No subject

Peter Suber peters at
Mon Jun 17 08:43:17 EST 2002

The only point on which we differ is whether it will be easy or difficult 
for Scirus users to figure out how to get free access to the articles in 
the search results which are in fact freely available elsewhere.  I suspect 
it will be difficult.  Users like you who know that much of this literature 
is already free and know how to find it will know what alternatives to try 
when you hit a financial barrier.  But I suspect that most Scirus users 
will hit the financial barrier and either pay, ask their institutions to 
pay, or turn away frustrated.

I agree that when Scirus users are authors of open-access articles, they 
will see the unjustified financial barrier between their articles and 
readers.  But for the ordinary Scirus user, simply looking for research on 
a given topic, Scirus will successfully give the impression that all the 
articles in a return set are pay-per-view.  This may frustrate users, and 
build demand for FOS, but it can't lead many users to look for free 
editions when most users have no reason to believe that free editions even 

Just one clarification of earlier point.  Google is (and deserves to be) 
the tool of first choice for most searching needs.  For that reason, users 
have come to rely on it.  To the extent of this reliance, what isn't in 
Google isn't visible.  My speculation was that Scirus is trying to become 
the Google of science.  I don't think it has succeeded, but I do believe 
that its success would be harmful to FOS, especially if most users can't 
see past the Scirus toll-gate.  Hence, we should not help it succeed by 
letting it index open-access texts, become more comprehensive, and hence 
more useful and inviting to users.



Harnad, S. (1997) How to Fast-Forward Serials to the Inevitable and the
Optimal for Scholars and Scientists. Serials Librarian 30: 73-81. 

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

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):

Discussion can be posted to:
    september98-forum at 

See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

and the Free Online Scholarship Movement:

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