facet of scholarly publishing that seems to have been largely neglected.
This facet appears to be made up of mainly (but not exclusively) social
science publications. I begin to feel that the OA movement has not paid
enough attention to the social sciences and the humanities and that it
has neglected the fact that publishing in those fields is not exactly
the same as in science. One quick difference: the social science
citation index in SSH has never acquired the importance that it has in
STM. Monographs remain the prestige unit of publication. By and large,
journal prices in SSH are much cheaper than in STM, probably because
publishers have not managed to create effective inelastic markets as
they have in STM.
> Funders could, however, certainly add this minor clause to their
> mandates, as long as they specified the journals in question, to make it
> clear that they were merely attaching conditions to subsidies that they
> are already providing (just as in the case of fundee self-archiving) --
> rather than taking the incoherent and untenable step of mandating OA
> publishing in general, for the vast majority of journals that neither
> they nor any other funder or institution subsidises. (Please don't reply that
> to subscribe or submit papers to is to subsidise.)
Let us not play with words: subsidies are subsidies. They include cash
transfers, but also material support such as offices, secretarial time,
etc. One could use as reference the terms King and Tenopir use to
analyze the cost of publishing scholarly journals. Similar elements have
been mentioned by commercial publisher to say that universities were
waging unfair competition against them. I am not talking about
subscriptions or submitting papers here, and never did. Raising this
issue is obfuscation at best.
Why a "minor" clause? This is a large and significant extension of the
"mandating" task. It applies to an entirely new category of players. It
relies on a different set of arguments. And it is being discussed right
now in some countries where new declarations in favour of OA are in the
> I now delete the philosophical, ideological and speculative passages and reply
> only to the few points that remain, because some of them have concrete
How nice to characterize attempts at dialogue in this dismissive way!
> > when Research councils call for mandating depositing in an IR, the
> > actual IR used may... [be] within the research institution itself
> > (or... research Council...)... therefore... calling for mandating by
> > the authorities of... a given university cannot be done without some
> > discussion with the same authorities. In the course of discussing,
> > the need to provide the resources to create an IR will necessarily
> > emerge and will be part of the negotiation.
> (1) IRs are cheap to create and maintain:
> Creating and maintaining them has never been the problem: *filling* them
> has been. The self-archiving mandate is meant to be the remedy for that.
> (2) For those (fewer and fewer) UK institutions that do not yet have an
> IR, there are several back-up OAI-compliant central archives available
> to comply with the self-archiving mandate. Again, the archive is not
> the problem, the filling is.
No one is denying all of this. I was addressing RCUK's way of dealing
with these admittedly minority and not very complicated cases. It was
RCUK that brought these issues up. Precisely because they were of minor
importance and quite garbled, I found them symptomatic of deeper issues.
But I realize this is a form of reading that is not used in science and
Stevan is probably not very familiar with it.
> (3) RCUK *should* offer some per-paper support for IR costs, rather
> than just offering support for per-paper OA publishing costs. Not only
> would the cost per-paper be incomparably lower, and the paper-yield
> be incomparably greater, but it would plug up a gaping and gratuitous
> loop-hole for opting out of the mandate (on the grounds of not yet having
> an IR to self-archive in).
> > Reading Stevan, it looks like a foregone conclusion: the opposition
> > between "mandating" and "encouraging" is cleverly set up to project the
> > impression that one is essential, the other, at best, ancillary. This
> > would be true if:
> > 1. The IR's were filling pretty fast on the simple basis
> > that the impact advantages are convincing a strong
> > minority of scientists or even a majority to
> > self-archive spontaneously. We all know this is not
> > happening: we have only a minority of some significance
> > which seems to be located at about the 15% level if we
> > simply use the figures Stevan generally quotes.
> Here Jean-Claude is so completely misunderstanding the purpose of the
> self-archiving mandate that it takes one's breath away: If the objective
> evidence of the impact advantage had been enough to generate self-archiving,
> the self-archiving mandate would not have been *needed,* and we would already be at
> 100% OA today.
> Rather, just as the JISC international survey evidence had indicated
> and the two implemented mandates to date have confirmed
> without a mandate: about 15% OA self-archiving; with a mandate: over 90% OA
First of all, I hope you have recovered your breath. I mention this only
to show how much rhetoric there is in Stevan's interventions.
Second of all: ????? On what point does my formulation differ from
Stevan's. Where do I misunderstand? This is passing strange!
> And it is not that OA self-archiving is essential and OA publishing
> is ancillary; it is that (1) OA self-archiving can be mandated,
> whereas OA publishing can only be encouraged/supported (except by the
> subsiders of subsidised journals, which are few) and hence that (2)
> mandating OA self-archiving can generate immediate 100% OA whereas
> encouraging/supporting OA publishing cannot.
This is the whole point of my new idea about subsidized journals. It
extends the possibilities of mandating to a category of journals.
