The Copyright Non-Problem and Self-Archiving

Stevan Harnad harnad at
Tue Jul 13 08:20:36 EST 2004

On Mon, 12 Jul 2004, Ingemar Bohlin wrote:

> Unfortunately... [the] self-archived version of [my] paper is [not] 
> available via the web...  Sage [the publisher], with which I negotiated 
> this issue before signing their copyright transfer form, allows me to 
> self-archive only 50 per cent of the paper.

May I make a practical suggestion? The optimal strategy for an author
wishing to provide Open Access to his research is the following:

(1) Before even submitting the paper to be peer-reviewed and considered
for publication, self-archive the unrefereed preprint. No one but
yourself has any claims on that draft.

(2) After refereeing, revision and acceptance, write to the publisher
indicating that you intend to self-archive the final, refereed draft

(3) Self-archive the postprint.

(4) If there is no reply from the publisher, that is the end of the

(5) If the publisher replies and explicitly requests that you remove
the postprint (and you wish to comply), then remove the postprint and
replace it by a list of the corrections that need to be made to the
self-archived preprint.

    "Perhaps the most sensible default strategy of all is the one
    that the physicists have been successfully practicing since 1991:
    "don't-ask/don't-tell": Simply self-archive your preprint as
    well as your postprint, and wait to see whether the publisher ever
    requests removal. After nearly a decade and a half of practicing this
    default strategy, and a quarter of a million self-archived
    physics papers, not a single paper has yet been removed because
    a publisher requested it. On the contrary, virtually all physics
    journals have since become officially "green" in response to the
    physics community's evident desire and determination to
    enjoy the research benefits of providing open access to
    their own papers by self-archiving them. In contrast, those
    researchers who during that decade and a half have *not* been
    practicing this default strategy have instead needlessly lost
    a decade and a half's worth of cumulative research impact."

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional policy of providing
Open Access to your own research article output, please describe your
policy at:

    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
    american-scientist-open-access-forum at

More information about the Jrnlnote mailing list