Open Access to Peer-Reviewed
Research Through Author/Institution Self-Archiving:
Maximizing Research Impact by Maximizing Online Access
In order to understand what has changed for scientific and scholarly research publication in the transition from the Gutenberg (on-paper) to the PostGutenberg (online) era, we first have to make five critical distinctions. If we fail to make any one of these distinctions, it will be impossible to make sense of the unique new possibilities opened up by the online era of “Scholarly Skywriting” (Harnad 1990) in the “PostGutenberg Galaxy” (Harnad 1991).
This is the most important PostGutenberg distinction of all. It is what makes this small, refereed research literature anomalous (~20,000 refereed journals, ~2,000,000 articles annually) -- fundamentally unlike the bulk of the written literature: Its authors do not seek, nor do they receive, royalties or fees for their writings. Their texts are author give-aways (Harnad 1995a). The only thing these authors seek is research “impact” (Harnad & Carr 2000; Harnad 2003d; Harnad, Carr, Brody & Oppenheim 2003), which comes from accessing the eyes and minds of all potentially interested fellow-researchers everywhere, now, and any time in the future, so they can read, use, cite, apply, and build upon our work. It is this research impact that in turn generates researchers' real rewards: promotions, tenure, research-funding, prizes, prestige -- and making one’s mark on the course of human knowledge.
The litmus test for whether a piece of writing falls in the small give-away sector of the literature or the much larger non-give-away sector is: “Does the author seek a royalty or fee in exchange for his writings?” If the answer is yes (as it is for virtually all books [cf. Harnad, Varian & Parks 2000] and newspaper or magazine articles), then the writing is non-give-away; if the answer is no,then it is give-away.
None of what follows here is applicable to non-give-away writing, yet the royalty-based, non-give-away model is the one that most people have in mind when they think of writing. So it is not surprising that that small fraction of writing that the more general model does not fit should seem anomalous, and give rise to some confusion at the beginning of the online age.
Unlike all other authors, researchers derive their income not from the sale of their research reports but from the scholarly/scientific impact of their reported findings, i.e., how much they are read, used, cited, applied and built-upon by other researchers. Hence all toll-based access-barriers are income-barriers for research and researchers (Harnad 1998a), restricting their potential impact to only those (institutions, mainly) who can and do pay the access-tolls. As most institutions cannot afford the access-tolls to most refereed research journals, this means that most research papers cannot be accessed by most researchers (Harnad 1998b): Currently, all that potential impact is simply lost.
Note that although researchers do not derive income from the sale of their refereed research papers (“imprint income”), they do derive income from the impact of those papers (“impact income”). The simple reason why researchers, unlike non-give-away authors, do not seek imprint-income for their refereed research is that the access-tolls for collecting imprint-income are barriers to impact-income (research grants, salaries, promotion, tenure, prizes), which is by far the more important reward for researchers, most of whose refereed papers are so esoteric (Harnad 1995b) as to have no imprint-income market at all.
These two very different aspects of copyright protection have always been conflated (Harnad 1999b), because it is the much larger and more representative non-give-away literature that has always been the model for copyright law and copyright concerns. But copyright protection from theft-of-authorship (plagiarism), which is essential for both give-away and non-give-away authors, has nothing at all to do with copyright protection from theft-of-text (piracy), which non-give-away authors want but give-away authors do not want. One can have full protection from plagiarism without seeking any protection from piracy.
The essential difference between unrefereed research and refereed research is quality-control (peer review, Harnad 1998/2000) and its certification (by an established peer-reviewed journal of known quality). Although researchers have always wished to give away their refereed research findings, they still wish them to be refereed, revised (if necessary), and then certified as having met established quality standards. Hence the self-archiving of refereed research should in no way be confused with self-publishing, for it includes as its most important component, the online self-archiving, free for all, of peer-reviewed, published research papers.
Eprint (“eprints” = preprints + postprints) archives, consisting of research papers self-archived online by their authors, are not, and have never been, merely “preprint archives” for unrefereed research. Authors can self-archive therein all the embryological stages of the research they wish to report, from pre-refereeing preprints, through successive revisions, till the refereed, journal-certified postprint, and thence still further, to any subsequent corrected, revised, or otherwise updated drafts (post-postprints), as well as any commentaries or responses linked to them. These are all just way-stations along the scholarly skywriting continuum (Harnad 1990). See http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/
· The entire full-text refereed corpus online
· On every researcher's desktop, everywhere
· 24 hours a day
· All papers citation-interlinked
· Fully searchable, navigable, retrievable, impact-rankable
· For free, for all, forever
All of this will come to pass. The only real question is “How Soon?” And will we still be compos mentis and fit to benefit from it, or will it only be for the napster generation? Future historians, posterity, and our own still-born potential scholarly impact are already poised to chide us in hindsight (Harnad 1999b). What can the research community do to hasten the optimal and inevitable? Here are some recent concepts that may help:
Subscription/License/Pay-Per-View (S/L/P) tolls are the access-barriers, hence the impact-barriers, constraining researchers and their give-away research. Tolls are the journal publisher's means of recovering costs and making a fair profit. High costs were inescapable in the expensive and inefficient on-paper Gutenberg era; but today, in the on-line PostGutenberg era, continuing to do it all the old Gutenberg way, with its high costs, must be clearly seen (in the special case of this minority give-away literature only: not the majority royalty/fee-based literature!) as the optional add-on that it has become, rather than as the obligatory feature that it used to be.
Be wary about the language of obligatory “value-added,” with which the peer-reviewed literature “must,” by implication, continue to be inextricably bundled together. The only essential service still provided by journal publishers (for this anomalous, author-give-away literature in the PostGutenberg era) is peer review itself (Harnad 1998/2000). The rest -- on-paper versions, on-line PDF page images, deluxe online enhancements (markup, citation-linking, etc.) -- are all potentially valuable features, to be sure, but only as take-it-or-leave-it options. In the on-line era there is no longer any necessity, hence no longer any justification, for continuing to hold the refereed research itself hostage to access-tolls bundled with whatever add-ons they happen to pay for. Beware also of any attempt to trade off S for L or L for P in Subscription/License/Pay-Per-View: Pick your poison, all three forms of toll are access-barriers, hence impact-barriers, and hence all three must go -- or rather, they must all now become only the price-tags for the add-on, deluxe options that they buy for the researcher and his institution, but no longer also for the peer-reviewed essentials, which can now be self-archived for free for all.
Peer review itself is not a deluxe add-on for research and researchers, for certification is an essential (Harnad 1998/2000). Without peer review, the research literature would be neither reliable nor navigable, its quality uncontrolled, unfiltered, un-sign-posted, unknown, unaccountable. But the peers who review it for the journals are the researchers themselves, and they review it for free, just as the researchers report it for free. So it must be made quite clear that the only real quality-control cost is that of implementing the peer review, not actually performing it.
as well as the real experience of
online-only journals (e.g., Journal of
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/psycoloquy/) have shown that the peer-review implementation cost is quite low -- about 1/3 (c. $500) of the total amount that the world's institutional libraries (or rather, the small subset of them that can afford any given journal at all!) are currently paying every year per article, jointly, in access tolls (c. $1500). Once the 2/3 toll-based add-ons become optional, the essential 1/3 peer review cost could easily be paid out of the 3/3 toll savings -- if and when the world's libraries should ever decide they no longer need the add-ons. (The other 2/3 savings can be used to buy other things, e.g., books, which are not, and never will be, author give-aways.)
Researchers need not and should not wait until journal publishers voluntarily decide to separate the provision of the essential peer-review service from all the other optional add-on products (on-paper version, publisher's PDF version, deluxe enhancements) before their give-away refereed research can at last be freed of all access- and impact-barriers. All researchers can free their own refereed research now, virtually overnight, by taking the matter into their own hands; they can self-archive it in their institutional Eprint Archives: http://www.eprints.org. Access to the eprints of their refereed research is then immediately freed of all toll-barriers, forever, and its research impact is at last maximized (Harnad 2003d).
