14.0013 electronic publishing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 19:27:32 CUT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group: "14.0016 play: educational software"

                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 13.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 20:22:31 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: Fwd: Re: Economist article + Faustian bargain

    Dear Colleagues:

    I forward the following, with thanks, from the Electronic Journal
    Publishing List, which you may wish to join. It's extracted from an ongoing
    conversation, but the position Stevan Harnad sets forth is sufficiently
    clear to strike sparks here, perhaps to good effect.


    >X-Authentication-Warning: cogito.ecs.soton.ac.uk: harnad owned process doing
    >Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 13:05:18 +0100
    >Reply-To: Stevan Harnad <harnad@COGLIT.ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
    > >From: Stevan Harnad <harnad@COGLIT.ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
    >X-cc: Lib Serials list <SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU>,
    > september98-forum@amsci-forum.amsci.or, Elib List EJ
    > <lis-elib@mailbase.ac.uk>, Birdie MacLennan
    >On Mon, 15 May 2000, Albert Henderson wrote:
    >>ah> on Fri, 12 May 2000 Stevan Harnad <harnad@COGLIT.ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
    >> sh> It is important for sophisticates of this Forum to note that there
    is no
    >> sh> irony whatsoever in the fact that The Economist does not give away its
    >> sh> contents for free on the Web.
    >> sh>
    >> sh> Why should it? Its journalists write the articles for a fee; their
    >> sh> entirely valid objective is to sell, not to give away, their work.
    >> sh>
    >> sh> The WHOLE POINT of the initiative of freeing the refereed journal
    >> sh> literature is that this (trade) model does not fit that anomalous
    >> sh> literature, so fundamentally unlike everything else.
    >> sh>
    >> sh> Researchers are not journalists selling their words, they are
    >> sh> and scholars reporting their findings. Their rewards do not come from
    >> sh> tolls charged for access to their texts; they come from accessing
    >> sh> and making an impact on the minds and the research of other
    >>ah> Not so. Researchers make an economic exchange valued
    >>ah> more than cash, for recognition and dissemination
    >>ah> services that will reach their intended audiences,
    >>ah> present and future.
    >This often-repeated positive correlation has NOTHING to do with
    >causation, indeed, if anything, the real causal relationship is
    >Researchers report their research findings in refereed journals in
    >order to make an "impact" (let us call it) on research and researchers,
    >not (like all other authors) to sell their texts. It is that impact (if
    >any) that then brings them promotion, grants, prizes, renown.
    >It follows that anything that increases that impact is positive for
    >researchers, and anything that decreases that impact hinders is
    >Access-barriers (Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View, S/L/P] decrease
    >impact; let us not debate that. It is incontestable that you can't have
    >an impact on anyone who can't get to your work.
    >That is the real causal picture. The reason there is nevertheless a
    >positive correlation between (1) appearing in a refereed journal and
    >(2) impact is also quite obvious:
    >In the Gutenberg (paper) Era, the only way (and hence, a fortiori, the
    >best way) to make an impact on research and researchers apart from
    >what a researcher could convey by word-of-mouth and writ-of-hand (1-on-1
    >letters) was through print-on-paper. And producing and disseminating
    >print-on-paper was expensive.
    >Hence if those inescapable expenses were to be met (so that the
    >research could be disseminated at all), researchers had to reluctantly
    >acquiesce to S/L/P access-barriers to meet them -- because (in the
    >Gutenberg Era) the negative effects of S/L/P access-barriers on impact
    >were out-weighed by the positive effects of paper dissemination itself
    >(compared to word-of-mouth or writ-of-hand).
    >Albert Henderson writes as if nothing had changed since those days. But
    >we are now in the PostGutenberg Era of Scholarly Skywriting. Research
    >reports can now be publicly disseminated much more widely than by
    >print-on-paper, and at virtually no cost at all, via online
    >open-archiving: http://www.openarchives.org/
    >In this new Era, anything that attempts to constrain this new form of
    >open access is in headlong conflict with impact, and hence with the
    >interests of research and researchers.
    >There is still an essential function that journal publishers perform for
    >researchers, and that is quality-control/certification QC/C (implementing
    >peer review). For it is not the dissemination of their raw findings that
    >researchers seek, and need for impact, but the dissemination of findings
    >that have been certified by the pertinent experts.
    >The dissemination can now be handled by the researchers, but the QC/C
    >cannot; individual researchers cannot police themselves. Hence the real
    >costs of implementing QC/C (implementing only, because referees referee
    >for free) still need to be covered. But the good news is that these
    >QC/C costs are only a fraction of S/L/P costs, so they can easily be
    >covered out of a portion of each institution's annual S/L/P savings.
    >The crucial difference, then, is that S/L/P costs are
    >reader-institution-end costs for a reader-institution-end PRODUCT (the
    >text), hence recovering them depends on erecting reader-access-barriers
    >(= impact-barriers), whereas QC/C costs are author-institution-end
    >costs for an author-institution-end SERVICE (QC/C), hence recovering
    >them does not depend on reader-access-barriers, but rather on
    >dismantling them.
    >The funds will be there to cover QC/C costs many times over once S/L/P
    >barriers are gone. Institutions will be happy to redirect this small
    >portion of their annual windfall savings from S/L/P cancellation to
    >cover all QC/C service charges for their publishing researchers,
    >because their researchers' impact is also their institutions' impact
    >(as reflected in citations, grant-income, prizes, renown: that's why
    >institutions reward them through salaries and promotion).
    >>ah> Publishers bring order out of
    >>ah> chaos, setting standards for quality and objectivity.
    >That is QC/C. No longer any need to hold the paper product hostage to
    >this service via S/L/P access barriers.
