Stevan Harnad (2002) Skyreading and Skywriting for Researchers: A PostGutenberg Anomaly and How to Resolve it. Virtual Symposium October 2001 - March 2002. "Screens and Networks: Towards a Relationship With the Written Word?" Bibliotheque Centre Pompidou.
Skyreading and Skywriting for Researchers:
A PostGutenberg Anomaly and How to Resolve it

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

ABSTRACT: There will be a profound and fundamental dividing line in the PostGutenberg Galaxy, between non-give-away work (books, magazines, software, music) and give-away work (of which the most important representative is refereed scientific and scholarly research papers). It is the failure to make this distinction that causes so much confusion, and that is delaying the inevitable transition of the give-away work to what is the optimal solution for scholars and scientists: that the annual 2,000,000+ articles in all 20,000+ refereed journals across disciplines and languages and around the world should be freed online through author/institution self-archiving: This paper tries to show how questions about
copyright, peer review and other controversial issues can be clarified if the give-away/non-give-away distinction is made.


 A PostGutenberg Anomaly

1. A brand-new PhD recipient proudly tells his mother he has just published his first article. She asks him how much he was paid for it. He makes a face and tells her "nothing," and then begins a long, complicated explanation...

2. A fellow-researcher at that same university sees a reference to that same article. He goes to their library to get it: "It's not subscribed to here. We can't afford that journal. (Our subscription/license/loan/copy budget is already overspent)"

3. An undergraduate at that same university sees the same article cited on the Web. He clicks on it. The publisher's website demands a password: "Access Denied:Only pre-paid subscribing/licensed institutions have access to this journal."

4. The undergraduate loses patience, gets bored, and clicks on Napsterto grab an MP3 file of his favourite bootleg CD to console him in his sorrows.

5. Years later, the same PhD is being considered for tenure. His publications are good, but they're not cited enough; they have not made enough of a "research impact." Tenure denied.

6. Same thing happens when he tries to get a research grant: His research findings have not had enough of an impact: Not enough researchers have read, built upon and cited them. Funding denied.

7. He decides to write a book instead. Book publishers decline to publish it: "It wouldn't sell enough copies because not enough universities have enough money to pay for it. (Their purchasing budgets are tied up paying for their inflating annual journal subscription/license/loan costs...)"

8. He tries to put his articles up on the Web, free for all, to increase their impact. His publisher threatens to sue him and his server-provider for violation of copyright.

9. He asks his publisher: "Who is this copyright intended to protect?" His publisher replies:  "You!"

What is wrong with this picture?
(And why is the mother of the PhD whose give-away work people cannot steal, even though he wants them to, in the same boat as the mother of the recording artist whose non-give-away work they can and do steal, even though he does not want them to?)

Resolving the Anomaly:

How a few critical distinctions plus a few simple actions
can restore sense to it all

1. Five Essential PostGutenberg Distinctions:

In order to understand what is wrong with the picture, one must first make five critical distinctions. If one fails to make any one of these distinctions, it will be impossible to make sense of the picture or to resolve the anomaly, an anomaly completely unique to the online era of "Scholarly Skywriting" in the "PostGutenberg Galaxy".

1.1. Distinguish the non-give-away literature from the give-away literature

This is the most important PostGutenberg distinction of all. It is what makes this small refereed research literature (~20,000 refereed journals, ~2,000,000 articles annually) anomalous -- 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 . The only thing these authors seek is research "impact", which comes from accessing the eyes and minds of all potentially interested fellow-researchers everywhere, now, and any time in the future.

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 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, but the non-give-away model is the one that most people have in mind for all of writing. So it is not surprising that that small fraction of writing that the more general model does not fit should seem anomalous.

1.2. Distinguish income (arising from paper sales) from impact (arising from paper use)

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, cited, and built-upon by other researchers. Hence all fee-based access-barriers are income-barriers for research and researchers, restricting their potential impact and uptake to only those (institutions, mainly) who can and do pay the access-fees.