Papers self-archived by their authors in their institutional Eprint Archives can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, with no need to know their actual location, because all Eprints Archives are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) meta-data tagging protocol for interoperability: http://www.openarchives.org
Because of their OAI-compliance, the papers in all registered Eprints Archives can be harvested and searched by Open Archive Services such as Cite-Base http://citebase.eprints.org/help/, the Cross Archive Searching Service http://arc.cs.odu.edu/, and OAISter http://oaister.umdl.umich.edu/o/oaister/ providing seamless access to all the eprints, across all the Eprint Archives, as if they were all in one global, virtual archive.
Eight steps will be described here. The first four are not hypothetical in any way; they are guaranteed to free the entire refereed research literature (~20K journals annually) from its access/impact-barriers right away. The only thing that researchers and their institutions need to do is to take these first four steps. The second four steps are hypothetical predictions, but nothing hinges on them: The refereed literature will already be free for everyone as a result of steps i-iv, irrespective of the outcome of predictions v-viii.
The Eprints software is free and GNU open-source. It in turn uses only free software; it is quick and easy to install and maintain; it is OAI-compliant and will be kept compliant with every OAI upgrade: http://www.openarchives.org/. Eprint Archives are all interoperable with one another and can hence be harvested and searched (e.g., http://arc.cs.odu.edu/) as if they were all in one global “virtual” archive of the entire research literature, both pre- and post-refereeing.
This is the most important step; it is insufficient to create the Eprint Archives. All researchers must self-archive their papers therein if the literature is to be freed of its access- and impact-barriers. Self-archiving is quick and easy; it need only be done once per paper, and the result is permanent, and permanently and automatically uploadable to upgrades of the Eprint Archives and the OAI-protocol.
Self-archiving is quick and easy, but there is no need for it to be held back if any researcher feels too busy, tired, old or otherwise unable to do it for himself: Library staff or students can be paid to “self-archive” the first wave of papers by proxy on their behalf. The cost will be negligibly low per paper, and the benefits will be huge; moreover, there will be no need for a second wave of help once the palpable benefits (access and impact) of freeing the literature begin to be felt by the research community. Self-archiving will become second-nature to all researchers as the objective digitometric indicators of its effects on citations and useage become available online (Harnad 2001e; Lawrence 2001a, 2001b) (e.g., cite-base or ResearchIndex).
Once a critical mass of researchers has self-archived, the refereed research literature is at last free of all access- and impact-barriers, as it was always destined to be.
Steps i-iv are sufficient to free the refereed research literature. We can also guess at what may happen after that, but these are really just guesses. Nor does anything depend on their being correct. For even if there is no change whatsoever -- even if Universities continue to spend exactly the same amounts on their access-toll budgets as they do now -- the refereed literature will have been freed of all access/impact barriers forever. However, it is likely that there will be some changes as a consequence of opening access to the refereed literature by author/institution self-archiving. This is what those changes might be:
It is likely that once a free, online version of the refereed research literature is available, not only those researchers who could not access it at all before, because of toll-barriers at their institution, but virtually all researchers will prefer to use the free online versions. Note that it is quite possible that there will always continue to be a market for the toll-based options (on-paper version, publisher’s on-line PDF, deluxe enhancements) even though most users use the free versions. Nothing hinges on this.
But if researchers do prefer to use the free online literature, it is possible that libraries may begin to cancel journals, and as institutional toll savings grow, journal publisher toll revenues will shrink. The extent of the cancellation will depend on the extent to which there remains a market for the toll-based add-ons, and for how long.
If the toll-based market stays large enough, nothing else need change.
It will depend entirely on the size of the remaining market for the toll-based options whether and to what extent journal publishers will have to cut costs and down-size to providing only the essentials: The only essential, indispensable service is peer review.
If publishers can continue to cover costs and make a decent profit from the toll-based optional add-ons market, without needing to down-size to peer-review service-provision alone, nothing much changes. But if publishers do need to abandon providing the toll-based products and to scale down instead to providing only the peer-review service, then universities, having saved 100% of their annual access-toll budgets, will have plenty of annual windfall savings from which to pay for their own researchers' continuing (and essential) annual journal-submission peer-review costs (1/3). The rest of their savings (2/3) they can spend as they like (e.g., on books -- plus a bit for Eprint Archive maintenance).
There is a great deal of concern about copyright in the digital age, and some of it may not be easily resolvable (e.g., what to do about the pirating of software and music). But none of that need detain us here, because digital piracy is only a problem for non-give-away work, whereas we are concerned here only with give-away work. (Again, failing to make the give-away/non-give-away distinction leads only to confusion, and the misapplication of the much bigger and more representative non-give-away model to the anomalous, and much smaller give-away corpus, which it does not fit.)
This is as much of a concern to authors of books as to authors of screenplays, music, and computer programs. It is also a concern to performers who have made digital audio or video disks of their work. They do not wish to see that work stolen; they want their fair share of the gate-receipts in return for their talent and efforts in producing the work. But the producers of refereed research reports do not wish to have protection from “theft” of this kind; on the contrary, they wish to encourage it. They have no royalties to gain from preventing it; they have only research impact to lose from access-denial of any kind.
“Fair Use” is another worthy concern. It has to do with certain sanctioned uses of non-give-away material, such as all or parts of books, magazine articles, etc., often for teaching purposes; the producers of these works do not wish to lose their potential royalty/fee-income from these works. The producers of refereed research reports, in contrast, wish to give their work away; hence fair-use issues are moot for this special give-away literature.
The producers of refereed research reports do not wish to prevent the “theft” of their texts; they wish to facilitate it as much as possible. (In the on-paper era they used to purchase and mail reprints to requesters at their own expense!)
No author wants any other author to claim to have been the author of his work. This concern is shared by all authors, give-away and non-give-away. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with concerns about theft-of-text, and should not be conflated with such concerns in any way: Give-away work need not be held hostage to non-give-away concerns about theft-of-text under the umbrella of “protecting” it from theft-of-authorship. (Unfortunately, some journal publishers still try use their copyright transfer agreements for this purpose, although their numbers are shrinking: see
http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/Romeo Publisher Policies.htm.)
Apart from the protection from plagiarism and the assurance of priority that all authors seek, the only other “protection” the give-away author of refereed research reports seeks is protection of his give-away rights! (The intuitive model for this is advertisements: what advertiser wants to lose his right to give away his ads for free, diminishing their potential impact by charging for access to them!)
There is now no longer any need for the authors of refereed research to worry about exercising their give-away rights, for they can do it, legally, even under the most restrictive copyright agreement, by using the following strategy.
Self-archiving the preprint is the critical first step. Before it has even been submitted to a journal, your intellectual property is incontestably your own, and not bound by any future copyright transfer agreement. So archive the preprints (as physicists have done for 12 years now, with over 250,000 papers, and cognitive scientists have done for 5 years now, with over 1500 papers). This is a good way to establish priority, elicit informal feedback, and keep a public record of the embryology of knowledge.
[Note that some journals have, apart from copyright policies, which are a legal matter, “embargo policies,” which are merely policy matters (nonlegal). Invoking the “Ingelfinger (Embargo) Rule,” some journals state that they will not referee (let alone publish) papers that have previously been “made public” in any way, whether through conferences, press releases, or on-line self-archiving. The Ingelfinger Rule, apart from being directly at odds with the interests of research and researchers, and having no intrinsic justification whatsoever -- other than as a way of protecting journals' current revenue streams -- is not a legal matter, and unenforceable. So researchers are best advised to ignore it completely (Harnad 2000a, 2000b), exactly as the authors of the 250,000 papers in the Physics Archive have been doing for 12 years now. The “Ingelfinger Rule” is under review by journals in any case; Nature http://npg.nature.com/pdf/05_news.pdf has already dropped it, so Science will probably follow suit too.]
