Letters to the Editor
First Monday

Letters to the Editor

From: Stevan Harnad
To: AmSci Forum
CC: Edward J. Valauskas, Chief Editor, First Monday
Subject: Re: Archivangelism
Date: 7 Aug 2004 19:30:55

Just three small but important points about Joseph Esposito’s essay in First Monday: "The devil you don’t know: The unexpected future of Open Access publishing" http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_8/esposito/

> Harnad is careful not to drag non–research publications... into the OA fray

This is correct. The primary target literature for OA is not the "esoteric" literature, as I first inchoately thought 10 years ago: http://www.arl.org/scomm/subversive/toc.html

It is the author give–away literature, written by authors only for impact, not for royalty income or fee income:

And the one literature that fits this description without a single exception is the 2.5 million annual articles published in the world’s 24,000 peer–reviewed journals. *That* is the literature that the "OA fray" is about, and the reason is that until it is made 100% OA, its authors and articles continue to lose research impact, needlessly, at a cost to them, their institutions, their funders, and to research itself.

> Harnad’s self–archiving strategy does not mandate peer review.

How can a strategy for self–archiving peer–reviewed journal articles "mandate" peer review?

It is for the employers and funders of researchers to mandate peer–reviewed publication (and they do), and for peer–reviewed journals to provide it (and they do). What needs to be mandated now is self–archiving itself (and the US House Appropriations Committee as well as the UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee have very recently recommended exactly that:

Self–archiving is intended to provide OA to 100% of the annual 2.5 million peer–reviewed journal articles, in order to maximize their usage and impact. It is a good idea to self–archive research before and after peer–review, but not *instead*! And self–archiving is not primarily preprint self–archiving but postprint self–archiving. It is providing OA to the refereed version that is the fundamental goal of the OA movement, for 100% of the annual 2.5 million articles.

> For purposes of this essay, the importance of Harnadian self–archiving is that it belongs to the author–pays OA universe:

There is no "Harnadian" self–archiving, there is just self–archiving (of each author’s own peer–reviewed journal articles, after, and, optionally also before, peer review). This certainly does not belong to the "author–pays OA universe" in the sense that the other road to OA — publishing in OA journals — does.

OA journals recover their costs by charging the author–institution instead of the user–institution. I was, and still am, one of the proponents of that cost–recovery model:

Harnad, S. (1995) Electronic Scholarly Publication: Quo Vadis? Serials Review 21 (1) 70–72 (Reprinted in Managing Information 2 (3) 1995)

But publishing in OA journals is the "golden" road to OA, and I have never believed that that road can or will get us to 100% OA anywhere near quickly or surely enough to invest our hopes and efforts in it alone, or even primarily. It is the "green" road of self–archiving that I advocate, and it is erroneous and misleading to describe this road as part of the "author–pays OA Universe". Self–archiving is no more "author–pays" than author web–pages are. The only thing the author pays is a few keystrokes!

Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004) The green and the gold roads to Open Access. Nature Web Focus.

Of the 24,000 peer–reviewed journals, 5% are OA and 95% are non–OA. OA is provided to that 95% by self–archiving them. The peer–review costs are still born by those non–OA journals, and recovered in the usual way: through institutional subscription/license fees.

I am not sure Joseph Esposito understand this green road to OA, or even that where it leads is indeed OA, 100% OA. He seems instead to devote a good deal of imagination to speculating about why on earth 84% of the over 8000 journals surveyed have already given their official "green light" to self–archiving!

I recommend reading the relevant portion of the Self–Archiving FAQ, the "Poisoned Apple" worry:


Stevan Harnad

Letter to the Editor, First Monday
From: Joseph J. Esposito
To: Edward J. Valauskas, Chief Editor, First Monday
Subject: Re: RE: Archivangelism
Date: 7 Aug 2004 17:57:28

Before I respond to the material points in Stevan Harnad’s comments on my essay "The Devil You don’t Know," I wish to remark that I find it tiresome that Harnad is so insistent about dominating all discussion concerning Open Access. Harnad has his own special vocabulary, and he is welcome to use it, but I do not find it to be helpful, as the world of Open Access is so much bigger than Harnad imagines, or bigger than Harnad will allow others to imagine. There is one strand of thinking concerning OA to the effect that the reason we should support it is that it will enhance discussion about matters of importance, but such discussion cannot take place in an environment of bullying and narrowmindedness. It is my understanding that Harnad subscribes to this line of thought, but I prefer to allow Harnad to speak for himself, as he surely will.

