Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Journal asks me to remove a posted article pdf

I recently received  a request from a journal editor (a friend) to remove a pdf of an article of mine published in that journal from my site on I complied with the request. The following text is taken from my email to the editor:

I have complied with your request to remove the pdf of my recently published paper from my site. I approach this issue from two—often contradictory—perspectives: moral and legal. Morally, I am complying with your request under protest. In my mind, I own my scholarly publications. I did the research, I wrote the paper, and the products are my own. I resent the policies of journals that do not permit an author to post his or her publications on the internet. These policies restrict the distribution of scientific knowledge, thereby harming the advancement of scholarship and depriving the public of knowledge obtained often with public funding. As a result, such policies also harm my career, my reputation, and the advancement of my own scholarly trajectory.

From a legal standpoint, however, I often sign the author’s agreements that prevent just this type of posting of published papers. When I am challenged about posting a paper, I typically have little basis for complaint. I signed the form, and in our society bound by the rule of law, I have to comply with the law. While my moral sentiments are quite strong on the issue, they won’t hold up in a court of law. As a citizen and public employee I feel obliged to comply with the law on this and other issues.


Zack B. said...

I suggest you check out, a new resource that enables researchers to learn about their legal rights to share various versions of paywalled articles (e.g. pre-preint, post-print or published versions). Search is a bit slow, especially when searching without use of an orcid-id, but it's a very helpful resource.

Charles Oppenheim said...

Just don't sign the publishers agreement in future - or rather, amend it so you retain copyright in the article rather than assign it to the publisher, and make sure you retain the right to post the pdf wherever you want. Then return the amended agreement. If they object (which I doubt they will do), just tell them you will instead submit it to a rival journal. Never fails.

Michael E. Smith said...

@Charles - I've had one or two journals accept the SPARC authoprs addendum, and one or two reject it. One reason for not threatening to pull articles over this is that I often publish with co-authors these days, and these typically include students and post-docs, who are less well served by pulling a ms to go through another whole round of reviews, etc.

Michael E. Smith said...

@Zack - I gave a try. For my ORCID, they found thousands of papers that I did not write. I did see two of my papers among the first several dozen, and their results said that they had no idea of the legal rights associated with the papers. Useless.