Nothing changes in author publication practises; nothing needs to be given up. Submit your preprint to the refereed journal of your choice, and revise it as usual in accordance with the directive of the Editor and the advice of the referees.
Copyright transfer agreements take many forms. Whatever the wording is, if it does not explicitly permit online self-archiving, modify it so that it does. Here is a sample way to word it (http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/copyright.html):
I hereby transfer to [publisher or journal] all rights to sell or lease the text (on-paper and on-line) of my paper [paper-title]. I retain only the right to self-archive it publicly online on my institution's website.
About 20% of journals already formally support self-archiving of the refereed postprint: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/Romeo%20Publisher%20Policies.htm. Most other publishers (perhaps another 70%) will also accept this clause, but only if you explicitly propose it yourself (they will not formulate it on their own initiative).
Hence, for about 90% of journals, once you have done the above, you can go ahead and self-archive your paper. Some journals (perhaps 10%), however, will respond that they decline to publish your paper unless you sign their copyright transfer agreement verbatim. In such cases, sign their agreement and proceed to the next step:
Your pre-refereeing preprint has already been publicly self-archived since prior to submission, and is not covered by the copyright agreement, which pertains to the revised final (“value-added”) draft. Hence all you need to do is to self-archive a further file, linked to the archived preprint, which simply lists the corrections that the reader may wish to make in order to conform the preprint to the refereed, accepted version.
Everyone chuckles at this point, but the reason it is so easy is precisely because this is the author give-away literature. No non-give-away author would ever dream of doing such a thing (i.e., archiving the prepublication draft for free, along with the corrigenda). And copyright agreements (and copyright law) are designed and conceived to meet the much more representative interests of non-give-away authors and their much larger body of royalty/fee-based work. Hence this simple and legal expedient for the special, tiny, anomalous, give-away literature has no constituency anywhere else.
Yet this simple, risible strategy is also feasible, and legal (Oppenheim 2001) -- and sufficient to free the entire current refereed corpus of all access/impact barriers immediately!
The freeing of their present and future refereed research from all access- and impact-barriers forever is now entirely in the hands of researchers. Posterity is looking over our shoulders, and will not judge us flatteringly if we continue to delay the optimal and inevitable needlessly, now that it is clearly within our reach. Physicists have already shown the way, but at their current self-archiving rate, even they will take another decade to free the entire Physics literature (http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving.htm Slide 25) -- with the Cognitive Sciences (http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk) slower still, and most of the remaining disciplines not even started.
This is why it is hoped that (with the help of the eprints.org institutional archive-creating software) distributed, institution-based self-archiving, as a powerful and natural complement to central, discipline-based self-archiving, will now broaden and accelerate the self-archiving initiative, putting us all over the top at last, with the entire distributed corpus integrated by the glue of interoperability (http://www.openarchives.org).
As to the past (retrospective) literature: The preprint+corrigenda strategy will not work there, but as the retrospective journal literature brings virtually no revenue, most publishers will agree to author self-archiving after a sufficient period (6 months to 2 years) has elapsed. Moreover, for the really old literature, it is not clear that on-line self-archiving was covered by the old copyright agreements at all. And if all else fails for the retrospective literature, a variant of the Preprint+corrigenda strategy will still work: Simply do a revised 2nd edition! Update the references, rearrange the text (and add more text and data if you wish). For the record, the enhanced draft can be accompanied by a “de-corrigenda” file, stating which of the enhancements were not in the published version. (And of course the starting point for the revised, enhanced 2nd edition, if you no longer have the digital text in your word processor, can be scanned and OCR'd from the journal; by thus distributing the task, authors can do for their own work for-free what JSTOR http://www.jstor.org/ is only able to do for the work of others for-fee.)
Universities should create institutional Eprint Archives (e.g., CalTech) for all their researchers. They should also mandate that they be filled. It is already becoming normal practise for faculty to keep and update their institutional CVs online on the Web; it should be made standard practise by both research institutions and research funders as well as research analyzers and assessors that all CV entries for refereed journal articles are linked to their archived full-text version in the university's Eprint Archive. Here is a model and free software for adopting such a standardized CV:
Universities need to mandate the self-archiving of all peer-reviewed research output in order to maximize its research impact for exactly the same reasons as they currently mandate publishing it (and indeed as the quite natural PostGutenberg extension of “publish or perish”: “publish with maximized research impact, through self-archiving”). For a model university/departmental self-archiving policy statement, see: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/archpolnew.html.
For researchers who feel too busy, tired, old, or inexpert to self-archive their papers for themselves, a modest start-up budget to pay library experts or students to do it for them would be a small amount of money very well-invested. It will only be needed to get the first wave over the top; from then on, the momentum from the enhanced access and impact will maintain itself, and self-archiving will become as standard a practise as email.
But what needs energetic initial promotion and support is the first wave. If (i) the enhanced visibility, accessibility and usability (Lawrence 2001a, 2001b) of their own research output and its resulting enhanced impact on the research of others, plus (ii) the enhanced access of their own researchers to the research output of others are not incentive enough for universities to promote and support the self-archiving initiative energetically, they should also consider that it will be an investment in (iii) a potential solution to their serials crisis and hence the possible recovery of 2/3 of their annual serials (toll) budget. (Note that the success of the self-archiving initiative is predicated on the same Golden Rule on which both refereeing and research themselves are predicated: If we all do our own part for one another, we all benefit from it: “Self-archive unto others as ye would have them self-archive unto you” Harnad 2003d).
Libraries are the most natural allies of researchers in the self-archiving initiative to free the refereed journal literature. Not only are they groaning under the yoke of the growing serials budget crisis, but librarians are also eager to establish a new digital niche for themselves, once the journal corpus is on-line: Maintaining the Eprint Archives, and facilitating the all-important start-up wave of self-archiving (by being ready to do “proxy” self-archiving on behalf of authors who feel they cannot do it for themselves), will be a critical role for libraries to play.
(1) Offer trained digital librarian help in showing faculty how to self-archive their papers in the university Eprint Archive (it is very easy).
(2) Offer trained digital librarian help in doing "proxy" self-archiving, on behalf of any authors who feel that they are personally unable (too busy or technically incapable) to self-archive for themselves. Authors need only supply their digital full-texts in word-processor form: the digital archiving assistants can do the rest (usually only a few dozen key/mouse-strokes per paper).
(The proxy self-archiving will only be needed to set the first wave of self-archiving reliably in motion. The rewards of self-archiving -- in terms of visibility , accessibility and impact -- will maintain the momentum once the archive has reached critical mass. And even students can do for faculty the few keystrokes needed for each new paper thereafter.)
(3) Digital librarians, collaborating with web system staff , should be involved in ensuring the proper maintenance, backup, mirroring, upgrading, and migration that ensures the perpetual preservation of the university Eprint Archives. Mirroring and migration should be handled in collaboration with counterparts at all other institutions supporting OAI-compliant Eprint Archives.
Libraries can also facilitate a stable transition through their collective, consortial power ( SPARC : http://www.arl.org/sparc), providing leveraged support for publishers who are prepared to commit themselves to a schedule for downsizing to the essentials only (the peer review service, to the author/institution). And individually they can also be preparing in advance for the restructuring that will come if their toll savings grow; about 1/3 of their annual savings will need to be redirected to cover their university's own authors' peer-review charges per outgoing paper. The remaining 2/3 is theirs to use in any way they see fit!
Students are well-advised to keep doing what they do naturally: Favor material that is freely accessible on the Web. This will not net them very much of the non-give-away literature, but it will put consumer pressure on the give-away research literature, especially as these students come of age, and become researchers in their turn.
(1) Explicitly allow and encourage your authors to self-archive their pre-refereeing preprints.
One potential model is: Nature 's embargo statement:
"Nature does not wish to hinder communication between scientists... Neither conferences nor preprint servers constitute prior publication."
Another potential model is: Elsevier 's preprint statement:
"As an [Elsevier] author you [have the] right to retain a preprint version of the article on a public electronic server such as the World Wide Web."
