Wednesday, September 15, 2004

SBL Seminar Papers Discussion continues

Further to my post on this topic yesterday, More on the SBL Seminar Papers, see now also:

Copyright and Blogging (Rubén Gómez at Bible Software Review)

Copyright and SBL Papers (Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis)

The SBL, Copyright and Scholarly Courtesy (including updates, Jim Davila, Paleojudaica)

Jim gets to the nub of my own concerns with this comment:
This is an unannounced and, as far as I know, undiscussed departure from the previous policy regarding SBL Seminar Papers. Some of the volumes have pointed out that the papers are preliminary work, which is fair enough, but there's never been a hint that they shouldn't be cited and, indeed, they have frequently been cited in the secondary literature. I've published two papers in the SBLSP myself, at least one of which has been cited elsewhere, indeed in the last few months. It never would have occurred to me to expect the citers to ask my permission first.
I've had just the one article published in the Seminar Papers and my understanding was like Jim's -- I would certainly not have expected people to ask my permission before quoting from the article, much less citing it, nor have they. In fact I've been delighted when it has been cited. Jim also comments:
The new policy doesn't make any sense for the printed and bound volumes, let alone for Internet publications. It seems to be aimed at small seminars of, say, a dozen or fewer people in which they circulate the papers among themselves for discussion and feedback before revising and publishing them.
This, I think, compliments my point that the new rider essentially devalues the role played by the Seminar Papers -- what is now the incentive to publish this way? An example. This year I am giving a paper in the Mark Group. Our papers will be circulated in advance to the members of the group but we were also offered the chance to publish in the Seminar Papers, for which we had to get our papers in long in advance. (Mine is still not written yet). I regarded the Seminar Papers as a higher status publication than the informal sharing of papers among members of the specific group.

I agree with many of Jim's comments on the practical difficulties that the new rider introduces.

One comment on Stephen's remarks:
Much of my previous comments in my "'Copyright Confusion'" were colored by what is now an apparently false assumption that the on-line papers are preprints of articles for a forthcoming printed edition of the Seminar Papers 2004. As a result, I was under the impression that the restrictions were only temporary until the "official" publication and would therefore be analogous to a media embargo that is often imposed by journals such as Nature, which grant pre-publication access with pre-publication restrictions. But Mark Goodacre states that "The on-line version replaces the older paper version," a critical fact I overlooked. Is this true? Are they really replacing the printed version with the on-line? If so, whatever policy considerations I was assuming based on temporary restrictions are less appropriate here. (Also, since the Seminar Papers used to be available at the meeting, whatever assumption I had about revising them in response to comments at the meeting was off too.)
Yes, the relevant section on the SBL Site is the following:
The new version, which replaces the paperback edition, will provide convenient, timely access to papers intended to be read prior to the Annual Meeting. The decision, made early in April by the Research and Publications Committee, recognizes a new opportunity for scholarly exchange before and during the Annual Meeting. (SBL Seminar Papers on-line)
The invitation to publish in the Seminar Papers was pretty broad -- it went out at least to the leaders of the seminars, groups and consultations so that they, in turn, would invite all those who were to speak to contribute to the Seminar Papers should they wish to do so.

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