From an Interview with Dr. Zerhouni about Open Access, Productivity, & Accounting of Research Results

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed Aug 11 19:57:31 EST 2004


> Our correspondent adds this note:  'In the interview Zerhouni confirms
> reports that NIH is already working on a plan for putting all papers
> derived from NIH-funded research into the public domain.  

"Public domain" (as per the ill-fated Sabo Bill?) or just Open Access^
Surely the latter!

    "Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)"
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2977.html

> WASHINGTON FAX
> 
> there should be a way of linking the public's investment with the 
> outcome of the research.

Yes, bravo! How about a link between the funded grant proposal and the
peer-reviewed articles the fundee produced from it? -- and then links
to and tallies of what other articles have used and cited them?

     Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003)
     Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives:
     Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst
     making it cheaper and easier. Ariadne 35 (April 2003).
     http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue35/harnad/

> NIH needs a portfolio analysis capability component, Zerhouni said. Right
> now, "I can't figure out what grants produced what [results]. A scientific
> paper is credited many times over, but I can't figure out what the
> productivity is because I don't have an archive of what the agency does.
> You just can't make the links.  You can't do it," he said.

NIH doesn't need an *archive* for this! The data need to be out there, Open
Access and OAI-compliant, and then the impact information can all be
*harvested*! http://citebase.eprints.org/

> But, "access is not the only value provided" by publishing.  "Access is
> only one value provided" by publishing, Zerhouni elaborated. "Peer review
> is a very important value, and I don't want to lose that," he said.

Neither the gold road to OA (OA Publishing of Peer-Reviewed Journals)
nor the green road to OA (OA Self-Archiving of articles published in
Peer-Reviewed  Journals) involves any tampering with peer review.

This is a red herring (and an old one): http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#7.Peer
It has nothing to do with OA.

> Publishing also serves several needs related to information transfer,
> Zerhouni said. "Interpretation of scientific data is a very important
> value, which is different from the raw data we have," he said.

So, are these interpretations published in peer-reviewed journals? Then
they need to be OA too. Otherwise (e.g., if they are in textbooks),
nolemus contendere.

> Another value of publishing is "information transfer that accentuates ease
> of informing communities of research through associations, societies, or
> just for-profits, for the links between industry and science that are
> supported by these models,"  he said.

And the point is... ?

> "These are all values that are way beyond access. And I don't want to lose
> any of them," he stressed.

They are not at risk. They are not even at issue!

Perhaps this sort of harried/hurried thinking is one of the hazards
of the office for every head of NIH, no matter how well-meaning...:

    http://www.nih.gov/about/director/ebiomed/com0509.htm#harn45

Stevan Harnad





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