As most institutions cannot afford the access-fees to most refereed research journals, this means that most research papers cannot be accessed by most researchers : Currently, all that potential impact and upake are 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 as to have no imprint-income market at all.

1.3. Distinguish between copyright protection from theft-of-authorship (plagiarism) and copyright protection from theft-of-text (piracy)

These two very different aspects of copyright protection have always been conflated, 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.

1.4. Distinguish self-publishing (vanity press) from self-archiving (of published, refereed research)

The essential difference between unrefereed research and refereed research is quality-control (peer review) 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, and 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 refereed, published research papers.

1.5. Distinguish unrefereed preprints from refereed postprints

("eprints" = preprints + postprints)

Eprint 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, 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.

2. The Optimal and Inevitable for Researchers

  • 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
  • For free, for all, forever
All of this will come to pass. The only real question is "How Soon?" 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 scholarly impact  are already poised to chide us in hindsight.

What can the research community do to hasten the optimal and inevitable? Here are some recent concepts that may help:

3. Two useful acronyms, one new distinction, and one new ally

3.1. S/L/P [Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View]: The impact/access-barriers

S/L/P tolls are the access-barriers, hence the impact-barriers, for researchers and their give-away research. S/L/P is 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 as merely the optional add-on (for this give-away literature only: not for the royalty/fee-based literature!) that it has become, rather than as the obligatory feature it used to be.

Beware of the language of obligatory "value-added," with which the peer-reviewed literature must, by implication, continue to be inextricably wrapped. The only essential service still provided by journal publishers (for this anomalous, author-give-away literature in the PostGutenberg era) is peer review itself.

The rest -- on-paper versions, PDF on-line page images, deluxe online enhancements -- 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 whatsoever, for continuing to hold the refereed research itself hostage to S/L/P tolls and whatever add-ons they happen to pay for.

Beware also of any attempt to trade off S for L or L for P: Pick your poison, all three 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.

3.2. QC/C [Quality-Control & Certification]: peer review

Peer review itself is not a deluxe add-on for research and researchers: This quality-control service and its certification (QC/C) is an essential. Without QC/C, the research literature would be neither reliable nor navigable, its quality uncontrolled, unfiltered, un-sign-posted, unknown, unaccountable, unusable.

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 QC/C cost is that of implementing the peer review, not actually performing it.

Estimates (e.g., Odlyzko 1998) as well as the real experience of online-only journals (e.g., Journal of High Energy Physics; Psycoloquy have shown that the QC/C implementation cost is quite low -- about 10% 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 annually per article in S/L/P tolls .

Once the 90% S/L/P add-ons become optional, the essential 10% QC/C cost could easily be paid out of the 100% S/L/P savings -- if ever the world's libraries decide they no longer need the add-ons. (The other 90% savings can be used to buy other things, e.g., books, which are not, and never will be, author give-aways.)

3.3. Separating (i) QC/C service-provision from (ii) eprint access-provision (and from (iii) optional add-ons)

Researchers need not and should not wait until journal publishers voluntarily decide to separate the provision of the essential QC/C 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: Access to the eprints of their refereed research is then immediately freed of all S/L/P barriers, forever.

3.4. Interoperability: The Open Archive initiative (Oai)

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:

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 and the Cross Archive Searching Service, providing seamless access to all the eprints, across all the Eprint Archives, as if they were all in one global, virtual archive.

4. The Subversive Proposal

4.1 Enough to free the entire refereed corpus, forever, immediately:

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.

i.  Universities install and register OAI-compliant Eprint Archives (

The Eprints software is free and will be open-sourced. 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: Eprints Archives are all interoperable with one another and can hence be harvested and searched (e.g., as if they were all in one global "virtual" archive of the entire research literature, both pre- and post-refereeing.

ii.  Authors self-archive their pre-refereeing preprints and post-refereeing postprints in their own university's Eprint Archives.

