Re: Ingenta offer to OAI eprint service

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 17:39:15 +0100

Here are a few comments on the Southampton Press Release that Peter
Suber has forwarded. For those in a hurry, here is the short version:

Don't panic! Southampton University has not sold out on open-access to the
commercial providers! If you read carefully, you will see that not only is
the free (GNU-licensed) version of the software to continue, but any
university proceeds from the commercial version will be used to keep
funding the free version.

The commercial version is simply for those universities who feel that the
free software is not enough: that they want commercial help installing,
configuring and maintaining it. In my own opinion, the free version IS
enough; but if there are some universities whose perception is that it
is NOT enough, we are faced with a choice of whether to (1) ignore those
unversities, and accept the fact that they will not be self-archiving
their peer-reviewed research output for now, or to (2) give them what
they feel they need in order to go ahead and provide open access to
their research output right now.

We decided to do the latter, in the interests of hastening the optimal
and inevitable era of open access for all peer-reviewed research. Now
some comments:

On Tue, 2 Jul 2002, Peter Suber wrote:

> For immediate release, July 1, 2002
> Ingenta plc, which empowers the exchange of scholarly and professional
> research content online, has signed a strategic partnership with the
> University of Southampton to develop software which will form a key part of
> the growing Open Archives movement.
> The University has played a key role in the Open Archives initiative (OAi);
> with the development of the leading software resource supporting the
> initiative. ePrints, created by the Department of Electronics and Computer
> Science, allows organisations such as universities to create web-based
> archives (e-print services) for their research articles, lecture notes and
> other documents and associated metadata. Virginia Tech, the University of
> Glasgow and the Australian National University are among the hundreds of
> organisations worldwide who have implemented the software in order to
> provide easy and open access to the activities being undertaken by their
> researchers.
> The goal of the OAi movement is to create inter-operability between these
> archives, ultimately allowing web users to search a number of them
> simultaneously. This would result in a powerful new distribution channel
> through which researchers could collaborate. This will sit alongside and
> complement the formally published and peer-reviewed scientific literature
> provided by journal publishers.

It is important to understand what "sit alongside and complement"
means: Our goal is to have every single one of the 2,000,000+
articles published annually in the planet's 20,000+ peer-reviewed
journals openly accessible (free online full-text) to everyone. In the
meanwhile, and in parallel, alongside the open-access version, there is
no conflict whatsoever with the continuing availability of toll-access
online (and on-paper) versions for as long as there is a market for them,
including whatever value-added enhancements the publishers may wish to
bundle in.

> For this goal to be realised, many
> participating institutions will need to rely on commercially supported
> software and a standardised data input model. It is to create this service
> that Ingenta and Southampton have agreed to collaborate.

The free software needs
to be installed and maintained. The installation and maintenance
are easy, but some institutions may still feel they need more help. That
is part of the rationale for commercial support. In addition, the free
software is intentionally flexible on format, allowing universities to
configure it as they see fit. But some institutions might want to have a
commercial, standardised configuration. That's fine too. Whatever it takes
to induce them to get on with the self-archiving of their peer-reviewed
research output!

> Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, Wendy Hall,
> CBE explains: "There is a rapidly growing momentum behind the OAi movement,
> and behind the use of Southampton's ePrints software. However, if the
> movement is to deliver its ultimate vision, participating institutions need
> to rely on a robust and standardised infrastructure. It is this
> infrastructure that we will be creating in this ground-breaking strategic
> partnership with Ingenta."

Many universities have already adopted the software; others are waiting
for more help. This is for those universities.

> Under the terms of the strategic partnership, Ingenta will create an
> enhanced, commercially supported version of ePrints, which it will make
> available as a service to institutions worldwide. A share of the proceeds
> will be channelled back into supporting Southampton's research and
> development efforts in continuing to evolve ePrints, which will also remain
> available as open source software.

This is the key passage: We are leasing it for commercial development for
two reasons: (1) to increase adoption and hasten open access, and (2) to
help fund further development and support of the free version.

> Commenting on the partnership, Mark Rowse, Chief Executive, Ingenta said:
> "Ingenta is renowned for creating robust and large-scale search facilities
> for published scholarly content on the Web, but we and our publisher
> customers recognise that the researcher requires more than formally
> published articles to fulfil their research needs. Together with
> Southampton University, we will create complementary e-print services that
> assist the researcher, the librarian and the institution in providing
> access to and archiving the whole of the research cycle."