How do you know these journals are few? Where is your evidence?
Just to be picky - I can't resist -, and using Stevan's own figures
over, mandating OA self-archiving can generate "over 90% OA". Of course,
100% is rhetorically more powerful than 90%...
> > we know indeed that journals that are subsidized by public money can
> > be mandated to provide OA. Stevan's only objection there is that he
> > wants to see how significant these journals are, but he had to admit
> > that it could be done. From that point the debate is about estimates of
> > relative efficiency.
> Agreed. And that is why we need to know not only where the
> subsidised journals rank in the journal quality/impact hierarchy,
> but, more important, what their true proportion is, among all 24,000
> journals. Otherwise we are making a mandate out of a mole-hill.
Impact factors have only a limited role in SSH. Is Stevan aware of this?
The hierarchies are many because SSH journals tend to be published in
national languages. Try to do a world hierarchy of literature journals,
for example. But perhaps literature is also one of these minor, marginal
phenomena belonging to some archaic past.
I also believe that a large volume of marginal science falls in this
category and I suspect Stevan thinks that this latter category fills the
whole section of subsidized journals. If that were the case, then
governments would have a problem: despite selection or competitive
processes, they would subsidize only the inferior and the marginal
publications? This seems hardly credible. On the other hand, governments
are not going to subsidize journals on the unique criterion of
excellence anywhere in the world. I cannot see Canada subsidizing an
Elsevier journal merely because it stands at the top of its specialty.
Governments mix the quest for excellence with national limits. They also
add other considerations such as the need to distribute, equilibrate,
etc. The result is a system of subsidies that aims at national
excellence while paying attention to other local parameters. Obviously
the situation is complex. However, Stevan should pay attention to the
fact that those of us who are trying to remain close to the complexity
of reality are not thereby practicing obfuscation.
I also suspect that many of these journals do not appear in the 24,000
journals - a figure that is essentially based on Ulrich. Why? Because
Ulrich aims at US librarians and their needs. Language reappears here.
US librarians, except in the very largest and richest research
institutions stick largely to English, and then to a few more important
Stevan is a provincial inside the knowledge sphere: he knows the STM
scene pretty well, but is essentially ignorant of the conditions that
prevail in SSH.
In conclusion of this section, we are not talking about a mole-hill!
(more unjustified rhetoric) That is my point. Rather than harping on the
alleged insignificance of the situation, a more positive Stevan would
take a more constructive approach and see if the phenomenon is
significant at all, rather than dismiss it out of hand, in the most
unscientific of manners.
> > Stevan himself... used to expound... his "house of cards" metaphor.
> That was *paper* house of cards, and concerned mostly when electronic publication
> would prevail over paper publication.
Indeed. You followed the same trail as all of us. First, we thought
electronic publishing, of itself, would solve the publishing crisis.
Then we realized that technology was not enough, in and of itself, to
solve it, all the more so that commercial publishers quickly developed
their own know-how in the digital world. That is when new approaches
were pushed. PLoS version 1.0 is an excellent signal of that transition.
BOAI marks the maturation of the alternative vision. Since then, we have
moved forward and we are constantly refining th tactics and strategies.
This whole debate, incidentally, is only about tactics and strategies. I
can be summarized as follows:
SH believes in self-archiving OA: let us call this X
To make this come true, SH needs some accompanying measures (impact
arguments, easy keying-in, mandating, etc...). Call this dX1
SH's position, therefore, is X + dX1
JCG says: I fully accept X + dX1
I also think that some further accompanying measures are worthwhile
(e.g. the extension of mandating, creating a second layer of evaluation
in IR's, etc.). Call this dX2
My position, therefore, is X + dX1 + dX2.
Does dX2 hurt in any way X + dX1? Obviously not.
So, why is SH strenuously opposing dX2 by trying to reduce it to
Answer: I wish I knew...
> But never mind. I admit past mistakes: I wrongly believed for a while
> that publishers were the obstacle to OA. I now realise they are not,
> and never were: *Researchers themselves* are the only obstacle, for they
> are the only ones who can actually *provide* OA -- whether by choosing to
> publish in OA journals (where possible) or by choosing to self-archive
> their articles (always possible). Over ninety percent of journals have
> even given author self-archiving their blessing (although it was not
> really needed), the evidence of the 50%-250% OA impact advantage is
> on the table, researchers are signing petitions for OA in the tens of
> thousands -- but only 15% of them are as yet self-archiving.
I do not want to open up a whole new can of worms, but I wonder how you
can claim that publishers ar enot part of the problem and repeatedly
mention how we must craft our messages carefully not to be maneuvered by
the publishing lobby? Are notpublishers behind the publishing lobby? Is
the publishing lobby irrelevant?
> Which is why the self-archiving mandate was needed: Like "publish or
> perish," it is meant to require/reward researchers to do what is in
> their own self-interest (and that of their institutions and funders).