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.

iii.  Universities subsidize a first start-up wave of self-archiving by proxy where needed.

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 once its benefits have become palpable.

iv.  The Give-Away corpus is freed from all access/impact barriers on-line.

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.

4.2 Hypothetical Sequel:

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 S/L/P 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 the freeing of the literature by author/institution self-archiving. This is what those changes might be:

v.  Users will prefer the free version?

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 S/L/P-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 S/L/P options (on-paper version, publisher's on-line PDF, deluxe enhancements) even though most users use the free versions. Nothing hangs on this.

vi.  Publisher S/L/P revenues shrink, Library S/L/P savings grow?

But if researchers do prefer to use the free online literature, it is possible that libraries may begin to cancel journals, and as their S/L/P savings grow, journal publisher S/L/P revenues will shrink. The extent of the cancellation will depend on the extent to which there remains a market for the S/L/P-based add-ons, and for how long.

If the S/L/P market stays large enough, nothing else need change.

vii.  Publishers downsize to providers of QC/C service+ optional add-ons products?

It will depend entirely on the size of the remaining market for the S/L/P options whether and to what extent journal publishers will have to down-size to providing only the essentials: The only essential, indispensable service is QC/C.

viii.  QC/C service costs funded by author-institution out of reader-institution S/L/P savings?

If publishers can continue to cover costs and make a decent profit from the S/L/P-based optional add-ons market, without needing to down-size to QC/C provision alone, nothing much changes.

But if publishers do need to abandon providing the S/L/P products and to scale down instead to providing only the QC/C service, then universities, having saved 100% of their annual S/L/P budgets, will have plenty of annual windfall savings from which to pay for their own researchers' continuing (and essential) annual journal-submission QC/C costs (10%); the rest of their savings (90%) they can spend as they like (e.g., on books -- plus a bit for Eprint Archive maintenance).

5. PostGutenberg Copyright Concerns

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 give-away corpus, which it does not fit.)

The following digital copyright concerns are relevant to the non-give-away literature only:

5.1. Protecting Intellectual Property (royalties)

This is as much of a concern to authors of books as to authors of screenplays, music, and computer software. 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-blockage of any kind.

5.2. Allowing Fair Use (user issue)

"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; in general, 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.

5.3. Preventing Theft of Text (piracy)

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!)

The following digital copyright concern is relevant to all literature, both give-away and non-give-away:

5.4. Preventing Theft of Authorship (plagiarism)

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 pretext of "protecting" it from theft-of-authorship. (Unfortunately, many journal publishers try to formulate and use their copyright transfer agreements for precisely this purpose, and authors need to become aware of it.)

The following digital copyright concern is relevant to the give-away literature only:

5.5. Guaranteeing Author Give-Away Rights

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!)

Well, there is no 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.

6. How to get around restrictive copyright legally

("Harnad/Oppenheim strategy")

6.1. Self-archive the pre-refereeing preprint

Self-archiving the preprint is the critical first step. Before it has even been submitted to a journal, your intellectual property is your own, and not bound by any future copyright transfer agreement. So archive the preprints (as physicists have done for 10 years now, with over 150000 papers, and cognitive scientists have done for 3 years now, with over 1000 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, exactly as the authors of the 150,000 papers in the Physics Archive have been doing for 10 years now. The "Ingelfinger Rule" is under review by journals in any case; Nature has already dropped it, and there are indications that Science may soon follow suit too.]

6.2. Submit the preprint for refereeing (revise etc.)

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.

6.3. At acceptance, try to fix the copyright transfer agreement to allow self-archiving

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 (  
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 distribute it for free for scholarly/scientific purposes, in particular, the right to self-archive it publicly online on the Web.

Some publishers (about 10%) already explicitly allow self-archiving of the refereed postprint (e.g., the American Physical Society: Most other publishers (perhaps 70%) will also accept this clause, but only if you explicitly propose it  yourself (they will not formulate it on their own initiative).