Concerning Harnad’s comments I should also mention that during the drafting of the essay, I tried to confirm my understanding of some of Harnad’s views. My attempt took the form of querying a mailgroup on some specific points. The moderator rejected my post, saying that she did not want to turn the list over to a harangue on Harnad’s points of view and recommending that I write Harnad directly, which I did. He never replied.

All this is somewhat exasperating to someone who agrees with Harnad about three–fourths of the time, but, alas, Harnad is the kind of guy who will argue with you even when you agree with him. I am an old–fashioned advocate of civil discourse and do not participate in the Internet equivalent of strident talk radio.

As for the material comments, the primary problem here is the same as always with Harnad: his insistence that OA can only refer to his brand of OA. He rejects the idea that he has his own variety of OA (what I call "Harnadian Open Access") because, after all, there is only one kind and there is thus no reason to differentiate between the various types. If there is only one kind of facial tissue, there is no point in calling anything Kleenex. This is simply wrong. There are many, many different notions of what OA is. Some advocates of OA want the end to all forms of copyright. Some people believe that file–sharing of music online is an aspect of OA, some believe that it is simply immoral, not to mention idiotic, for a publisher not to understand that "the Internet changes everything" when it comes to copying and that what is technically feasible must therefore be legally correct — an argument analogous to saying that because I am holding a magnificently engineered pistol, I have a right to commit murder. I personally have received one message from a prominent OA advocate to the effect that my use of the phrase "intellectual property" demonstrates that my brain was under the control of various Dark Forces in league with the devil or, worse, American corporations. So when Harnad writes that "*that* is the literature that the ‘OA fray’ is about," one really has to say, no, that is not it at all. Harnad really should get out more.

It is my view (and reasonable people — and unreasonable ones, too — may disagree) that Harnad's real problem with my article is that it is not his article. I think author self–archiving is a fascinating idea and I applaud Harnad for fighting so vigorously for it. He is a leader, but I do not choose to follow him. There are more things in heaven and earth, and one of them is that people are infinitely creative and that capital provides incentives to channel that creativity. OA is flowering in a multitude of ways, and entrepreneurs will surprise us with their ability to come up with ways to profit from it.

Joseph J. Esposito

Letter to the Editor, First Monday
From: Stevan Harnad
To: Edward J. Valauskas, Chief Editor, First Monday
cc: "Joseph J. Esposito", Ann Okerson
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: RE: Archivangelism
Date: 8 Aug 2004 22:20:33

Dear Edward,

You have my permission to publish the exchange. I would only add the following 5 short points in response to Joseph, which can be included in the published exchange:

(1) I apologize if Joseph sent me queries to which I did not reply. I have no recollection of receiving queries from him to which I did not reply, and I would be happy to reply if he would send them to me again now (e.g., for this exchange.)

(2) Both the term "Open Access" (OA) and its definition were formulated by the drafters of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in early 2002.
I was only one of the drafters of that definition; nor am I the proponent of any "Harnadian" variant of that BOAI definition, though OA as defined by BOAI more or less conforms to what I have been calling by another name ("toll–free, full–text, online access to author–give–away documents") for over 10 years now:

Harnad, Stevan (1995) Universal FTP Archives for Esoteric Science and Scholarship: A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O’Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

(3) I also wish to admit the truth of a shrewd observation Joseph makes, to the effect that I am "the kind of guy who will argue with you even when you agree with him." True, but that is mainly because the information wave–front is always moving ahead, and sometimes someone’s agreement with one’s own prior position brings out unnoticed flaws in it (one’s own prior position, I mean).

Harnad, Stevan (1979) Creative disagreement. The Sciences 19: 18 – 20.

(4) I was not commenting on Joseph’s article as a whole, just a few small points that touched on what I’m working on — and toward.

(5) Online file–sharing of music is not an aspect of OA — unless the one doing the sharing was the one who did the music.