If Ingenta's reputation helps hasten adoption, it will be a great
service to hastening the open-access era.

In addition, we must remember that although the OAI (Open Archives
Initiative) grew out of the self-archiving
initiative, its all-important interoperability standards have now
vastly outgrown its original motivation. OAI is now for the
interoperability of the entire digital literature, whether open-access
or not. It is now the Budapest Open Acess Initiative (BOAI) that has
taken over the OAI's original open-access mantle and mandate:

Hence, although the software was originally designed to
provide OAI-compliant software for creating OAI-compliant Open Eprint
Archives for the self-archiving of open-access research, the software
can also be used to create OAI-compliant Open Archives for other kinds of
material too, including non-giveaway texts, for which the metadata (author,
title, date, journalname, volume, etc.) are made harvestable in order
to be interoperable (seamlessly searchable, retrievable) with the rest
of the digital literature, but the full-texts themselves are not.

It would not be feasible (or ethical) to dictate how the
software is to be used. It could even be used by a commercial journal
publisher to provide toll-based access to their journal articles! That
is fine, as long as the software is also available for its original
intended use. OAI-compliance then ensures that the entire digital
literature is interoperable, the providers can decide what full-texts
they want to offer in open-access, and users can decide which they
prefer to use.

The critical point insofar as the peer-reviewed research literature
is concerned is that its authors (and their institutions), being the
providers, have the choice.

I, for one, have no doubt whatsoever about what their optimal,
inevitable choice will be. Ingenta will help ensure that it is all
interoperable with everything else, and commercially supported where

Stevan Harnad

> For more information, editorial contributions and photography, please contact:
> Amanda Procter
> Ingenta plc
> Tel: +44 (0)1865 799022
> About Ingenta
> Ingenta is the global market leader in the management and distribution of
> published scientific, professional and academic research via the Internet,
> and develops and maintains specialist websites for publishers,
> self-publishing societies and libraries.
> For publishers of scientific, professional and academic periodicals,
> journals and reference works, Ingenta provides a suite of publisher
> services including data conversion, secure online hosting, access control
> and distribution services. For libraries and information professionals,
> Ingenta offers collection management and comprehensive document delivery
> options. Ingenta's collection of research content - 12 million articles
> from more than 5,400 online publications and 26,000 fax delivered
> publications - is accessed by over 5 million researchers and librarians a
> month via and other websites, making Ingenta one of the 10
> largest Web service providers in the UK (New Media Age).
> In October 2000 and 2001, InfoWorld named Ingenta one of the top 100
> e-businesses in the World. In March 2002, the BT/The Guardian Vision 100
> survey named Ingenta as one of the top 100 most visionary companies in the
> UK. Ingenta is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.
> About Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia (IAM) Research Group, part of the
> Department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton
> The Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia (IAM) Group follows a broad-based,
> multi- and inter- disciplinary research agenda that focuses on the design
> and application of computing systems for complex information and knowledge
> processing tasks. With around 80 researchers, IAM is an international
> leader in the three major themes that converge in the Group's tripartite
> title:
> * intelligence: examining the fundamental principles of intelligent and
> adaptive behaviour and developing methods and services for acquiring,
> modelling, reusing, retrieving, publishing and maintaining knowledge;
> * agents: devising new methods and models for inter-agent interactions such
> as cooperation, coordination and negotiation, developing novel real-world
> applications and pioneering work on agent-oriented software engineering;
> * multimedia: investigating the basic principles and applications of
> multimedia, hypermedia and document management in large scale open systems
> such as digital libraries, devising new models for scientific publications,
> and developing context aware, personalised information management systems.
> These three research themes also combine synergistically in a number of
> grand challenges for computer science - including grid computing, the
> semantic web, and pervasive computing environments. All of these domains
> can be classified as large-scale, open, distributed systems in which
> entities (people and software), representing different stakeholders, act
> and interact in flexible ways to achieve their individual and collective
> goals. It is, perhaps, in tackling such problems that the true value of the
> IAM endeavour can be best demonstrated.
Received on Tue Jul 02 2002 - 17:39:15 BST

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