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RE: Scholarly Publishing Groups Issue White Paper on

Chris Armbuster quotes Robert Merton, the respected sociologist 
of science (and incidentally the inventor of the focus group) in 
his most recent post.

Merton famously proposed a number of norms for scientific 

*Universalism: new work is assessed by universal impersonal 

*Communality: scientific knowledge should be common property

*Disinterestedness: prime concern is the advancement of knowledge

*Organized scepticism: knowledge should be continually subjected 
to critical scrutiny

These fairly accurately reflect the belief sets common in grand 
old establishment scientists of Merton's day and possibly today.

Unfortunately they do not reflect actual scholarly behaviour, 
then or now.

The data for this are very numerous and correspond to the 
"I-thou" problem in the dichotomies of author-reader behaviour: 
for example, "I as a reader want to see your raw data and lab 
books" yet the same person as an author is most unwilling to do 
this until the potential for publications and credit has been 
exhausted (thereby breaking two of the Norms already). 
Researchers may say they believe in Merton's Norms but don't act 
like it. An exercise I set for my graduate students is to read 
James Watson's The Double Helix and try to find examples of any 
of Merton's Norms being exemplified by Watson, Crick or their 
colleagues and collaborators.

We are only as good as the last set of data, and unfortunately 
Merton's otherwise excellent writings do not always stand up to 
this test.


Michael A Mabe (with my scientometrics hat on)

Chief Executive Officer
International Association of STM Publishers
E-mail: mabe@stm-assoc.org
Web:   www.stm-assoc.org

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Armbruster,
Sent: 18 May 2007 23:57
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Scholarly Publishing Groups Issue White Paper on

For Michael Mabe and this list I have the following quotation 
from Robert K. Merton, which goes way back to 1942 and his 
thoughts on the norms of science and the compatibility of science 
and democracy:

"The substantive findings of science are a product of social 
collaboration and are assigned to the community. They constitute 
a common heritage in which the equity of the individual producer 
is severely limited. An eponymous law or theory does not enter 
into the exclusive possession of the discoverer and heirs, nor do 
the mores bestow upon them special rights of use and disposition. 
Property rights in science are whittled down to the bare minimum 
by the rationale of the scientific ethic. Scientists claim to 
'their' intellectual property are limited to those of recognition 
and esteem which, if the institution functions with a modicum of 
efficiency, are roughly commensurate with the significance of the 
increments brought to the common fund of knowledge."

I have argued that publishers need to understand that in future 
they will need to make their profits from nonexclusive licensing 
in a competitive market. Then commercial publishing and open 
science will be in sync again.

Rephrased as a warning: Publishers that insist on transfer of 
copyright are out of sync with the norms and economics of 

Chris Armbruster

"Cyberscience and the Knowledge-Based Economy, Open Access and Trade
Publishing: from Contradiction to Compatibility With Nonexclusive
Copyright Licensing".
Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=938119