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

Letter to the Editor, First Monday
From: Prashant Sharma
To: Edward J. Valauskas, Chief Editor, First Monday
Subject: input for First Monday
Date: 9 Aug 2004 16:53:26

Hi Edward,

Here’s some info on a project we’ve launched recently here in Nepal. If you think fit, please incorporate it into your very informative and innovative newsletter.

With best regards,


Prashant Sharma
Information Services Programme Officer
Mountain Forum Secretariat
GPO Box 3226
Kathmandu, Nepal

Tel: +977-1-5525313
Fax: +977-1-5524509, 5536747
Email: Prashant Sharma
Web: http://www.mtnforum.org


Dear colleagues and friends,

To the best of our knowledge, the communication model described below, which attempts to foster a dialogue between a well–defined online community and communities at the grassroots has not been implemented anywhere in the world yet. We at the Mountain Forum would welcome any input on work or research in this area.

We are well aware of the various community radio projects such as Kothmale which integrate internet into the work of a community radio station, but attempts to link discrete online and offline communities for mutual benefit is not something that we have heard of before.

The Mountain Forum is a network of networks focused on sustainable mountain development issues and has grown a great deal over the last several years <http://www.mtnforum.org>. The total subscriptions across all the lists we manage currently stands at over 16,000. However, as has been expressed by many members of the community through past feedback exercises, the technology that has allowed us to exist in the first place has also limited us to be in touch with only those people who are literate (especially in the English language), and who have computers and internet connections. This limitation has led us to seek solutions to this problem of inclusiveness (or the lack of it) which will allow us to incorporate voices that are under–represented.

Towards this, the Mountain Forum Secretariat is launching a pilot project in association with the Asia–Pacific Mountain Network (the Asia–Pacific node of the Mountain Forum) and Radio Sagarmatha, which is the oldest independent community broadcasting station of South Asia <http://www.radiosagarmatha.org/>. Radio Sagarmatha reaches out to people at the grassroots level in 8 districts of Nepal. Being a community radio station, the voices of people are consistently brought into the fold of the radio programmes through interviews in the field. Mountain Forum is made up primarily of academics, students, experts, professionals and policy makers across the region and the world.

What we aim to do through this project is to form a bridge between the audience (and participants) of the radio programmes and the Mountain Forum community. This way, we hope to be able to facilitate a dialogue between communities at the grassroots in Nepal and the global and regional communities of the Mountain Forum.

The way this will work is simple.

  1. Radio Sagarmatha staff and Mountain Forum staff will identify potential issues for discussion in collaboration with their respective communities.
  2. These ideas will be posted on MF lists seeking input from subscribers. This input could be in the form of related questions to be asked, information on the issue etc.
  3. MF staff will also search the Online Library of the Mountain Forum to provide further information on the issue to Radio Sagarmatha producers.
  4. Input from MF subscribers and MF staff will be sent to the radio producers to incorporate into their research.
  5. Radio producers will go out into the field and pose questions, and record voices and reactions on the issue. This will happen in the local language.
  6. The programme will then be produced and broadcast in the local language.
  7. Meanwhile, the content of the programme (including the voices of the grassroots people) will be translated and adapted for MF discussion lists and posted (in English).
  8. Mountain Forum discussion list subscribers will be asked to respond to the posting.
  9. Responses of the MF community will be broadcast in the next programme by Radio Sagarmatha.
  10. Other responses from the radio audience will be posted on MF discussion lists.
  11. A summary of the dialogue will be provided on MF discussion lists at the end of this cycle.

In the first phase, we are planning to produce 8–10 such programmes and the tentative date for the first broadcast is 17th of September. Each episode will be of 15 minutes duration and will be broadcast once every week. If this model works, and a true dialogue is established, then we hope to scale it up and take it to the next level.

For more details on this project, please visit <http://www.mtnforum.org/radio/index.htm>

In case you have suggestions, and / or input on this project, please send them as soon as possible to us at: <radio@mtnforum.org>.

With best regards,


Copyright ©2004, First Monday

Copyright ©2004, Stevan Harnad, Joseph J. Esposito, and Prashant Sharma

Letters to the Editor
First Monday, Volume 9, Number 9 - 6 September 2004

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