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[BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2003 00:10:49 +0100 (BST)

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             [BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule from harnad AT
             [BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule from harnad AT

On Sat, 14 Jun 2003, Richard Stallman wrote:

>>		From: Daniel Wolf
>>		Subject: Closing the 'Digital Divide'
>>		Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 00:14:53 +0200
>>		The most effective way to alter this situation may be
>>		through organizing the scholars who contribute voluntarily
>>		to peer-review.  The prestige of most such journals rests
>>		upon an unpaid peer-review system, so these scholars have the
>>		potential to exercise considerable leverage over journal policy.
>>		Reviewers should be encouraged _not_ to participate unless the
>>		journal expressly allows individual writers to archive their
>>		own work electronically or otherwise.
> What do you think of signing up reviewers to put pressure on journals?

I think it's a fine idea; it will no doubt help hasten open access; it is
already implicit in the open-access movement (since the author population
is exactly the same as the referee population!) -- but there is a far
simpler and more direct way to achieve the same result far more quickly
and probably!

There are two routes to open access to the refereed literature. 
One is to try to persuade the 20,000 refereed journals to convert to
open access, and to create rival open access journals to replace those
that don't.

That is the Budapest Open Access Initiative's Strategy 2, BOAI-2, and
I support it:
but it is a *very* slow and uncertain route to open access, relying as
it does on either persuading the publishers of the 20,000 journals to
convert or founding 20,000 rival journals. There is progress, but if
you quantify and extrapolate the BOAI-2 growth curve, you will find that
this route is going to take an awfully long time (there are about 500
open-access journals so far -- --) if it ever gets
us there at all. (We've learned that circulating and signing petitions
and threats to boycott is easy, but actual actions are not, and few...)

The second route to open access is not just to try to persuade authors
(or referees) to try to persuade their publishers to do it (or to
found alternative journals if they don't, and then persuade authors to
submit to those instead). The far more direct route is to get authors
to self-archive their *own* refereed papers, thereby making them openly
accessible to all would-be users whose institutions cannot afford the
access-tolls for the publishers' version.

The growth of open access by this route (BOAI-1)
is already a good deal faster currently than via BOAI-2, but still far
from fast enough. (There are 2,000,000 papers published a year, and *all*
need to be self-archived, yesterday!) But BOAI-1 has the advantage of
being far more direct. In principle, it could be done overnight. The
only ones who need to be persuaded are the authors. For BOAI-2, it is not
enough to convince the authors; then the publishers need to be convinced;
and rival journals need to be founded for those journals that are not
convinced; and then authors need to be re-convinced to submit to those
journals instead of their established journals.

There are many, many links in that chain. I am investing all my own
efforts and energy instead into convincing authors, directly,
that self-archiving, right now, will maximize their own research
impact (usage, citation), on which both their salaries and their
research funding (not to mention their contributions to knowledge)

The effect will be the same: Open access to the refereed literature --
and perhaps eventually providing a much stronger incentive to publishers
(to cut obsolete costs and products, and downsize to the essentials,
offloading everything but refereeing onto institutional self-archiving,
and converting to open-access publishing) than appeals from authors and
referees who do not even feel strongly enough about open access to make
their *own* work openly accessible, by self-archiving it! That sounds like
a pretty hollow appeal, and unconvincing "leverage" to me! Let us 
show that we have the strength of our convictions about open access for
the the portion of the refereed literature that is within our own direct
control. It seems rather presumptuous to be asking publishers to take
risks and make sacrifices for our sake, until we show that we ourselves
are prepared to take this small, simple self-help step ourselves.

I am convinced self-archiving is the fastest and surest path to universal
open access. I just have to persuade authors too, that it is

"Self-Archive Unto Others as Ye Would Have them Self-Archive Unto


Stevan Harnad

[BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2003 00:13:50 +0100 (BST)

Threading: [BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule from harnad AT
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On Sat, 14 Jun 2003, Daniel Wolf wrote:

> I agree entirely with the self-archiving idea; unfortunately, it appears
> that some (if not many or most) commercially-published journals will 
> to even consider an article if it is already available in _any_ form. It 
> for that reason that I believe it necessary to use the leverage of the
> reviewing community to insist that journals should either change such
> best regards,

You are referring to the Ingelfinger Rule. No need to be concerned about
it. In fact, few journals ever had the Rule, and of those that did,
most are dropping it. Nature has already dropped it; so has the American
Psychological Association; Science soon will; the American Physical
Society never had it. I suspect that the American Chemical Society will
be among the die-hards, but the last journal to shut the door behind
it will be the New England Journal of Medicine, whose former Editor,
Franz Ingelfinger, was the one who formulated the Rule:

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role
    of the Web in the Future of Refereed Medical Journal
    Publishing. Lancet Perspectives 256 (December Supplement): s16.

    Harnad, S. (2000) E-Knowledge: Freeing the Refereed Journal Corpus
    Online. Computer Law & Security Report 16(2) 78-87. [Rebuttal to Bloom
    Editorial in Science and Relman Editorial in New England Journal of

It's important to understand two things about the Ingelfinger Rule.

(1) The Ingelfinger Rule is neither a copyright nor a legal matter; it is
merely a journal submission policy: "We will not referee or publish any
text that has been previously been made publicly available in any form."

