The (Refereed) Literature-Liberation Movement Harnad, S. (2001) The (Refereed) Literature-Liberation Movement. The New Scientist.
Longer version:

The (Refereed) Literature-Liberation Movement

Stevan Harnad
Intelligence/Agents/Multimedia Group
Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton

Something is clearly very wrong here. Researchers give away their work; all they ever wanted in exchange was that all potential users should be able to access it. The web has now created this possibility of free universal access. Unlike recording artists, however, who want to earn royalties from the sale of their work, and so do not want users to be able to download it from the web for free (yet they can, and do), researchers do want users to download their work for free (yet they can't).

So what are researchers to do? Their growing frustration has lately inspired a wide range of literature-liberation scenarios, from the far-fetched Utopian ("Give up submitting your work to non-giveaway journals") to the frankly crackpot ("Give up peer review [refereeing] and journals altogether") to the outright cop-out ("Settle for the public freeing of access to your findings 6 to 12 months after you have published them").

When print was the only medium of dissemination, there was no alternative to toll-gated access. The web era has provided a method of liberating the refereed research literature online without giving up journals or peer review, and without violating copyright. This "Self-Archiving Initiative" is swift and certain, tried and true, well within reach and long overdue.

To free this literature virtually overnight, all its authors need do is to self-archive their own portion of it online in their institution's "e-print" archive. Free archive-creating software ( is now available to make all such institutional e-print archives "interoperable" (, hence "harvestable" into one global virtual archive ( -- free for everyone, everywhere, forever. For the details, see