Reminder: self-archiving is a supplement, not a substitute

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 13:49:49 +0000

It is useful to remind ourselves of a few home truths of the OA era:

(1) The primary target of OA is peer-reviewed journal articles. (We are not
talking here about vanity self-publication)

(2) OA self-archiving is an *access* matter, not a publication matter.

(3) The author's self-archived draft provides *access* to what the author
*publishes* in the journal.

(4) What one lists under one's "refereed publications" in one's academic CV is
not self-published papers but journal-published articles that have met that
journal's standards of peer review.

(5) The author's self-archived draft is hence not the canonical article, but
merely a free form of supplementary access to it, for those who cannot afford
access to the canonical version, which is the publisher's official version.

(6) No one is talking about the withdrawal of the official, published version!
(That is not in the OA Archive's hands!)

(7) The issue (if any) is about whether the self-archived supplement should or
should not be withdrawable.

(8) The answer is *of course* that it is preferable that it is not withdrawn,
because the supplementary access should be permanent.

(9) But, dear friends, we now stand at 15% self-archiving, and beggars cannot
be choosers: What we need in order to increase self-archiving to 100% as soon
as possible is not more deterrents but more incentives.

(10) The author worry that self-archiving may be irreversible is one of many
(groundless, but nevertheless effective) deterrents to self-archiving today.

(11) To conflate access-provision with publication (11a), to conflate
the withdrawal of supplementary access with "unpublishing" (11b),
and to conflate supplementary access-provision through institutional
self-archiving and its withdrawal with the creation and then the
destruction of the historic archival record (11c) is to misunderstand
what OA self-archiving is about and for.

(12) The sensible OA archive policy is to (12a) explain to the author
that self-archiving is supplementary access provision, to those who
cannot afford access to the journal version, for the sake of maximising
the usage and impact of the article, to (12b) strongly encourage that the
supplementary access, once provided, be left in place, but (12c) *not*
to discourage providing it in the first place by stimulating, ominously
(and unnecessarily), that once it is done it may never be undone!

The metadata describing a self-archived text that is subsequently
withdrawn from public view can still be kept in the institution's internal
records, for book-keeping purposes, even if the author withdraws public
access to the full-text. To worry about such things is tantamount to
worrying that the author sends in his annual CV and then subsequently
writes to say that one of the items the CV listed as published in journal
X has since been withdrawn from journal X.

A tempest in a teapot.

For vanity self-publishing, nolo contendere.

Stevan Harnad

P.S. HAL sounds as if it is confusing itself over whether it is an
access-provider to CNRS research output, or the publisher of CNRS research
output. If it were the publisher, it would be a vanity press. The publisher is
the journal, and HAL is merely a supplementary access-provider and record-keeper
(at least insofar as its publisher journal content is concerned). The same is
true of all OA IRs.
P.P.S. HAL's over-emphasis on copyright matters, and especially the idea that
authors of published journal articles should make a further copyright agreement
with and for HAL, sounds like a symptom of the same confusion between HAL as a
supplementary access-provider vs. HAL as a primary publisher...

On Thu, 1 Dec 2005, Thierry Chanier wrote:

> Dear all,
> I agree with Jean-Claude Guedon. Let us make a few comments about the statement
> in HAL ( concerning the withdrawal possibility
> (statement we had carefully discussed with our colleagues in charge of HAL and
> others who had carefully studied the rights/law) and about the "droit d auteur".
> Please forgive my English. I lack time to revise it.
> Yes we do say in the open archive HAL that withdrawal is not permitted. What
> does it means?
> First withdrawing a paper is not intellectually acceptable (I am not taking
> about errors during the deposit, errors which the moderators may have not
> noticed at once). If we accept withdrawal then we are going to rewrite history.
> The consequences would be very important for the whole scientific world and the
> society. This question only appears because we use electronic media. With the
> paper it would be different (how would you suppress an article from a paper
> issue from all the libraries in the world? The Soviet Unions have done it with
> the "scientific" work of biologists in the 30s, but it was a totalitarian
> society, precisely). It would be so easy to do it nowadays in one repository and
> cancel the publication with one click from all over the world. Consequently we
> have to be careful of possible consequences outside the question of OA, that
> some people/parties may want to reuse.  We should not forget that the open
> archives initiative with the OAI standard is opening the way to the archival of
> electronic publications (publishers have no obligation on such issue). And
> dealing with archival issue ("conservation du patrimoine", in French) forbids
> withdrawal.
> When forbidding withdrawal am I following the so-called "droit d auteur" or
> running against it?
> Let me first insist on the fact that when one claims to support the "droit d
> auteur" and want to explain to young researchers what it means, the best thing
> is to support behaviours which are intellectually acceptable ... and the
> withdrawal is not.
> However, it is true that some interpretations of the "droit d auteur" may give
> the right to the author to withdraw. So how can we face this contradiction? 
> When stating in HAL that withdrawal is not possible we mean that it would not be
> acceptable from a scientific standpoint. Let me give my private interpretation.
> If an author insists on withdrawing, firstly we should start discussing with
> him/her and know for which reason. If this comes from a publisher's threat then
> we could (the scientific community) react and open a public debate. It may help
> things change (as done in the past).
> If withdrawal is requested by the author after h/she made an error (I mean a
> scientific error that s/he wants it to be forgotten) then we should withdraw the
> paper and advertise this fact  in the archive and on scientific networks in
> order to publicly tell everybody that it runs against history and science. I
> think we will never have to come to such an issue.
> And the "droit d auteur"
> The so-called French "droit d auteur" in its everyday use with the private
> publisher only means one thing: as the author of a  paper you own the property
> on the words written. This property is "imprescriptible". But is only
> theoretical/abstract, because you cannot reuse your own words. It is forbidden
> by the contract you signed with the publisher. Even more the publisher ask you
> to give him the possibility to reprint your paper wherever he wants to cut it
> into peaces without giving you the possibility to check the meanings, etc.  Am I
> exaggerating? People may have the details of such contract in my book
> Some well known French commercial publishers (not all) are against open archives
> (30 years for the moving wall ??), against a real understanding of what is
> really the "droit d auteur" and even ask you to sign illegal contract (just a
> question of pressure, I have not seen anyone claiming against illegal contracts
> and I have heard some publishers privately recognised they were illegal). Do you
> want a name ? The contract I give in my book was one established by Hermes
> (Paris), well known in computer science.
> There are things hard for me to understand in France:
> - the French claim that the "droit d auteur " is much better than the
> "anglo-saxon"  (quotes around this word are intentional , it is the way we use
> it in France ; colleagues from   the English speaking world may find it
> pejorative) copyright. This is not true when you carefully study how things
> actually are.
> - some people in France start insisting on the "droit d auteur" only now (they
> have, without noticing anything, signed contracts running against it for years
> without claiming nor commenting) and when they insist, it is on issues not
> important and not intellectually very interesting (as the withdrawal case). We
> have heard so many discourses from commercial publishers which pretended to take
> care of our "droit d auteur" that we should be careful.
> Yes the "droit d auteur" or "copyright" needs to be protected and explained, but
> in a positive way, in a constructive way, and the priority is to make it clear
> that it has been repeatedly attacked and that the open access initiative is one
> of the best way to really supported (not pretend it is).
> Thank you for your attention.
> Thierry Chanier
> At 30/11/2005, you wrote:
> Cher Collègue,
> Allow me to underscore the fact that, despite all the respect I have
> for
> the moral rights of authors, I cannot support the right to withdraw
> a
> published scientific piece (the right to "repent" to use the quaint
> French expression). As a historian of science, I cannot accept the
> alteration of the scientific archive and the reaction to Elsevier's
> decision to withdraw a few discredited articles from some of their
> journals a few years ago comforts me in this regard. Even Pieter
> Bolman,
> from Elsevier admitted as much publicly a while back. I do not
> remember
> which conference it was, but I can testify to this fact.
> Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Thierry CHANIER
> Universite de Franche-Comte
> 32 rue Megevand,  25030 Besancon Cedex, France    
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> Telec.:(+33/0) 3 81 66 64 50
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> ----------------------------------------------------------
Received on Thu Dec 01 2005 - 14:08:24 GMT

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