6.4. If 6.3 is successful, self-archive the refereed postprint

Hence, for about 80% of journals, once you have done the above, you can go ahead and self-archive your paper.

Some journals (about 20%), 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:

6.5. If 6.3 is unsuccessful, archive the"corrigenda"

Your pre-refereeing preprint has already been 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 "corrigegnda" file, linked to the archived preprint, which simply lists the corrections that the reader may wish to make in order to update the preprint to the refereed, accepted version.

Everyone chuckles at this point, but the reason it is so easy is that this is the author give-away literature. No non-give-away author would ever dream of doing such a thing (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!

7. What you can do now to free the refereed literature online

7.1. Researchers: Self-archive all present, future (& past) papers

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 ( -- with the Cognitive Sciences ( 39 times slower still, and most of the remaining disciplines not even started:

This is why it is hoped that (with the help of the 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 (

As to the past (retrospective) literature: The Harnad/Oppenheim 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 Harnad/Oppenheim 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 it, authors can do for their own work for-free what JSTOR is only able to do for the work of others for-fee.)

7.2. Universities: Install Eprint Archives, mandate them; help in author start-up

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 that all CV entries for refereed journal articles are linked to their archived full-text version in the university's Eprint Archive.

For researchers who profess to be 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 access of their own researchers to the research of others and (ii) the enhanced visibility (Lawrence 2001 )and the resulting enhanced impact of their own research on the research 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 the possible recovery of 90% of their annual serials (S/L/P) 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. Give in order to receive...)

7.3. Libraries: Maintain the University Eprint archives; help in author start-up

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.

Libraries can also facilitate a stable transition through their collective, consortial power (SPARC:, providing leveraged support for publishers who are prepared to commit themselves to a timetable 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 S/L/P savings grow; about 10% of their annual savings will need to be redirected to cover their university's own authors' QC/C charges per paper. The remaining 90% is theirs to use in any way they see fit!

7.4. Students: Stay the course! Surf! The future is optimal, inevitable and yours!

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.

7.5. Publishers: Concede realistically on self-archiving and be prepared to separate essential QC/C service costs (to the author-institution) from optional add-on product costs (to the reader-institution)

Publishers should concede graciously on self-archiving as the American Physical Society (APS) has done and not try to use copyright or embargo policy to prevent or retard it. Such measures are in direct conflict with the interests of research and researchers, they are destined to fail, they can already be legally circumvented, and they only make publishers look bad.

A much better policy is to concede on the optimal and inevitable for research, and plan on the possibility of separating the provision of the essential QC/C service to the author-institution (peer review implementation charges, per paper) from the provision of all other add-on products (e.g., on-paper version, on-line version, other added-values), which should be sold as options, rather than used to try to keep holding the essentials (the refereed final draft) hostage to S/L/P tolls.

There will still be a permanent niche for journal publishers. What remains to be seen is whether that will entail downsizing to QC/C service-provision alone, or whether there will also continue to be a market for S/L/P/-based add-ons even after the refereed drafts are available free through the Eprint Archives.

7.6. Government/Society: Mandate public archiving of public research worldwide

Government and society should support the self-archiving initiative, reminding themselves that most of this giveaway research has been supported by public funds, with that support explicitly conditional on making the research findings public ( In the PostGutenberg Galaxy there is no longer any need for that public accessibility to be blocked by S/L/P toll-barriers.

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 barrier-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 ( So free access to it all will benefit all institutions (Odlyszko 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 freed, 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).

