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Re: US University OA Resolutions Omit Most Important Component

I believe Professor Harnad is winning this war in practice but losing it
on principle.  The principle I am refering to is the idea that all that OA
requires is self-archiving, which is cheap, quick, and easy.  Scholars can
"publish" a paper on a server anywhere and have it indexed by search
engines.  Other scholars can then find the paper.  Voila!  Open Access!  
But this principle has been rejected by most participants in the great OA
debate.  (I happen to agree with Harnad on this, which I will appreciate
everyone remembering when the inevitable attacks come.)  Most participants
want OA to be everything proprietary publishing is and more, except that
it should be free to the end-user.  High-quality editorial boards, peer
review, metadata of all kinds, a clear path to the most appropriate copy,
etc., etc.  For this group the Public Library of Science is something of a
standard-bearer.  PLoS's standards are unimpeachable.  The question is
whether they are achievable beyond a small number of special projects.

But in practice it is a Harnadian world.  Articles appear everywhere.  
Some articles get passed around or posted somewhere in fully authorized
ways (that is, with the approval of the copyright holder), some simply
leak out of their copyrighted containers and find their way around the
Internet as email attachements or Web-accessible posts to mail groups.  I
don't see how this is stoppable.  Indeed, it is a matter of wonder to me
that proprietary publishers are enabling this informal collection to reach
critical mass, but they have their shareholders to answer to, not to me.  
OA is like marijuana in Blue states:  Not the law, but the fact.  Or, to
conjure another extreme metaphor, with OA it's don't ask, don't tell.

It would be my hope that those of us who are partial to empirical science
would concentrate on what is actually happening, which is emergent,
informal Open Access.

Joe Esposito

On 5/5/05, Stevan Harnad <harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:


> That means the immediate problem is *not* an insufficiently reliable and
> universal infrastructure or insufficiently enhanced navigation. It is
> insufficient OA content provision (15%). Hence what is needed, urgently,
> is university *self-archiving policy*, not infrastructural or navigational
> enhancements:
>     http://www.eprints.org/signup/sign.php
>     http://www.eprints.org/berlin3/outcomes.html
> Trust me: No "blend" of the present network of near-empty cupboards will
> create or invite OA content. Only an explicit OA content-provision policy,
> by the content-providing institutions, for their own OA cupboards, will
> generate that missing OA content. Provide the content and the enhancements
> will all follow as a matter of course. Keep fussing instead about
> enhancements, and OA will be delayed yet another needless decade.
> Stevan Harnad