No quarrel here.
> > publishers are far from convinced by Stevan's assertions and, moreover,
> > his argumentative style is not terribly helpful in this regard.
> Publishers are not the ones that need the convincing: researchers (and
> their institutions and funders) are. I find myself arguing more these
> days with those (like Jean-Claude) who are recommending the (in my view)
> wrong policies rather than with publishers, who are largely irrelevant to
> research policy (though their 90% green author self-archiving policies
> were a welcome help). (And make no mistake about it: OA provision is
> first and foremost a matter of research policy.)
And I wonder why you argue so much with the likes of me. How about the
publishers' lobby once again? Irrelevant. Your recent scrapes with Sally
Morris did not appear so minor either. Why don't you concentrate your
forces there rather than on the likes of me. Methink our dX2 difference
does not deserve so much attention.
> Publishers are worried that self-archiving will reduce their revenues. I
> am not arguing with them, but merely pointing out that there exists
> no evidence of that, and that all existing evidence is of peaceful
> co-existence between self-archiving and journal publishing. I am also
> not arguing with publishers when I point out that the RCUK mandate is
> not an OA publishing mandate, as publishers wrongly suggest, but merely
> an OA self-archiving mandate. I am pointing out a fact.
Apparently, publishers are not so sure of this claim. Again, I have
Sally Morris in mind.
> Jean-Claude's suggestion that funder-subsidised journals could be mandated
> to become OA journals is fine, but then it has to be made crystal clear
> that this is a very special (and almost certainly very minute) case that
> does not affect the vast majority of publishers, who are not subsidised
> by the funding bodies that are mandating the self-archiving.
Almost certainly very minute? The dismissive rhetoric has never been as
> As to argumentative style: I plead guilty to sometimes losing my patience
> with (what I see as) foolishness, especially oft-repeated foolishness that
> is not attentive or responsive to repeated, detailed and painstaking
> critical replies. But, unless I am mistaken, for a number of years
> now it is no longer I who delight in picking fights with publishers,
> but rather Jean-Claude! A case in point:
Then SH should direct that impatience toward himself because the most
repetitive person on the OA-forum is he, without a doubt.
Extraordinarily long documents made of cut-and-paste statements and
repetitive URL references to past discussions are not a good way to keep
an open spirit of discussion. Behaving as if everybody else were a child
in an elementary classroom is not terribly respectful of colleagues.
> > As for the "publishing lobby", we can expect that they will grab any
> > handle language provides. That is what lawyers are trained to do... [No]
> > formulation, however precise, will stop a lawyer from building a case
> > that may sound convincing to a judge
> The case for the RCUK policy proposal is not a legal matter; hence it is
> being argued before the research community, not a court of law. If there
> is a conflict of interest between what is best for research and what is
> best for publishers, it is clear in which way this conflict of interest
> will have to resolved, for it is publishing that is being done in the
> service of publicly funded research, and not vice versa. I trust that that
> point at least is one on which Jean-Claude and I are still in agreement.
RCUK policy is aimed at the research community but its design cannot
avoid striking political and legal nerves. Must I remind SH that laws
emerge from political battles within and that legal arguments refer to
the law. Trying to make believe that the scientific sphere is totally
immune from the rest of society's turmoil is a thesis that even R. K.
Merton would not have accepted, although he was very intent on showing
the specificity and autonomy of the scientific community. This is
totally naive and simplistic.
If there is a conflict with publishers? For starters, the 10% that is
not green is directly in conflict with OA. Some of these publishers are
quite influential in their own professional sphere. This translates into
strategies where the whole profession may yield a little (confusing
shades of green) for a while while doing everything possible to make
this OA business either whither away or come under the control of
publishers (I am thinking about Springer's Open Choice in this regard).
Publishing ought to be done in the service of publicly supported
research. This is true. But after Robert Maxwell realized that there was
the possibility of an inelastic market ready to be exploited in STM
publishing - incidentally, he tried to buy the Science Citation Index
for decades and I wish Eugene Garfield would share with us in detail
this part of history - a great proportion of publishing was no longer in
the service of publicly supported scientific research. That too, SH does
not seem to recognize, despite profit levels that should encourage us to
buy their stock...
The recent row between The Lancet and Elsevier, although it deals with
issues that have nothing to do with this particular discussion,
nonetheless serves to demonstrate how divergent the values of commercial
publishers and scientific editors can be.
So, does it make sense to choose to behave as if publishers were not
part of the problem?
I confess that my question is rhetorical: you can all guess my answer.
> Stevan Harnad
Dr. Jean-Claude GuÃ©don
Dept. of Comparative Literature
University of Montreal
PO Box 6128, Downtown Branch
Montreal, QC H3C 3J7
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Received on Mon Sep 12 2005 - 13:21:32 BST