(2) Also explicitly allow and encourage your authors to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints.
One potential model is the American Physical Society 's copyright statement:
" The author(s) shall have the following rights... The right to post and update the Article on e-print servers as long as files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that purpose. Any such posting made or updated after the acceptance of the Article for publication shall include a link to the online abstract in the APS journal or to the entry page of the journal."
Another potential model is the The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers' (ALPSP) model license:
" You... retain the right to use your own article (provided you acknowledge the published original in standard bibliographic citation form) in the following ways as long as you do not sell it [or give it away] in ways that would conflict directly with our commercial business interests. You are free to use your article... mounted on your own or your institution's website; [posted to free public servers of preprints and/or articles in your subject area]..."
See also: Rights MEtadata for Open archiving (ROMEO) index http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/ and
FOS policy statements by learned societies and professional associations
In this critical transiitonal time between the paper and online eras, refereed journal publishers are best-advised to concede graciously on self-archiving, as the American Physical Society (APS) and so many other publishers are doing, rather than attempting instead to use copyright or embargo policy to prevent or retard self-archiving. Such measures are not only (a) in clear and direct conflict with the interests of research and researchers, but (b) they are destined to fail, (c) they can already be legally circumvented, and (d) they only serve to make publishers look bad.
A much better policy is to accept and support what is undeniably the optimal outcome for research, researchers, and their institutions in the online era, namely, their research impact maximized through toll-free access for all its would-be users (and no longer just those whose institutions can afford the access tolls). This means beginning to look seriously at alternative business models, including the possibility of eventually separating the provision of the essential peer-review service to the author-institution (peer review implementation charges, per submitted paper) from the provision of all other add-on toll-based products (e.g., on-paper version, on-line version, other added-values) to the reader-institution, which should be sold as options, rather than being used to try to keep holding the essentials (the refereed final draft) hostage to impact-blocking access-tolls. There will still be a permanent niche for journal publishers. What remains to be seen is whether that will entail downsizing to peer-review service-provision alone, or whether there will also continue to be a market for toll-based add-ons even after the peer-reviewed drafts are publicly available toll-free through the Eprint Archives.
1. Mandate that the research that is publicly funded must not merely be published but it must be publicly accessible online (whether through self-archiving, open-access journals, or both).
2. Make it part of grant applications that CVs and bibliographies citing the applicant's prior work should contain links to the online full-text (whether self-archived in the author’s institutional Eprint Archive, or in open-access journals, or both).
Government and society should support the self-archiving initiative, reminding themselves that most of this giveaway research has been supported by public funds, with the support explicitly conditional on making the research findings public (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/281/5382/1459). In the PostGutenberg Galaxy there is no longer any need for that public accessibility to be blocked by toll-barriers (Harnad, Carr, Brody & Oppenheim 2003).
The beneficiaries will not just be research and researchers, but society itself, inasmuch as research is supported because of its potential benefits to society. Researchers in developing countries and at the less affluent universities and research institutions of developed countries will benefit even more from toll-free access to the research literature than will the better-off institutions, but it is instructive to remind ourselves that even the most affluent institutional libraries cannot afford most of the refereed journals! None have access to more than a small subset of the entire annual corpus (http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/arl/index.html). So open access to it all will benefit all institutions (Odlyzko 1999a, 1999b). And on the other side of barrier-free access to the work of others, all researchers, even the most affluent, will benefit from the barrier-free impact of their own work on the work of others. Moreover, a toll-free, interoperable, digital research literature will not only radically enhance access, navigation (e.g., citation-linking) and impact, hence research productivity and quality, but it will also spawn new ways of monitoring and measuring that impact, productivity and quality (e.g., download impact, links, immediacy, comments, and the higher-order dynamics of a citation-linked corpus that can be analyzed from preprint to post-postprint, to yield an “embryology of knowledge” (Harnad & Carr 2000; http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving.htm).
Researchers and their university administrators and librarians have so far been held back from self-archiving by certain prima facie worries, all of which are easily shown to be groundless. These worries are rather like “Zeno's Paradox”: “I cannot walk across this room, because before I can walk across it, I must first walk half-way across it, and that takes time; but before I can walk half-way across it, I must walk half-half-way across it, and that too takes time; and so on; so I how can I ever even get started?” This condition might better be called “Zeno's Paralysis” (http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/0819.html). Each of the worries can easily be shown to be groundless (and has been shown to be groundless, by myself and many others, many times). Yet the very same prima facie worries keep resurging elsewhere, like mushrooms, no matter how decisively they are uprooted in each instance. It will be a matter for future historians to explain the puzzle of why we were needlessly held back for so long from the optimal and inevitable even when it was well within reach, by these gratuitous worries (despite the “Los Alamos Lemma” (http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/0470.html) which is that whatever alleged obstacle was not sufficient to deter physicists from self-archiving 250,000 papers to date should not be holding back the rest of us either!).
Here are rebuttals to the most common of the prima facie worries about self-archiving; in future they can be used as FAQs to reply by number: Most are brief and to the point, because there are no long, complex, hidden issues in any of these cases. Hence it is best to get to the point in the simplest, most direct way possible. There is also a good deal of overlap and redundancy between them:
FAQ 1. Preservation
“I worry about self-archiving because archived eprints may not continue to exist or to be accessible in perpetuum on-line, the way they were on-paper.”
This worry is misplaced. It is not really a worry about self-archiving at all, but about the online medium itself. As such, it needs to be directed toward the primary database in question, which is the toll-access refereed journal literature, currently in the hands of publishers and libraries, and most of it already in both paper and digital form. If you are worried about the preservation of the online version, it is to its publishers and subscribing/licensing librarians that your worry needs to be addressed. The preprints and postprints that are being self-archived by their authors in their institutional eprint archives today are intended to maximize impact by providing immediate open access; they are merely open-access supplements to that toll-based primary literature at this time, not substitutes for it.
To put even this misdirected worry into perspective, we must remember that print-on-paper is not permanent either. The only relevant parameter is the probability of future access. The on-paper probability, such as it is, is achieved by generating (a) multiple copies that are (b) geographically distributed (c) in a (relatively) robust medium and can be made (d) visible to the human eye.
All four of these properties can be achieved (and have been) on-line too, and the resulting preservation probability can be made as good as, or even better than, the current probability on-paper.
That should be the end of the story: For once this concern is no longer grounded in actual, objective probabilities, but only in prior habits and attendant intuitions, then we are talking about biasses and superstitions and not about actual risks.
There are a few side issues: People worry about global power-failures, or global dictatorships. They should remind themselves that these are matters of probability too, and have their equivalents in paper.
People also, by analogy with current unreadable documents in obsolete word-processors or peripherals, worry about whether the digital code, even if preserved, will always be accessible and visible to the eye.
The answer is again probability: The reason print-on-paper has been faithfully preserved across generations (when it has been) is that the literate world's collective interests were vested in ensuring that it should do so. This same continuity of collective interests will exist for the digital corpus too, for the same reasons, except that digital code will be much easier to keep migrating to every successive new technology than print on-paper to every successive building or regime ever was.
(And there is always the option for those who are still not confident enough in the technology, despite the odds, of printing out hard copies as back-up: Indeed, that is a good way to put the magnitude of one's preservation worries to the test: Who will still feel the need to keep hard copies, and of how much of the corpus, once it's all on-line and accessible to everyone, everywhere, at all times?)
In short, setting up active preservation programs implemented by digital librarians is indeed important and necessary; but it would be completely irrational to interpret the need for robust preservation programs as a reason for any hesitation or delay whatsoever about proceeding with self-archiving right now -- a fortiori, because, for the time being, self-archiving is merely a supplement to, not a substitute for, the existing modes of preservation, on paper and online. If and when the day should ever come when primary journal publishers decide to downsize and become peer-review service-providers only, cutting costs by offloading the access and archiving burden entirely onto the network of institutional archives, then that institutional network will be quite ready, willing and able to take over the distributed digital preservation burden for its collective research legacy. But that time is not now, hence this worry (about self-archiving now) is misplaced.