(2) Not only is the Ingelfinger Rule not a legal matter, but it is also
not enforceable, nor can it even be given a coherent interpretation,
as it is poised on a slippery slope: Does circulating paper preprints
count as making publicly available? (How many?) Does presenting it at a
scientific conference? How about earlier drafts? How different do they
have to be to *not* be a violation of the Ingelfinger Rule?

As most journals don't even purport to have the Ingelfinger Rule,
and those that do cannot enforce it, the best policy on the part of
authors is to ignore it, as all self-archivers have been doing for
over a decade. Self-archiving needs to be accelerated substantially,
but it is certain that it is *not* the Ingelfinger Rule that is holding
self-archiving back! It is author unawareness of the strong and direct
causal connection between access and impact:

Hence what is needed is not authors and referees crusading against
the Ingelfinger Rule, but *for* immediate, universal, self-archiving!

Stevan Harnad

[BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 14:36:00 +0100 (BST)

Threading: [BOAI] Re: Copyright, Embargo, and the Ingelfinger Rule from harnad AT
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On Mon, 16 Jun 2003, Fytton Rowland wrote:

> >sh> the author population is exactly the same as the referee
> >sh> population
> That statement is untrue. Not all authors referee, either for one
> particular journal, or at all. Remove "exactly" and replace it 
> "substantially" and it might become true.  

Fytton is quite right. And this also leaves the point I was making
substantially true: Authors and referees are substantially the same
population, so if referees make appeal X to journal publishers then it
is substantially the same people making appeal X if the referees add
their voices (mutatis mutandis for a few journals).

This does not at all mean that it is not a good idea to make the research
community's wishes known to journal publishers, whether they are wearing
their authors' hats, their referees' hats or their readers' hats. My
points were these:

(1) Insofar as the right to self-archive preprints and/or postprints is
concerned, there is no longer any substantial obstacle. 55% of journals
officially support it already; most of the rest will agree on an
individual article basis if asked; and for the few that do not, there
remains the preprint+corrigenda option:
That was also the very ecumenical sense at the STM publishers' meeting
in Amsterdam:

So, insofar as self-archiving is concerned, the publishers do not
appear to be what is slowing us up! What effort we choose to devote to
open-access is hence far better devoted to actually self-archiving our
own work, rather than appealing to publishers (as authors or referees or
readers) to allow their authors to do it: They already allow it. 

(Having self-archived one's own work, however, if there is some more
time one wishes to contribute to open access as author or referee
[or reader], it would of course be very helpful if the commitment of
those publishers who already support self-archiving were reinforced by
an expression of appreciation, and if publishers not yet supporting it
were strongly encouraged to fall in step with the majority on this issue
that is so important to the research community and to research itself).

(2) My second (and longer) point was that expressions of the research
community's desire for open access (whether expressed wearing their
author's, referee's, or reader's hats) will have substantially more
credibility if they are voiced to publishers *after* the research
community has taken the obvious self-help steps that are already within
its own power, namely, self-archiving their own research. Asking
publishers to take risks or make sacrifices for the sake of open
access on our behalf is less convincing if we have not even taken the
available no-risk, no-sacrifice steps for the sake of open access that
are already open to us. (Publishers would otherwise be quite justified in
concluding that, in that case, we are not really all that serious about
open access: ready to sign petitions, but nothing more.)

> This statement has much in common with the frequently made one that, for
> any given journal, the authors and the readers are the same people.  That
> isn't true either - there are students, schoolteachers and practitioners
> who read the scholarly literature but do not contribute to it.

I completely agree about that too -- but it is also why I stress authors
and referees (i.e., researchers) rather than readers in all arguments
for open access. The unique and uncontestable rationale for open access
to refereed research is that it is for the sake of the research *impact*:
that means the degree to which research is read, used, applied and cited
by other researchers, pure and applied. It is research impact that
rewards research funders, and the employers of researchers, and the
researchers themselves.

Yes, being read by students, teachers, practitioners, and the
general public is very welcome and desirable too (and download impact
will soon be added to the battery of new research impact
measures and new
online measures of "teaching impact" will no doubt also be
designed and used to reward online courseware productivity: ) but it
will always remain true that the primary targets of refereed research
publication are researchers -- i.e., authors and referees, and not merely
readers in general.

It is precisely for this reason that refereed research is and has always
been an author give-away, not written for royalties or fees, but for
research impact. It is precisely for this reason that toll-barriers,
being impact-barriers, are so counterproductive and undesirable for
research and researchers, and why open access is so beneficial and

    Harnad, S., Varian, H. & Parks, R. (2000) Academic
    publishing in the online era: What Will Be For-Fee And
    What Will Be For-Free? Culture Machine 2 (Online Journal)

If the appeal for open access were simply based on the desire
of maximizing readership, *all* authors would want to give their writing
away -- but they do not, because most are *not* writing primarily for
research impact. Nor is a reader-based appeal for open access (from
students, teachers, and the general public) a very persuasive rationale
for open access, considering that those readers would welcome just as
fervently open access to *all* writing -- books, textbooks, magazines.
The unique and specific rationale for open-access to refereed research
output -- which is that it is written purely for the sake of research
impact, not sales revenue -- would be lost, if it were conflated with 
and diluted by a generalized consumer appeal for a free product.

Stevan Harnad

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