Cortex Journal Self-Archived and Accessible Free Online at Source (fwd)

Stevan Harnad harnad at cogprints.soton.ac.uk
Sun Dec 16 16:37:02 EST 2001



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 19:35:30 +0000
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad at cogprints.soton.ac.uk>
Reply-To: September 1998 American Scientist Forum
     <SEPTEMBER98-FORUM at LISTSERVER.SIGMAXI.ORG>
To: SEPTEMBER98-FORUM at LISTSERVER.SIGMAXI.ORG
Subject: Re: Cortex Journal Self-Archived and Accessible Free Online at Source

On Sat, 15 Dec 2001, Professor S Della Sala wrote:

> I took over the editorship of Cortex from De Renzi a few months ago.
>
> Among the changes that I am implementing, after some struggles with the
> publisher: Cortex will now be accessible free for everybody with no
> delay on the net (http://www.cortex-online.org).
>
> I am writing for two reasons:
>
> First is there any way a journal like Cortex could support the
> Self-Archiving Initiative?
>
> Second, given your efforts and zeal in promoting free access to
> scientific reports, I wonder if you could find the time to write an
> editorial (labelled Viewpoint) for Cortex readers summarising your own
> views on the public library of science, and possibly setting them in
> context presenting the opposite arguments (as mainitained by "Science"
> for instance) and other initiatives such as SPARC.
>
> I am attaching for your perusal our own short editorial introducing the
> initiative.

Dear Professor Della Sala,

First, let me applaud your own personal initiative in support of
free online access to the refereed research literature.

You ask how Cortex can support the Self-Archiving Initiative.

First, in freeing online access to its full-text contents Cortex is,
a fortiori, already supporting the Self-Archiving Initiative, whose
objective is to free online access to the full-text contents of
all 20,000 refereed journals.

There is one further thing Cortex could do, however, and that is to
stipulate explicitly in its copyright transfer agreement that Cortex
authors may self-archive their refereed final drafts publicly online in
their institutional Eprint Archives, and that they are indeed
explicitly encouraged to do so. The reason this would help the
Self-Archiving Initiative over and above the freeing of the access on
the http://www.cortex-online.org website is that it would help to
generalize the effect beyond Cortex itself. If Cortex authors
self-archive their Cortex articles in their institutional Eprint
Archives, they are, eo ipso, (1) extending the ambit of self-archiving,
(2) helping to create and fill their institutional Eprint Archives, (3)
likely to carry over their practise to papers in other journals as well,
and (4) setting an example for others.

The American Physical Society has an exemplary copyright transfer
agreement whose wording could serve as a model for all other journals:

http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/APS/copy_trnsfr.pdf

Cortex and other journals that free online access to their full-text
contents now are of course taking a certain risk; for, although it may
never happen, the free online access could conceivably generate
significant drops in subscription revenues; and if that did happen, it
would be happening in advance of when it happens with other journals --
where the change would be more gradual and global, induced by
author/institution self-archiving rather than direct journal
self-archiving. For if and when significant cancellation does happen
globally -- and again, it may never happen: free-online access may
prove able to co-exist with traditional individual and
institutional fee-based access to the paper version and/or an enhanced
online version -- that will itself generate enough annual windfall
institutional-library savings to fund the transition and downsizing
from paying reader/institution-end subscription fees for incoming papers
to paying author/institution-end peer-review fees for outgoing papers.

All indications so far, however -- including in physics, where free
online access is the most advanced -- are that catastrophic
cancellations are not happening at all. In this respect, however,
Cortex's encouragement of parallel institutional self-archiving by its
authors might be seen, not only as a further contribution to hastening
and spreading free online access, but as an investment in keeping
Cortex in phase with any possible global developments.

I have appended a Viewpoint for Cortex, most of it cut-pasted from other
recent papers. Please let me know if this is what you had in mind. You
will see that I have included some of the above passages in it.

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

---------------------------------------------------------------------

                                  VIEWPOINT
     SIX PROPOSALS FOR FREEING ONLINE ACCESS TO THE REFEREED LITERATURE
                   AND HOW THE CORTEX INITIATIVE CAN HELP

                               Stevan Harnad
               Department of Electronics and Computer Science
                         University of Southampton
                           Highfield, Southampton
                          SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM
                         harnad at cogsci.soton.ac.uk
                   http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/

Roberts et al., in "Building A "GenBank" of the Published Literature"
(http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5512/2318a), argue
compellingly for the following three pleas to publishers and authors:

It is imperative to free the refereed literature online. To achieve this
goal, the following should be done:

     (i) Established journal publishers should give away their journal
     contents online for free. (In the biomedical sciences, they can do
     this by depositing them in PubMedCentral
     http://pubmedcentral.nih.gov/)

     (ii) Authors should only submit their work to journals that agree
     to give their contents away online for free (boycotting those that
     do not).

     (iii) In place of established journals that do not give away their
     contents online for free, new alternative journals (e.g., BioMed
     Central http://www.biomedcentral.com) should be established that
     do.