FAQ 2. Authentication
“I worry about self-archiving because you can never be sure whether you are reading the definitive version of an eprint on-line, the way you can be sure on-paper.”
Again, the rational way to put this into context and proportion is to remind ourselves that the authenticity of an on-paper version is just a matter of probability too, and that the very same factors that maximize that probability on-paper can maximize it on-line too. Indeed, if we wish, we can make both the probability and the verifiability of authenticity on-line much higher than it currently is on-paper through techniques such as public hash/time-stamping and encryption .
Nor should the authentication issue be confused with the issue of Peer-Review (FAQ 7) or Journal Certification (FAQ 5) (separate questions), nor with the question of “ version control” (FAQ 23): There will be self-archived preprints, revised drafts, final accepted, published drafts (postprints), updated, corrected post-postprints, peer comments, author replies, revised second editions. In all of this, the refereed, accepted final draft is one crucial “milestone,” but not the only one, in the embryology of knowledge (and not even always the best one) (Harnad 1990).
And last, some of the “authentication” worries arise from conflating self-archiving and self-publication (1.4). To say it in longhand: The main objective of the self-archiving initiative is the freeing of the refereed drafts from access/impact barriers. The refereed draft has already been “authenticated” by the journal that peer-reviewed it. Do not confuse that authentication with some worry you may have about whether this self-archived draft is indeed what the author purports it to be. The only thing the author is “self-certifying” in this case is that this is indeed the journal-certified final draft. There is of course always a possibility that it is not the journal-certified final draft; but that was also true when the author sent you an on-paper reprint. The probabilities can, as usual, be tightened to make them as high as we feel comfortable with in either case (especially with institution-CV-based self-archiving, 7.2). And, as in the case of preservation (FAQ 1), self-archiving is at this stage merely a supplement, not a substitute for existing forms of authentication.
So, again, there are no rational authentication concerns at all to deter us from self-archiving immediately.
FAQ 3. Corruption
“I worry about self-archiving because eprints can be altered or otherwise corrupted on-line in ways they could not be corrupted on-paper.”
If the “authentication” worry (FAQ 2) is the worry about “self-corruption” by the author who has self-archived his own paper, this second “corruption” worry is about “allo-corruption” by parties other than the author.
Again, the answer is that simple and effective means are available to ensure that an on-line draft is uncorrupted with as high a probability as we feel we need. So this too is a non-problem. (Nor should it, again, be conflated with self-publication issues, which are irrelevant to the self-archiving of refereed, journal-published papers.) Whatever level of incorruptibility we feel we need, we can have it for self-archived papers too.
Consequently, corruptibility worries provide no rational basis at all for deterring us from self-archiving immediately.
FAQ 4. Navigation (info-glut)
“I worry about self-archiving because there is already too much to read, and it is already too hard to navigate it on paper; adding eprints will just make this situation even worse.
This worry deserves even less space than the others. It is incontestable that the information glut ( http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/how-much-info/summary.html) is far more navigable and manageable on-line than on-paper.
The primary objective of self-archiving is to free the refereed journal literature from impact-blocking access-tolls on-line. That literature is already being published on-paper. (If you think it should not be, it is with the journals and their referees that you need to take issue, not with self-archiving or the on-line medium!) When it is all accessible toll-free on-line, there is no need for anyone to feel any more (or less) obliged to read the refereed literature than they did on-paper. Keeping it either off-line or toll-based is certainly no cure for the information glut (if there is one); it merely makes the existing access-tolls the arbitrary arbiters of whether or not one reads something, rather than the reader's own rational judgement. (And unrefereed preprints can of course always be ignored altogether, if the reader wishes, on-line just as on-paper.)
In short, no rational deterrent at all to immediate self-archiving from concerns about navigation or information glut.
FAQ 5. Certification
“I worry about self-archiving because papers are not certified on-line, the way they are in a journal on-paper.”
This worry is again based on conflating publication and archiving (1.4): The journal publisher (and referees) provide the certification; the archive merely provides access. The author, in self-archiving, “self-certifies” his refereed, published draft as indeed being the self-same draft that the journal refereed and published (and certified). And this being the case is, as usual, a matter of probability, whether on-line or on-paper. And that probability can be made as high as we feel we need.
Again, no rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in the certification worry.
FAQ 6. Evaluation
“I worry about self-archiving because there is no evaluative process on-line as there is on-paper.”
Again, a conflation of publishing and archiving (1.4) : Journal editors and their referees evaluate drafts and revisions, and if/when they are satisfied that their journal's quality standards have been met, they certify the final draft as having met them (peer review). The author self-archives the peer-reviewed postprints (and unrefereed preprints, and perhaps revised post-postprints), tagging them correspondingly. We can decide how high a probability we need that the peer-reviewed draft is indeed the peer-reviewed draft, but that is not the problem of evaluation, but just the question of Authentication (FAQ 2) again.
So there is no rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving anywhere in the evaluation worry.
FAQ 7. Peer review
“I worry about self-archiving because on-line eprints are not refereed, as they are on-paper: What will become of peer review?”
Again, a conflation of publishing and archiving, as well as of preprints and postprints: The author self-archives both pre-refereeing preprints and refereed postprints (etc.), and each is clearly tagged as such. The peer review continues to be performed by the referees, as it always was. Peer-review is medium-independent.
review is not without its flaws, but improving peer
requires careful testing of alternative systems, and
that these alternatives are at least as
effective as classical peer review in
maintaining the quality of the
refereed literature (such as it is). No
alternatives have yet
been tested or demonstrated effective. Hence current peer
or elimination proposals are merely speculative hypotheses at
time, and red herrings insofar as the freeing of the peer-reviewed
literature is concerned: The self-archiving initiative is directed
the current peer-reviewed literature, such as it is,
from the impact/access
barriers of access-tolls, now. It is not
directed at freeing the literature
from peer review, or at testing
or implementing untested alternatives to peer
The benefits of freeing the refereed literature now are a sure thing; the benefits (if any) from future alternatives to peer review (if any) are purely hypothetical, and certainly nothing to hold as back from self-archiving to wait for. (See: “Peer Review Reform Hypothesis-Testing” [http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/0479.html], “A Note of Caution About ‘Reforming the System’” [http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/1169.html], “Self-Selected Vetting vs. Peer Review: Supplement or Substitute?” [http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2340.html].)
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in the peer-review worry.
FAQ 8. Paying the piper
“I worry about self-archiving because someone surely has to pay for all this: you can't get something for nothing!”
There are many fallacies embedded in this worry, among them misunderstandings about the nature of global networked communication. Internet connectivity is now a standard part of the infrastructure of most of the world's universities and research institutions. If you are not equally worried about who pays for your emails, websites, and web-browsing, you should not be worrying about your self-archiving either. Moreover, paying access-tolls is not paying the pertinent piper here anyway!
The refereed research literature is minuscule compared to the rest of the traffic on the Web (http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info/summary.html). It is the flea on the tail of the dog. Worry about the storage and band-width for the growing daily creation and use of audio, video, and multimedia (most of it non-research use!) by researchers at universities and research institutions before even beginning to fret about the refereed flea.
As usual, there is also some of the archiving/publishing conflation here (1.4), thinking that we must find some sort of counterpart for the printing/distribution costs, somewhere. But there isn't any. The cost per-paper of permanent online archiving is virtually zero, yet everyone, everywhere, has access to it all, forever. This is a Gutenberg expense that has simply vanished in the PostGutenberg Galaxy, leaving only the Cheshire Cat's Grin.
There is indeed one essential publishing cost that still needs to be paid, but it has nothing to do with Internet use: It is the cost of implementing peer review. That cost, however, is only 1/3 of the access-tolls currently being paid, and hence could easily be paid out of the annual toll savings (3.2).