APPENDIX: Some Relevant Chronology and URLs

Psycoloquy (Refereed On-Line-Only Journal) (1989)

"Scholarly Skywriting"  (1990)

Physics Archive (1991)

"PostGutenberg Galaxy" (1991)

"Interactive Publication" (1992)

Self-Archiving ("Subversive") Proposal (1994)

"Tragic Loss" (Odlyzko) (1995)

"Last Writes" (Hibbitts) (1996)

NCSTRL: Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library (1996)

University Provosts' Initiative (1997)

CogPrints: Cognitive Sciences Archive (1998)

Journal of High Energy Physics (Refereed On-Line-Only Journal) (1998)

Science Policy Forum (1998)

American Scientist Forum (1998)

OpCit:Open Citation Linking Project (1999)

E-biomed: Varmus (NIH) Proposal (1999)

Open Archives Initiative (1999)

Cross-Archive Searching Service (2000)

Eprints: Free OAI-compliant Eprint-Archive-creating software (2001)

Harnad Home Pages


Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Hall, W. & Harnad, S. (2000) A usage based analysis of CoRR [A commentary on "CoRR: a Computing Research Repository" by Joseph Y. Halpern] ACM SIGDOC Journal of Computer Documentation.
May 2000.

Duranceau, E. & Harnad, S. (1999) Electronic Journal Forum: Resetting Our Intuition Pumps for the Online-Only Era: A Conversation With Stevan Harnad. Serials Review 25(1): 109-115

Garfield, E., (1955) Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas. Science 122: 108-111

Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 - 343 (reprinted in Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991).

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in the Means of Production of Knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems Review 2 (1): 39 - 53 (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume 2 1992; and in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last Word. Beach Holme Publishers, 1992; and in: M. Strangelove & D. Kovacs: Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists (A. Okerson, ed), 2nd edition. Washington, DC, Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992); and in Hungarian translation in REPLIKA 1994; and in Japanese in "Research and Development of Scholarly Information Dissemination Systems" 1994-1995.

Harnad, S. (1992) Interactive Publication: Extending American Physical Society's Discipline-Specific Model for Electronic Publishing. Serials Review, Special Issue on Economics Models for Electronic Publishing, pp. 58 - 61.

Harnad, S. (1994) A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O'Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

Harnad, S. (1995a) The PostGutenberg Galaxy: How to Get There From Here. Information Society 11(4) 285-292. Also appeared in: Times Higher Education Supplement. Multimedia. P. vi. 12 May 1995

Harnad, S. (1995b) Sorting the Esoterica from the Exoterica: There's Plenty of Room in Cyberspace: Response to Fuller. Information Society 11(4) 305-324. Also appeared in: Times Higher Education Supplement. Multimedia. P. vi 9 June 1995

Harnad, S. (1995c) Interactive Cognition: Exploring the Potential of Electronic Quote/Commenting. In: B. Gorayska & J. L. Mey (Eds.) Cognitive Technology: In Search of a Humane Interface. Elsevier P. 397-414.

Harnad, S. (1995d) Electronic Scholarly Publication: Quo Vadis? Serials Review 21(1) 70-72 (Reprinted in Managing Information 2(3) 1995).

Harnad, S. (1996) Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals. In: Peek, R. & Newby, G. (Eds.) Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Pp 103-108.

Harnad, S. (1997a) How to Fast-Forward Serials to the Inevitable and the Optimal for Scholars and Scientists. Serials Librarian 30: 73-81.
(Reprinted in C. Christiansen & C. Leatham, Eds. Pioneering New Serials Frontiers: From Petroglyphs to CyberSerials. NY: Haworth Press, and in French translation as Comment Accelerer l'Ineluctable Evolution des Revues Erudites vers la Solution Optimale pour les Chercheurs et la Recherche

Harnad, S (1997b) The Paper House of Cards (And Why It is Taking So Long to Collapse). Ariadne 8: 6-7.   Longer version

Harnad, S. (1997c) Learned Inquiry and the Net: The Role of Peer Review, Peer Commentary and Copyright. Learned Publishing 11(4) 283-292. Short version appeared in 1997 in Antiquity 71: 1042-1048. Excerpts also appeared in the University of Toronto Bulletin: 51(6) P. 12.