    >>ah> They channel information to the readers who may use it.
    >That is the second "C" in QC/C. Again, no necessary connection between
    >it an access barriers in the PostGutenberg Era.
    >>ah> Research papers are not ads. Nothing is "given away"
    >>ah> by either researcher or publisher.
    >They are most definitely given away by their refereed-researcher/authors (no
    >fee, no royalty), unlike all other authors.
    >They are indeed not given away by their publishers, but that is the
    >precise point under discussion here! There is a vast conflict of
    >interest in the PostGutenberg Era, for this (author)-give-away
    >literature. And the conflict all concerns access-barriers and potential
    >(And I did not say research papers ARE ads, but that they are more
    >LIKE ads than they are like the non-giveway literature.)
    >>ah> Thanks to libraries
    >>ah> and librarians, scientific discoveries and theories are
    >>ah> preserved and disseminated for the future, often long
    >>ah> after the authors and publishers have disappeared.
    >In the PostGutenberg Era we are now in, Networked Open Archives will do
    >all of that, just as long, and much better -- and without the
    >access-barriers, thank you very much.
    >> sh> The access-blocking tolls are hence working AGAINST these rewards, not
    >> sh> for them. (Charging for access to their research makes about as much
    >> sh> sense for researchers as charging for access to their ads would make
    >> sh> sense to the advertisers of commercial products.)
    >>ah> Not so. Financial statistics indicate that access was
    >>ah> blocked by university managers. They manufactured the
    >>ah> "serials crisis" by cutting library spending and an
    >>ah> open season on publishers propaganda campaign to shift
    >>ah> the blame. Universities have been hoarding money at the
    >>ah> expense of knowledge assets for 30 years. The average net
    >>ah> profit of private research universities last year climbed
    >>ah> to about 25% of revenues.
    >I will not reply (again) to this oft-repeated conspiracy theory of
    >Albert's. (It's the old refrain "Spend More On Libraries" and all will
    >be well.)
    >I will just say that these PostGutenberg possibilities have nothing to
    >do with the reality or unreality of the "serials crisis."
    >Access-barriers are access-barriers, whether they are high or low. And
    >when there is no longer any need for them at all, there is no longer
    >any justification for them.
    >I have described self-archiving as "subversive" precisely because it
    >is likely to force journal publishers to scale down to the bare
    >essentials (i.e., QC/C service-provision), because readers prefer
    >the free-access, self-archived version of refereed final drafts to the
    >S/L/P alternatives. But as long there still exists a market for the
    >S/L/P version, let it continue to be sold; researchers' needs are
    >served by freeing the refereed literature online. How long the two
    >incarnations of the same literature (for-free and for-fee) co-exist
    >is anyone's guess, and certainly no concern of mind. (But the redirected
    >funds for covering QC/C service costs are always latent in the S/L/P
    >savings, if and when that market collapses.)
    >> sh> The access-blocking tolls are hence working AGAINST these rewards, not
    >> sh> for them. (Charging for access to their research makes about as much
    >> sh> sense for researchers as charging for access to their ads would make
    >> sh> sense to the advertisers of commercial products.)
    >>ah> Not so. Starting with PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS, which
    >>ah> was founded as a for-profit venture by Henry Oldenburg,
    >>ah> journal publishing has been a win-win arrangement for over
    >>ah> 300 years. It is widely supported by researchers and
    >>ah> considered an important source of financial support for
    >>ah> other activities that might include policy positions and
    >>ah> accreditation.
    >Ah me, back to Gutenberg! Those days are over, Albert. (And once the
    >inherent trade-off, and its needlessness in the PostGutenberg Era, is
    >made explicit to them, I am ready to bet that researchers are NOT
    >willing to have the potential impact of their curtailed in the service
    >of subsidizing other "good works" of their Learned Societies.)
    >> sh> In the papyrocentric era, such give-away authors had no choice but
    >> sh> to make the Faustian bargain (with Gutenberg), that in order to defray
    >> sh> the substantial expense of typesetting, printing and distribution,
    >> sh> would reluctantly acquiesce to the levying of access tolls to recover
    >> sh> those costs -- knowing that if they did not acquiesce then there
    would be
    >> sh> nothing at all for researchers to access (beyond what they reported
    >> sh> orally or by writing one-on-one learned letters).
    >>ah> Not so. The Faustian bargain was made when academic
    >>ah> senates gave up control of policy to administrators so
    >>ah> that faculty could be free to pursue intellectual goals.
    >>ah> Unfortunately, the quest for knowledge has been undermined
    >>ah> by the financial priorities and petty ambitions of the
    >>ah> new bureaucracy...
    >Ah me. Nolo contendere. I have deleted the rest of this irrelevant
    >conspiratorial speculation.
    >Forget about bureaucrats' petty ambitions for a moment and focus on an
    >objective that has face-validity: Researchers do research and they want
    >to share their results with other researchers, present and future,
    >freely. There is a way for them to do this now. So let's just do it.
    >Stevan Harnad harnad@cogsci.soton.ac.uk
    >Professor of Cognitive Science harnad@princeton.edu
    >Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
    > Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
    >University of Southampton http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
    >Highfield, Southampton http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/
    >NOTE: A complete archive of this ongoing discussion of providing free
    >access to the refereed journal literature is available at the American
    >Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00):
    > http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html
    >You may join the list at the site above.
    >Discussion can be posted to:
    > september98-forum@amsci-forum.amsci.org

    Dr Willard McCarty / Centre for Computing in the Humanities /
    King's College London / Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    voice: +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / fax: +44 (0)20 7848-2980 /
    maui gratias agere

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue May 16 2000 - 19:42:59 CUT