The last of the “who-pays-the-piper” worries is, I think, a variant of the Capitalism (FAQ 14) worry. The best way to dispel it is to note that refereed publishing in the PostGutenberg Galaxy, once the literature has been made openly accessible through self-archiving, is likely (apart from whatever optional add-on products and services there may still be a market for) to downsize into a service ( peer review), provided to the author-institution, instead of the toll-based product (the text) that was provided to the reader-institution in the Gutenberg era.
Nothing hinges on this, however, for as long as the world wants to keep paying for the toll-based product, even after the refereed literature has been self-archived, the piper will be fully paid, yet the literature will be free of all its access/impact barriers.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in the who-pays-the-piper worries.
FAQ 9. Downsizing
“I worry about self-archiving because it may force journal publishers to shrink to a non-sustainable size, and then where would we be?”
No one can predict with certainty the evolutionary path that scientific/scholarly journal publishing will take once the refereed corpus is accessible online toll-free through self-archiving. The toll-based market for the on-paper version, for the publisher's on-line version or for other enhanced options may continue indefinitely, or it might shrink but re-stabilize at a lower level, or it might disappear altogether -- and this could happen relatively slowly or relatively quickly.
It is not clear in advance which of the current established journal publishers will want to continue doing what, under what conditions. The bottom line is that the only remaining essential service will be peer review. If and when that is the only service for which there remains a market, many current journal publishers will be able and willing to downsize to that niche; those that are not able or willing will terminate journal operations, in which case their titles (that is, each journal's editor, editorial board, referees, and authorship) will simply migrate to new on-line-only open-access journal publishers who are ready to adapt to the new niche [e.g., the Institute of Physics 's New Journal of Physics and BioMed Central ].
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about publisher downsizing.
FAQ 10. Copyright
“I worry about self-archiving because it is illegal, it violates copyright agreements, and can jeopardize career and livelihood.”
Please see the sections on copyright (5.0) and on legal ways to self-archive despite restrictive copyright transfer agreements (6.0).
In brief, more and more journals already support self-archiving (http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/ rcoptable.gif) and among those who do not yet formally support it, many will agree to author self-archiving if the author asks; for those journals that still don't, self-archiving the preprint before submission and a “corrigenda” file after acceptance is sufficient, and completely legal. What career and livelihood depend on is peer review and impact, and all self-archiving authors continue to enjoy both; neither one needs to be sacrificed for the other.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in copyright worries.
FAQ 11. Plagiarism
“I worry about self-archiving because it is so much easier to steal someone else's text on-line, and publish it as one's own, than it is to do so on-paper.”
This is again a matter of probability: Yes, “it is much easier to steal someone else's text on-line, and publish it as one's own, than it is to do so on-paper,” but it is also much easier to detect such thefts on-line; and it is possible to do both (steal and detect) on-paper too.
Depending on how important we find it to do so, we can make escape from detection so improbable on-line that it becomes harder to plagiarize on-line than on-paper. It is not clear, however, whether it is even all that important to do so. Worries about plagiarism are usual based on the archiving/publishing conflation (1.4): Once one's findings have been refereed and published, it is hard for anyone else to derive any benefit from them at the expense of the author (the peer-reviewed version settles all subsequent authorship disputes).
Pre-refereeing preprints are another story; they are dealt with partly in the prior discussion of Authentication (FAQ 2), and partly under Priority (FAQ 12), below.
For refereed postprints, however, refraining
them because of worries about plagiarism would
be no more rational than
refraining from publishing them on-paper in the
first place, for the very same
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in plagiarism worries.
FAQ 12. Priority
“I worry about self-archiving because one cannot establish priority on-line as one can on-paper.”
Establishing priority is again a matter of probability, but it can readily be made much more definitive and reliable (and earlier) on-line than on-paper if we wish. See Authentication (FAQ 2). More important, for the all-important refereed postprints, priority has already been established by publishing them, and the self-archiving is merely to maximize access and impact.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in priority worries.
FAQ 13. Censorship
“I worry about self-archiving because censors could decide what can and cannot appear on-line.”
This worry too is probably based in part on the usual archiving/publishing conflation (1.4) (casting the Web and the Archive in the role of a Publisher who refuses to publish your work).
It is true that one's on-line literary goods are at the mercy of the archives and archivists. But one's analog on-paper literary goods were likewise at the mercy of the libraries. They could have chosen to “censor” our work too.
Again, it is just a matter of deciding how tight we wish to make the probabilities in this medium. Mirroring, caching/harvesting and distributed coding already go some way toward taking it out of any potentially sinister local hands. And for refereed, published postprints, this argument (against enhancing their access) makes no sense at all.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about censorship.
FAQ 14. Capitalism
“I worry about self-archiving because access-tolls are hallmarks of capitalism, market economics, supply and demand, free enterprise. Give-aways smack either of socialism, or market interference, or non-sustainability.”
This too is merely a superstition. There are plenty of perfectly capitalistic precedents for give-aways, advertising being the most prominent one. If the thought of advertisers curtailing the potential impact of their ads by charging potential customers for access to them makes no sense, then it makes just as little sense to curtail the potential impact of research findings by charging potential users for access to them.
Nor is there any market interference in self-archiving one's own refereed research: If institutions and individuals want to pay for access-tolls to the on-paper version, or the publisher's PDF, or further options, they can still do so; but there is no longer any need or justification for continuing to hold the essentials (the peer-reviewed draft) hostage to those toll-based options in the PostGutenberg era, any more than there was any need or justification for continuing to hold the essentials of long-distance communication hostage to postal transport costs in the era of telephony. (Rather than capitalism being under assault from self-archiving, trying to prevent researchers from benefiting from this new, more efficient and economical way of disseminating and maximizing the impact of their refereed research smacks of protectionism.)
Two variants on the capitalism-worry arise from scepticism about the eventual transition from providing a toll-based product to the reader-institution to providing a peer-review service to the author-institution. Note that, strictly speaking, it is not even necessary to answer these worries, as this eventual transition is hypothetical, whereas freeing the refereed literature now through self-archiving is not; but here are replies anyway:
Question 1: “Won't paying directly for the peer review service lead to inflated peer-review costs by the most prestigious journals?”
Question 2: “Won't peer-review revenues lower standards, so that lower-quality work is accepted in order to get more peer-review revenue?”
The answer to both is similar: Referees referee for free, and journal quality and prestige (and impact) depend on rejection rates. Trying to inflate revenue by lowering acceptance thresholds simply lowers quality, thereby favoring the competition, with its higher standards. This is a built in counter-weight. Likewise for raising peer-review rates: As referees referee for free, there is no reason one journal should charge more than another, and if they do, they risk driving not only the authors but also the unpaid referees to the competition. Because the competitive commodity in this anomalous give-away domain is quality, and nothing else.
A proposal has occasionally been voiced to preserve access-toll-barriers by buying authors off from self-archiving, by offering to share the revenue with them (royalty payments). But the trade-off between imprint-income and impact-income (e.g. http://www.hero.ac.uk/rae/) is so disproportionate for this anomalous domain that there is not faintly enough money available to make (refereed-research) authors prefer sacrificing their potential impact in exchange.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about capitalism.
FAQ 15. Readability
“I worry about self-archiving because it is inconvenient to read texts on screen, and hard on the eyes. It is also not suitable for bed, beach or bathroom reading.”
At the moment it is undeniable that for extended, discursive reading, on-paper is still preferable to on-line. This will no doubt change, but even now it is no reason whatsoever for not self-archiving. First, a large proportion of the scientific and scholarly use of the refereed research literature consists of browsing and searching, not linear reading, and for this, on-line navigation is already incomparably superior. Second, there is still that vast potential readership to consider, whose access to your research in any form is currently blocked by unaffordable access tolls (Odlyzko 1999a , 1999b ; http://www.arl.org/stats/index.html ); for that entire disenfranchised population, it's either online or not at all. And last, even for linear reading, the archived version can always be printed off.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about readability.