Harnad, S. (1998a) For Whom the Gate Tolls? Free the Online-Only Refereed Literature. American Scientist Forum.

Harnad, S. (1998b) On-Line Journals and Financial Fire-Walls. Nature 395(6698): 127-128

Harnad, S. (1998/2000) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998)
Longer version in Exploit Interactive 5 (2000):

Harnad, S. (1999a) The Future of Scholarly Skywriting. In: Scammell, A. (Ed.) "i in the Sky: Visions of the information future" Aslib, November 1999

Harnad, S. (1999b) Free at Last: The Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals. D-Lib Magazine 5(12) December 1999

Harnad, S. (1999c) Advancing Science By Self-Archiving Refereed Research. Science dEbates [online] 31 July 1999.

Harnad, S. (2000a) E-Knowledge: Freeing the Refereed Journal Corpus Online. Computer Law & Security Report 16(2) 78-87. [Rebuttal to Bloom Editorial in Science and Relman Editorial in New England Journal of Medicine]

Harnad, S. (2000b) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in the Future of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. The Lancet Perspectives 256 (December Supplement): s16.

Harnad, S., Carr, L. & Brody, T. (2001) How and Why To Free All Refereed Research
From Access- and Impact-Barriers Online, Now.

Harnad, S. (2001) AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late. Science dEbates [online] 2 April 2001.
Fuller version:

Harnad, S. (2001) The Self-Archiving Initiative. Nature 410: 1024-1025
Nature WebDebatesversion:
Fuller version:

Harnad, S. (2001) The Self-Archiving Alternative. Nature WebDebates

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

Harnad, S. (2001) Research Access, Impact and Assessment. Times Higher Education Supplement.

Harnad, S. & Carr, L. (2000) Integrating, Navigating and Analyzing Eprint Archives Through Open Citation Linking (the OpCit Project). Current Science 79(5): 629-638.

Harnad, S. & Hemus, M. (1997) All or None: there Are No Stable Hybrid or Half-Way Solutions for Launching the Learned Periodical Literature in the PostGutenberg Galaxy In Butterworth, I. (Ed.) The Impact of Electronic Publishing on the Academic Community. London: Portland Press.

Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic publishing in the online era: What Will Be For-Fee And What Will Be For-Free? Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)

Hayes, P., Harnad, S., Perlis, D. & Block, N. (1992) Virtual Symposium on Virtual Mind. Minds and Machines 2(3) 217-238.

Hitchcock, S. Carr, L., Jiao, Z., Bergmark, D., Hall, W., Lagoze, C. & Harnad, S. (2000) Developing services for open eprint archives: globalisation, integration and the impact of links. Proceedings of the 5th ACM Conference on Digital Libraries. San Antonio Texas June 2000.

Lawrence, S. (2001) Online or Invisible? Nature 411 (6837): 521.

Light, P., Light, V., Nesbitt, E. & Harnad, S. (2000) Up for Debate: CMC as a support for course related discussion in a campus university setting. In R. Joiner (Ed) Rethinking Collaborative Learning. London: Routledge (in press).

Odlyzko, A.M. (1998) The economics of electronic journals. In: Ekman R. and Quandt, R. (Eds) Technology and Scholarly Communication. Univ. Calif. Press, 1998.

Odlyzko, A.M. (1999a) Competition and cooperation: Libraries and publishers in the transition to electronic scholarly journals, A. M. Odlyzko. Journal of Electronic Publishing 4(4) (June 1999) and in J. Scholarly Publishing 30(4) (July 1999), pp. 163-185. The definitive version to appear in The Transition from Paper: A Vision of Scientific Communication in 2020, S. Berry and A. Moffat, eds., Springer, 2000.

Odlyzko, A.M. (1999b) The rapid evolution of scholarly communication," to appear in
the proceedings of the 1999 PEAK conference.

Oppenheim, C. (2001) The legal and regulatory environment for electronic information. Infonortics.