The goal of freeing the refereed literature online is an entirely valid one,
optimal for science and scholarship, attainable, inevitable, and indeed
already somewhat overdue. But Roberts et al.'s proposed means alas do not
look like the fastest or surest way of attaining that goal -- particularly
as there is a tested and proven alternative means that will attain the very
same goal, without asking or waiting for journals to do anything, and
without asking or waiting for authors to give up anything:

     (a) Apart from a few commendable exceptions, such as Cortex
     (http://www.cortex-online.org), publishers seem unlikely to decide
     pre-emptively to give away their contents online at this time. If
     researchers wait until many or most journals find a reason for
     doing so, it is likely to be a very long wait. (PubMedCentral has
     only about twenty willing journals so far, out of many thousand
     refereed biomedical journals).

     (b) Asking authors to choose which journal to submit their
     research to on the basis of whether or not the journal agrees to
     give away its contents online for free rather than on the basis
     that authors currently use -- journal quality, track-record,
     impact factor -- is again an unreasonable thing to ask, and will
     result in a long, long wait. More important, it is an unnecessary
     thing to ask, as there is already a means for authors to achieve
     precisely the same goal immediately, without having to give up
     anything at all: by self-archiving their refereed articles
     themselves, in interoperable, University Eprint Archives
     (http://www.eprints.org) (Harnad 2001c).

     (c) Creating new alternative journals, without track-records, to
     try to draw away submissions from the noncompliant established
     journals, is another very long uphill path, and again it is not at
     all clear why authors should prefer to take this path, renouncing
     their preferred established journals, when they can have their
     cake and eat it too (through self-archiving).

In an editorial response to Roberts et al.'s article, entitled "Science's
Response: Is a Government Archive the Best Option?"
(http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5512/2318b), AAAS has
announced itself willing to free its contents one year after publication
(see my critique, "AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late"
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/291/5512/2318b).
(The New England Journal of Medicine plans to follow suit, and undoubtedly
other journals will soon do so too.)

In the service of the same objective as that of Roberts et al., Sequeira et
al., in "PubMed Central decides to decentralize"
(http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/index.html) announce a new
policy from PubMedCentral (PMC). PMC already archives the full-text contents
of journals who agree to release them 6-12 months after publication. PMC is
now ready to archive just the metadata from those publishers, with links to
their toll-gated websites, as long as they agree to give away their contents
on their own websites within 6-12 months after publication.

This is another path that is likely to take a very long time to reach its
objective. And even then, can research really be called "free" if it must
wait 6-12 months to be released in each instance? Scientists don't rush to
make their findings public through publication in order to have free access
to them embargoed for 6-12 months (Harnad 2000a, b).

Free access to refereed research a fixed period after publication is better
than no access, but it's too little, too late. And there is no reason the
research community should wait for it. Delayed release is an inadequate
solution for this nonstandard, give-away literature -- which (unlike the
standard, royalty/fee-based literature) was written by its
researcher-authors solely for its research impact and uptake, not for a
share in the access-blocking toll-gate-receipts. Embargoed release is
just as inadequate a solution as lowered subscription/license access-tolls
(http://www.arl.org/sparc/home/index.asp). Lowered access tolls, like delayed
access, are better than nothing, and welcome in the short-term. But
they are neither the long-term solution, nor the optimal one, for
research or researchers.

Currently there are six candidate strategies for freeing the refereed
research literature:

     (1) Authors paying journal publishers for publisher-supplied
     online-offprints, free for all readers)
     (http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/Articles/walker.html)
     is a good solution where it is available, and where the author can
     afford to pay for it, but (i) most journals don't offer it, (ii)
     there will always be authors who cannot afford to pay for it, and
     (iii) authors self-archiving their own eprints accomplishes the
     same outcome, immediately, for everyone, at no expense to authors.
     Electronic offprints for-fee require authors to pay for something
     that they can already do for-free, now (as the authors of 180,000
     physics papers have already done: http://arxiv.org).

     (2) Boycotting journals that do not agree to give away their
     full-text contents online for free
     (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5512/2318a)
     requires authors to give up their established journals of choice
     and to switch to unestablished journals (if they exist), not on
     the basis of their quality or impact, but on the basis of their
     give-away policy. But if authors simply self-archive their papers,
     they can keep publishing in their established journals of choice
     yet still ensure free online access for all readers.

     (3) Library consortial support (e.g. SPARC
     http://www.arl.org/sparc/home/index.asp) for lower-priced journals
     may lower some of the access barriers, but it will not eliminate
     them (instead merely entrenching unnecessary fee-based access
     blockages still more deeply, and raising the risk of establishing
     a permanent click-through oligopoly under a "global site-license").

     (4) Delayed journal give-aways -- 6-to-12 months or more after
     publication
     (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5512/2318b) --
     amount to too little, too late, and further entrench the
     unjustifiable blockage of access to new research until it is not
     new (Harnad 2001a).

