From: Harnad, S. (2001) For Whom the Gate
Tolls? How and Why to Free the Refereed Research Literature Online
Through Author/Institution Self-Archiving, Now. http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/documents/disk0/00/00/16/39/index.html
Ciélographie et ciélolexie: Anomalie post-gutenbergienne
et comment la résoudre http://www.text-e.org/conf/index.cfm?ConfText-ID=7
4.1 ENOUGH TO
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 (-24K journals annually)
from its access/impact toll-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 (eg http://www.eprints.org/)
The Eprints software is free and open-source.
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 (eg, http://oaister.umdl.umich.edu/o/oaister/ ) 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
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 subsidise 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 as the objective digitometric
indicators of its effects on citations and useage become available
online (Harnad 2001; Lawrence 2001a, 2001b) (eg, cite-base http://citebase.eprints.org/cgi-bin/search
or ResearchIndex http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/cs).
(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.
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 whatsoevereven
if Universities continue to spend exactly the same amounts on
their access-toll budgets as they do nowthe 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
toll-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 toll-based 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 toll revenues shrink, Library
toll 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 windfall toll savings grow, journal
publisher tollrevenues will shrink. The extent of the cancellation
will depend on the extent to which there remains a market for
the toll-based add-ons, and for how long.
If the toll-access market stays large enough,
nothing else need change.
vii. Publishers downsize to providers of
peer-review service + optional add-ons products?
It will depend entirely on the size of the remaining
market for the toll-based options whether and to what extent journal
publishers will have to down-size to providing only the essentials:
The only essential, indispensable service is peer review.
viii. peer-review service costs funded by
author-institution out of reader-institution toll savings?
If publishers can continue to cover costs and
make a decent profit from the toll-based optional add-ons market,
without needing to down-size to peer-review provision alone, nothing
But if publishers do need to abandon providing
the toll-based products and to scale down instead to providing
only the peer-review service, then universities, having saved
100% of their annual access-toll budgets, will have plenty of
annual windfall savings from which to pay for their own researchers'
continuing (and essential) annual journal-submission peer-review
costs (10-30%); the rest of their savings (70-90 per cent) they
can spend as they like (eg, on booksplus a bit for Eprint