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Freeing the Refereed Journal Literature Online Through Public Self-Archiving

Stevan Harnad
Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton

ABSTRACT: It is a foregone conclusion that all refereed journals will soon be available online; most of them already are. This means that one can access them from any networked desk-top. The literature will all be interconnected by citation, author, and keyword/subject links, allowing for unheard-of power and ease of access and navigability. Successive drafts of pre-refereeing preprints will be linked to the official refereed draft, as well as to any subsequent corrections, revisions, updates, comments, responses, and underlying empirical databases, all enhancing the self-correctiveness and interactiveness of scientific research and communication in remarkable new ways. But there is still one last frontier to cross before science reaches the optimal and the inevitable: Just as there is no longer any need to be constrained by the access-blocking restrictions of paper distribution, there is no longer any need to be constrained by the access-blocking financial fire-walls of Subscription/Site-License/Pay-Per-View (S/L/P) tolls for this give-away literature that its authors have always donated for free (and its referees have refereed for free), with the sole goal of maximizing their impact on research (by accessing the eyes and minds of fellow-research). Authors can now self-archive their refereed papers publicly for free. This will usher in the optimal and the inevitable: Journal publication will down-size to just implementing the service of Quality-Control and Certification (QC/C, through peer review and editing), which will be paid for up-front at the author-institution end out of only a small portion (about $300 per paper) of the annual savings from the cancellation of all S/L/P tolls at the reader-institution end. Journal publishers are best advised to prepare for and accommodate the optimal/inevitable solution for science in the new era of "Scholarly Skywriting," rather than to try to delay or block it via restrictive submissions and copyright policies that merely amplify the conflict of interest inherent in the revolutionary possibilities for scientific communication opened up by the PostGutenberg Galaxy

Harnad, S. (1990d) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 - 343