FAQ 16. Graphics
“I worry about self-archiving because on-line graphics have coarser resolution than on-paper and require too much storage capacity and transmission time.”
Graphics too will no doubt improve. With a few exceptions, such as fine arts and histology, digital graphics are already good enough. Users can always decide whether or not they feel they need to access the deluxe hard copy; no need to make a pre-emptive decision on their behalf, as the on-line version is in any case a supplement, not a substitute, for the time being. And graphics are quite a natural test-bed to see whether there is still any market left for any toll-based add-ons. In many cases, web illustrations are already considerably better than paper, with the potential for higher resolution and greater dynamic range, especially as links. This is particularly true for illustrations in fields where the data are collected digitally in the first place, such as Astronomy.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about graphics.
FAQ 17. Publishers' future
“I worry about self-archiving because of what it might do to journal publishers' future.”
See the replies about Paying the Piper (FAQ 8), Downsizing (FAQ 9), and Capitalism (FAQ 14). Those journal publishers who are willing and able to scale down to their new PostGutenberg niche if and when it should ever become necessary can do so. New online-only open-access journal publishers [e.g., the Institute of Physics 's New Journal of Physics and BioMed Central] are ready to take over the titles in the cases where they are not. The remaining peer-review service costs per submitted paper can be paid for by the author-institution out of 10-30% of its annual 100% access toll-savings. And refereed journal publication is only a small portion of publication, most of the rest of which, being non-give-away, will proceed on-line much the way it does on-paper.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about publishers' future.
FAQ 18. Libraries'/Librarians' future
“I worry about self-archiving because of what it might do to libraries' and librarians' future.”
The refereed serials literature is all going on-line anyway, irrespective of the speed or success of the self-archiving initiative. If this requires restructuring of some librarian skills and functions, this will take place in any case. Some have thought that managing digital serials collections will fill the gap, but it is not clear how much management those will need, apart from paying the annual access toll-bills! Author/Institution Eprint Archives, on the other hand, will call for more digital librarian skills, in everything from helping researchers to do the self-archiving, to maintaining the institution's Eprint Archive and seeing to its continued interoperability with the rest of the world's Eprint Archives, its upgrading, and its preservation.
Moreover, in implementing and maintaining the institutional Eprint Archives, Libraries will be investing in the solution of their serials crisis. Of the 100% annual access-toll budget that this can potentially save, after 10-30% of it has been redirected to cover author-institution peer-review costs, the remaining 70-90% can be used to fund other librarians' activities, including the purchase of non-give-away materials such as books (whether on-paper or on-line).
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about libraries'/librarians future.
FAQ 19. Learned Societies' future
“I worry about self-archiving because of what it might do to Learned Societies' future.”
Learned Societies are potential allies in and beneficiaries of the self-archiving initiative. First, they are us. Whatever is good for research, and for research impact, is therefore also good for Learned Societies.
But many of them are also journal publishers, and hence may one day face downsizing pains. Unlike commercial publishers, however, their first and last allegiance will of course be to research and researchers, that is, to us. We will hear rationalizations about needing the access-toll revenues to fund “good works” such as meetings, scholarships and lobbying. But it will quickly become evident that, on the one hand, some of these good works are not essentials either, and certainly nothing that we would want to sacrifice research impact for; and the subset of these good works that really is essential (e.g., meetings) will prove to be able to fund itself other ways too, rather than needing to be subsidized at the expense of research impact. (Imagine explicitlly asking the society membership, once the causal connection between access and impact [Lawrence 2001a, b] becomes common knowledge: “Are you willing to continue subsidizing your society’s good works with your own lost research impact, by foregoing open-access and letting toll-access continue to decide who can and cannot use your [give-away] research?”)
Learned Societies (and perhaps also University Presses) are also natural candidates for taking over the serials titles of commercial journal publishers who prefer to discontinue journal operations rather than scale down to just becoming peer-review service providers.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about Learned Societies' future.
FAQ 20. University conspiracy
“I worry about self-archiving because I worry that universities may have other plans for their researchers' writings, such as Eprint Archive Access-Tolls.”
This worry seems to be based on some (one hopes) over-suspicious views about university administrators and their motives.
We should not forget that the give-away refereed literature is esoteric, with virtually no “market” per paper. So whereas there might be a basis for suspicion about what our hard-pressed universities might like to do if they could get their hands on our exoteric, non-give-away work (royalty-bearing books and textbooks), there's not much they could do to squeeze revenue out of our no-market, give-away refereed research reports even if they wanted to. On the contrary, our universities, like ourselves, co-benefit far more from the potential impact-income of our research output -- maximized by removing all access-barriers -- than from any potential imprint-income that could be squeezed out of it by in effect co-opting the “P” from the publishers' S/L/P (Subscription/License/Pay-Per-View) access-tolls and using it to charge institutional archive access-tolls.
Moreover, our universities' potential access-toll savings, and relief from their serials crises, are completely dependent on freeing access to our research. Any sign of university-levied archive-access tolls would simply serve to keep the current access tolls in place (simply changing the hand on the udder of the toll-based cash-cow).
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about University conspiracy.
FAQ 21. Serendipity
“I worry about self-archiving because of those lucky happenstances that happen only when browsing index cards, library shelves, and journal contents.”
This worry, despite its charm, does not deserve much space: With time, it will become evident that on-screen digital searching and browsing can be every bit as serendipitous as on-paper analog searching and browsing; chance adjacency effects are every bit as potent either way. The searching and browsing will simply be less exhausting to the limbs and fingers.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about loss of serendipity.
FAQ 22. Tenure/Promotion
“I worry about self-archiving because it does not count as refereed publication, and might even interfere with the chances for refereed publication.”
Yet another instance of the archiving/publishing conflation (1.4): The self-archiving initiative is aimed at freeing peer-reviewed publications from access toll-based access/impact barriers (not from peer review). Unrefereed preprints do not count as publications on-line any more than they do on-paper (Garfield 1999).
The other half of this worry is probably a variant of the Copyright (FAQ 10) concerns ( q.v.), as well as concerns about Embargo policies ( Harnad 2000a , 2000b ), both of which are groundless.
No rational deterrent to immediate self-archiving in worries about tenure/promotion .
FAQ 23. Version control
“I worry about self-archiving because there may be many versions and there is no way to be sure which is which, and whether it is the right one.”
There will be self-archived preprints, revised drafts, final accepted, published drafts (postprints), updated, corrected post-postprints, peer comments, author replies, revised second editions. OAI-compliant Eprint Archives will tag each version with a unique identifier. All versions will be retrieved by a cross-archive OAI search , and the “hits” can then be identified and compared by the user to select the most recent, official or definitive draft, exactly as if they had all been found in the same index catalogue.
FAQ 24. Napster
“I worry about self-archiving because it seems to be stealing, like Napster or Gnutella.”
Author-end give-aways of their own digital products via self-archiving is the antithesis of consumer-end rip-offs of others' non-give-away digital products via napster (www.napster.com) or gnutella (gnutella.wego.com): http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/newscientist.htm
It is very important to clearly distinguish and distance the two , because any inadvertent or willful conflation of the self-archiving initiative with napster can only retard the progress of the self-archiving initiative toward the optimal and inevitable.
(“Information is free” is nonsense: There is and always has been both give-away and non-give-away information. Steal the latter and you simply kill the incentive to provide it in the first place.)
FAQ 25. Mark-Up
“I worry about self-archiving because it would jeopardize proper mark-up.”
Mark-up (the tagging of all functional parts of a document, such as titles, headings, sections, figures, tables, paragraphs, and any other potentionally identifiable and manipulable sub-parts) is becoming increasingly important in digital documents. The most general mark-up “language” is called SGML and the subset of SGML that has been provisionally adopted for digital documents on the web is called XML. Most authors today use either Word, PDF, HTML, or TEX to create and render their documents. The documents thus produced do not have markup that is rich enough or flexible enough to allow important functions such as reference linking , flexible re-formatting, and reliable, intact migration to future formats for permanent preservation. This richer markup is currently provided by publishers and it must be done by hand and is therefore costly.
