22 September 2003


"Cui prodest publicatio

 A proposal for a specific workshop in the framework of ESOF 2004 by

Simeon Anguelov, Françoise Praderie, Pierre Baruch, and Claude Kordon

Members of Euroscience



1. Rationale


Science or the building of objective knowledge about the world is a collective human endeavour. It relies upon the free circulation of new experimental facts, hypotheses, and theories driven by a specific publishing system. The scientific paper, which since recently may have the form of an electronic file as well, displays the working of the five ethical principles ruling the academic science, defined in Robert Merton’s seminal works, and recently recalled by John Ziman as CUDOS principles. Here C stays for communality, U- for universality, D for disinterestedness, O for originality and S for skepticism. (Robert Merton, The Sociology of Science, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1973; John Ziman, Real Science: what it is, and what it means, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000)


Everybody should have access to the scientific archives considered as public good (C). Nobody can be excluded from the process of contributing scientific papers for reasons of race, age or sex (U). Nobody relies upon publishing to get rich (D), everybody contributing to the scientific archive must have to say something new (O). Transforming an individual discovery into codified knowledge , thus making it available to other humans, goes through the approval by the invisible colleges of fellow-scientists. The noble role of the reviewers to be skeptical and critical before recommending any submitted paper to publication is the second duty of any scientist contributing otherwise actively as author to the scientific archive (S).


How is this system working today? Does everything turn around so well as in the Platonic world of CUDOS, where authors are lonely knights seeking for truth, reviewers are fair and incorruptible judges, editors are disinterested and generous gentlemen building the archive of the public knowledge? The introduction of new communication technologies at the end of the 20th century has had profound impact on the mode of production, appropriation and dissemination of scientific knowledge. The Internet permitted an enormous expansion in the flow, but also potential abuses of information. As a consequence it induces new forms of organisation of the actors. The responses to these questions are vital for the sound functioning of the science system. To discuss them, we propose the organization in the framework of Euroscience Open Forum 2004, to be held in Stockholm, August 2004, of a two-session workshop entitled “Cui prodest publicatio?”


2. Two sessions


The first session (“Cui prodest publicatio scientiarum”, stricto sensu or what is methodology and ethics of the publication process) will be dedicated to the analysis of the situation within the scientific communities, where scientists are reading, writing, and reviewing scientific papers using the classical paper- and the new electronic technologies for dissemination. Do scientific publications and their number represent the only practically applicable and practically efficient indicators for measuring the efficiency of the scientists?  Is the scientific publication still the main vehicle of the knowledge or there are new no-less important ones? Here the key questions to be discussed are:

·        How and what are the scientists really reading, and really citing later on in their own papers, or the real impact of the journals?

·        How are the scientists writing and submitting their papers ( hierarchy of the journals, the personal relations within the community, the bibliometric indicators and the carriers, quantity versus quality)?

·        How are the scientists reviewing the papers of their peers ( the ethics of reviewing)?

·        How do they organize to use the immense potentialities of Internet and at the same time to fight against the inflation of publications?


The second session (“Cui prodest editio” or what are the economic and social issues related to the publication process) will treat the complex and ambiguous relations between (the) scientists and publishers, and between the publishers of scientific reviews and the public funds for making science. Here the main topic will be :

·        The crucial conflict between the relative disinterestedness of the scientists as authors and reviewers on the one side, and the publishing houses asking expensive prices for the journals from the scientists and their libraries on the another.

·        The economy of papers’ diffusion: is  the free access to electronic in formation sites economically fair?, What are sustainable solutions?

·        The role of the new electronic archives and distribution of the primary scientific information via INTERNET as alternative or complementary to the classical paper editing

·        The question of the intellectual property rights :  who should have copyrights?


3. Organization of the sessions


Half day of about 3 working hours per session: 9:00 to 12:10 for the first, and 14:30 to 17:40 for the second.


Prospective key-note lecturers and discussants

First Session: (methodology and ethics)


Moderator (30 minutes for introducing the subject): Hubert Markl, former president of Max Planck Society



1/Peter A. Lawrence, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

(look at his recent commentary on the politics of publication in Nature, vol.422, 20 March 2003, page 259)

2/Philip Campbell, Editor-in Chief NATURE

3/Adam Lomnicki, Institute of environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland (look at his letter in Nature, vol.424, p.487, 2003

4/ Steven Harnard, University of Southhampton

5/ an expert in scientometrics from the pan-European network of excellence in S&T indicators



Total time for the discussants: 70 minutes

General discussion with some proposal for conclusions by an editing group: 60 minutes

Coffee break: 30 minutes


Second session: (economic and social issues)


Moderator: Pierre Baruch, Emeritus Professor, Université Paris VII „Denis Diderot“ (look at his recent commentary on the problems of publication in "Quel avenir pour la recherche ?" V. Duclert and A. Chatriot, eds; pp. 133-144, Flammarion, Paris, 2003)"



                        1/ Frank Gannon, EMBO

                        2/ Dominique Foray, Université Paris Dauphine

                        3/An Elsevier or Kluwer or Cambridge University Press Chief PUBLISHER

                         4/Representative of one big European learned Society editing journals




Total time for the discussants: 70 minutes

General discussion with some proposal for conclusions by an editing group: 60 minutes

Coffee break: 30 minutes


Sir Roger Elliott may be invited to discuss the outcome of these two sessions in a plenary session with largest attendance.


If needed, a third session could be organized, because of the abundance of the matter. In particular, some views from Central and Eastern Europe request full consideration.