Frank Hartmann on Thu, 10 May 2001 18:12:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> open access and scholarly publishing

RE: <nettime> Gary Chapman's L.A. Times column, 5/3/01 -- Public Space
> Scientists concerned about the availability of scientific research,
> especially to researchers in poor countries such as Russia and India,
> recently announced a campaign to boycott any online scientific
> journals that charge a fee for accessing published research more than
> 6 months old. The campaign launched by the Public Library of Science
> ( has started a heated debate
> in the scientific community over who should pay for research
> publications.

The printed scientific journals simply became too expensive!
And this is not an issue of some poor eastern european academics who
should get some content for free...
Scholarly protest is based on the idea that knowledge should not be
owned by publishers who pay back only symbolic value to their authors.

I wrote an article on a similar topic for TELEPOLIS (in German only):
which is based on the web-discussion at nature magazin:
and also focusses on the MIT OpenCourseWare' idea.

The most interesting aspect of the discussion is maybe that on the one 
hand, once again technology should solve all the problems, as suggested
by Berners-Lee and his Semantic Web idea
while on the other hand researchers like Stevan Harnad suggest a
real collaborative filtering solution based on the OpenArchive idea
The "Essential PostGutenberg Distinctions" given in this paper are
worth to be read and further discussed.


Below, an excerpt taken from Harnad's text -------------------

"An Anomalous Picture
What is wrong with this Picture?

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 
Napster to 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?)"

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