     (5) Giving up established journals and peer review altogether, in
     favour of self-archived preprints and post-hoc, ad-lib commentary
     (e.g. http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/427333.html) would put both the
     quality standards and the navigability of research at risk (Harnad
     1998/2000).

     (6) Self-archiving all preprints and postprints can be done
     immediately and will free the refereed literature overnight. The
     only things holding authors back are (groundless and easily
     answered) worries about peer review and copyright
     (http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Tp/resolution.htm#8).

(1) - (5) all require waiting for policy changes and, even once these are
available, all require a needless sacrifice on the part of authors. With (1)
the sacrifice is the needless author offprint expense, with (2) it is the
author's right to submit to their preferred journals, with (3) it is (as
before) the author's potential impact on those potential users who cannot
afford even the lowered access tolls, with (4) it is the impact of the
all-important first 6-12 months after publication, and with (5) the
sacrifice is the quality of the literature itself.

Only (6) asks researchers for no sacrifices at all, and no waiting for any
change in journal policy or price. The only delay factor has been authors'
own relative sluggishness in just going ahead and doing it! Nevertheless,
(6) is well ahead of the other 5 candidates, in terms of the total number of
papers thus freed already, thanks to the lead taken by the physicists. It is
now time to generalize this to all the other disciplines:

                        The Self-Archiving Initiative

     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
     http://www.ulrichsweb.com/ulrichsweb/) 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
     (http://www.eprints.org).

               The Eprints software
               http://www.arl.org/sparc/core/index.asp?page=g20#6 is free
               and is being 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: http://www.openarchives.org/. Eprints Archives are
               all interoperable with one another and can hence be harvested
               and searched (e.g., http://arc.cs.odu.edu/) 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.


                                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).

Cortex, in freeing online access to its full-text contents, is, a fortiori,
already supporting the Self-Archiving Initiative, whose objective is to free
online access to the full-text contents of all 20,000 refereed journals.

There is one further thing Cortex could do, however, and that is to
stipulate explicitly in its copyright transfer agreement that Cortex authors
may self-archive their refereed final drafts publicly in their institutional
Eprint Archives, and that they are indeed explicitly encouraged to do so.
The reason this would help the Self-Archiving Initiative, over and above the
freeing of the access on the http://www.cortex-online.org website, is that
it would help to generalize the effect beyond Cortex itself. If Cortex
authors self-archive their Cortex articles in their institutional Eprint
Archives, they are, eo ipso, (1) extending the ambit of self-archiving, (2)
helping to create and fill their institutional Eprint Archives, (3) likely
to carry over their practise to papers in other journals as well, and (4)
setting an example for others.

The American Physical Society has an exemplary copyright transfer agreement
whose wording could serve as a model for all other journals:

http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/APS/copy_trnsfr.pdf

Cortex and other journals that free online access to their full-text
contents now are of course taking a certain risk; for, although it may never
happen, the free online access could conceivably generate significant drops
in subscription revenues; and if that did happen, it would be happening in
advance of when it happens with other journals -- where the change would be
more gradual and global, as induced and paced by author/institution
self-archiving rather than direct journal self-archiving. For if and when
significant cancellation does happen globally -- and again, it may never
happen: free-online access may prove able to co-exist with traditional
individual and institutional fee-based access to the paper version
and/or an enhanced online version -- that will itself generate enough
annual windfall institutional-library savings to fund the transition
and downsizing from paying reader/institution-end subscription fees for
incoming papers to paying author/institution-end peer-review fees for
outgoing papers.

All indications so far, however -- including in physics, where free online
access is the most advanced -- are that catastrophic
cancellations are not happening at all. In this respect, however, Cortex's
encouragement of parallel institutional self-archiving by its authors might
be seen, not only as a further contribution to hastening and spreading free
online access, but also as an investment in keeping Cortex in phase with any
possible global developments.

References

Harnad, S. (1998/2000) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5
Nov. 1998)
http://helix.nature.com/webmatters/invisible/invisible.html
Longer version in Exploit Interactive 5 (2000):
http://www.exploit-lib.org/issue5/peer-review/
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/nature2.html

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 Journalof Medicine]
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Papers/Harnad/harnad00.scinejm.htm

Harnad, S. (2000b) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in the Future
of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. Lancet Perspectives 256 (December
Supplement): s16.
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Papers/Harnad/harnad00.lancet.htm

Harnad, S. (2001a) AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late. Science dEbates
[online] 2 April 2001.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/291/5512/2318b
Fuller version:
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Tp/science2.htm

Harnad, S. (2001b) The Self-Archiving Initiative. Nature 410: 1024-1025
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Tp/nature4.htm
Nature WebDebatesversion:
http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/index.html
Fuller version:
http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Tp/selfarch.htm

Harnad, S. (in prep.) For Whom the Gate Tolls? How and Why to Free the
Refereed Research Literature Online Through Author/Institution
Self-Archiving, Now. http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Tp/resolution.htm




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