Hence an Eprint archive of documents self-archived without XML markup is only a short-term archive. A long-term archive requires the rich markup provided by publishers. But if present-day user preference for the free open-access documents prevents publishers from being able to recover their markup costs, will both the benefits of markup and the long-term functionality of the archived documents be lost?
The solution to this problem is the following:
(1) For now, self-archiving is not a substitute for what publishers do and provide, but a supplement to it, providing a parallel open-access version of the peer-reviewed text for any user whose institution cannot afford access to the publisher's toll-access version. The publisher's marked-up version will have more functionality, for those who can afford to pay for it, but the peer-reviewed full-text will at last be accessible to everyone, already maximizing its research impact today. This is the immediate short-term goal of self-archiving.
(2) Once the short-term goal of open access is attained, several alternative sequels become possible, and no one yet knows which of them will actually take place. The two main alternatives are:
(a) Nothing else changes. The self-archived version is accessible to all would-be users for free, and the publisher's marked-up version continues to be accessible only to those who can afford to pay. The publisher's revenues continue to pay for the mark-up, and its benefits are reserved for those who can afford to pay for them, as before, but the full-text without the markup (in WORD, HTML, PDF, or TEX) is available to everyone else.
It should be clear that if (a) is the eventual outcome, then that is no reason to hold us back from immediate self-archiving, as we have everything to gain from it (maximized access), and nothing to lose. The status quo continues, in parallel, along with the immediate effects of open access.
There is another possibility, however, and perhaps a more likely one:
(b) User preference for the open-access version reduces demand for the publisher's marked-up version to such an extent that its costs can no longer be covered from access tolls as they had been in the past. How is markup to be provided and paid for now?
If (b) is the eventual outcome, then because open-access will prevail, the cost-recovery can no longer be on the reader/institution end, in the form of access tolls. However, the reader/institutions also happen to be the author/institutions. Hence they are in a position to redirect a portion of their annual windfall toll savings to cover the remaining essential costs per outgoing paper rather than per incoming paper, as now. The collective cost currently paid by all subscribing institutions combined averages $1500 per incoming paper. If all subscribing institutions instead get back their portions of these costs, then the ~$500 per paper cost of peer review can easily be paid out of these annual windfall savings, with plenty of savings to spare. The cost per-paper of physical archiving is negligible: How much would markup cost, per paper, over and above peer review?
No one knows exactly, yet, but it is likely that a good deal of the task of markup can be offloaded onto the authors, just as digital text preparation has been, with the development of user-friendly XML markup tools. WORD will soon generate automatic XML versions, just as it now generates automatic HTML (and they will no doubt prove equally inadequate, needing to be supplemented by some windows-based hand-manipulation by the author). But overall, it is likely that the pressure of necessity will inspire more and more effective and easy-to-use author-based markup capability.
of necessity that drives these adaptive changes,
however, will come from the
existence of the free open-access
version. So markup concerns provide no reason
to hold us back from
FAQ 26. Classification
“I worry about self-archiving because we would first need a subject classification system.”
There are (at least) two ways to think of University Digital Archives, both of them important and valid, but definitely not the same:
(A) The University Digital Archive as the university digital library -- or, more specifically, the university digital library for all of the university's own scholarly, scientific and pedagogic output. (This includes journal articles, books, teaching materials, and any other digital content the university produces and wishes to include in its digital output.) See SPARC's position paper on institutional repositories and MIT's DSpace
There is no question but that a rigorous system of classification and tagging -- to make such a total university digital output navigable and integrable and interoperable with corresponding digital output from other universities in similar University Digital Archives -- would be extremely important to have, indeed a prerequisite for the usefulness and usability of such a university digital output library.
(B) The University Eprint Archive as a means of providing open access to all of the university's peer-reviewed research output (before and after peer review). Almost without exception, this is the work that also appears in the peer-reviewed journals sooner or later (indeed, that is how it gets peer-reviewed).
It should be clear that (B) is a very special subset of (A). But it should be equally clear that that special subset does not have any particular or pressing classification problem! These are not books. They are journal articles. Our journal articles are not indexed in our university library card catalogues (only the journals in which they appear are). When we want to search the journal literature, we do not look to any university classification system: we go to indexing services such as INSPEC, MEDLINE, ISI, etc. (Those do have their own classification systems, but it is unlikely that any of those classifications could out-perform google-style boolean search on an inverted full-text index, especially if aided by citation-frequency-based, hit-based, recency-based, or relevance-based ranking of search output, as done, for example, by citebase http://citebase.eprints.org/help/index.php).
It is important to make it crystal clear that the peer-reviewed research corpus -- and those University Eprint Archives for which that particular corpus is the main target literature at this time -- do not have a classification problem, and need not and should not wait for any solution to any classification problem before getting on with the infinitely more pressing task of getting themselves filled with their university's research output -- so that they can at last start plugging the chronic leak in its potential impact!
Agenda (A) (the university digital output library) is very important and worth pursuing; it is also an extremely valuable collaborator to agenda (B) (open access to peer-reviewed research through institutional self-archiving) -- but only if the two agendas facilitate rather than restrain one another (as any implication that agenda (B) has classification problems to solve would most definitely do).
FAQ 27. Secrecy
"I worry about self-archiving because it would compromise the secrecy of patents and sponsored research."
Self-archiving is only for research results one wishes to make public, just as publishing is. Whatever one does not wish to publish, one does not self-archive. (Eprint Archives also have the option of depositing a text for internal use only, not accessible to the public, if/when this is judged useful.)
FAQ 28. Affordability
“I worry about self-archiving because we it will interfere with making toll-access more affordable.”
The immediate purpose of self-archiving is to maximize research impact, not to make toll-access more affordable. Research impact has been lost (by research and researchers) since the beginning of refereed research publication because of the high costs of providing paper access. The online medium now makes it possible for them to stop losing this impact. Of course, universally affordable toll-access would have the same effect (if it were truly universal -- i.e., the universities of all potential users of all refereed research could afford to access it all). It would be splendid if journal publishers could provide universally affordable toll-access, and they are certainly encouraged to work toward doing so. But in the meanwhile, it is quite understandable that today’s researchers prefer not to wait (for when and if universally affordable toll-access arrives). They will self-archive to maximize their research impact now (while they are still alive and compos mentis).
Some may think the competition to the toll-access version from the open-access version will keep toll-access less affordable; some may think it will have the opposite effect, encouraging cost-cutting and downsizing to the essentials, making it more affordable. If the price of the value-added toll-access version becomes affordable enough, and the demand for its added-value is sufficient to sustain the market, then it is demand for the open-access version that will shrink, and along with it the incentive to self-archive, for the universal affordability will make any further impact loss negligible.
That is not where we are right now, however, and researchers would be rather foolish to wait patiently to see how things may or may not eventually turn out if they were to continue to renounce their potential daily impact even today, when it is no longer necessary.
FAQ 29. (your prima-FaQ here...)
(see also Peter Suber's fuller timeline at the Free Online Scholarship site: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm )
(Refereed On-Line-Only Journal) (1989)
"Scholarly Skywriting" (1990)
"PostGutenberg Galaxy" (1991)
"Interactive Publication" (1992)
Self-Archiving ("Subversive") Proposal
"Tragic Loss" (Odlyzko) (1995)
"Last Writes" (Hibbitts) (1996)
Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library
University Provosts' Initiative (1997)
CogPrints: Cognitive Sciences
Journal of High Energy Physics (Refereed
Science Policy Forum (1998)
Scientist Forum (1998)
Linking Project (1999)
E-biomed: Varmus (NIH) Proposal (1999)
Searching Service (2000)
Free OAI-compliant Eprint-Archive-creating software
FOS: Free Online Scholarship Movement (2001)
BOAI: Budapest Open Access
Citebase: Scientometric Search Engine: http://citebase.eprints.org/
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