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Re: Random thoughts on scholarly communication

No need to throw ordure, as you put it, on your thesis. The point is that
the access status and the ownership status of a document are not
equivalent.  Scholarly papers may be in open access, but hard to use
because they require training, or equipment, or bandwidth, or technical
knowhow, to be used, etc..  This does not affect the ownership status in
anyway: the same document can still be in totally open access and still
owned by its authors, or it can be placed in the public domain, or a
company can get hold of it and decide to place it in open access, or to
lock it up behind a high price barrier, etc.

Because research is largely financed by public money, it is quite normal
to imagine that its results might be construed as being a public good and
treated accordingly.

Perhaps commercial publishers should be limited to publishing research
results emanating from private labs that receive no public money. That
might clarify the issues quite a bit, incidentally.

As a scholar, my aim is to be read as widely as possible and be cited as
often as possible, preferably by colleagues. If a librarian is telling me
that he has some ideas as to improve the present situation so as to make
me read more widely without losing status, prestige or authority, I will
not dismiss that librarian; I will, on the contrary, listen to her or him
with some degree of gratitude.

That the librarian's agenda is not identical to the scholar's is obvious;
if they were, librarians would be scholars and vice-versa. No one disputes
some divergence between these two viewpoints. However, one element remains
very clear: librarians and scholars converge far more than do scholars and

Jean-Claude Gu�don

On Tue June 1 2004 01:28 am, Anthony Watkinson wrote:
> I do find that what Colin writes is (as usual) thought provoking and I
> agree with much of his analysis but I am puzzled by his emphasis on
> "public good". Scholarly communication is about communication between
> scholars. Scholarly publication is the formal part of scholarly
> communication (or at least part of the formal part) and involves scholars
> writing messages to one another and to scholars in the future, which are
> composed in such a way that very few members of the public can understand
> these messages. It is not the purpose of this exercise.
> Scholars know this. The CIBER survey (mentioned by Colin) uses the term
> narrowcasting in commenting on the results from one of the questions
> specifically aimed at elucidating this point. The URL for this survey
> seems to be moving around but currently I can reach it at
> http://ciber.soi.city.ac.uk/ciber-pa-report.pdf. I would guess that most
> scholars are keen on the "public" understanding what they are doing but
> this is a different business from scholarly communication. It requires
> explanation and interpretation and there is more of this about than there
> once was - at least that it my impression.
> To my mind the "public good" is best served if scholars are allowed to get
> on with their scholarship and not have "solutions" foisted on them by
> those who serve them and facilitate what they are doing. If you asked
> almost any scholar I am certain that they would rather librarians spent
> their money on materials than on educating them. Does anyone disagree?
> I know that I shall have ordure heaped on my head when I suggest (as I do)
> that the purpose of the journal as we know it is not to give access to the
> general public and that there is no moral imperative (as Colin seems to
> assume without question) to provide this access.
> Anthony Watkinson