Re: Ingenta to offer OAI eprint service

From: Barbara Kirsop <ept_at_BIOSTRAT.DEMON.CO.UK>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 09:59:47 +0100

The posting on July 18th from Stevan relates to email messages sent to
both Stevan and Ingenta by myself and the Electronic Publishing Trust
(EPT), respectively. I would like to make clear that we were not
concerned about copyright issues, the legitimate activities of
commercial organisations, commercial publishers (we work with many from
the developing world) nor even about filling the archives. Our concern
is solely about the possible development of a two-tier eprint software
system that would emerge as a result of a commercial development in
parallel with the free-of-cost software. It seems to us that where this
scenario exists, the non-commercial system will likely be of a less
well-developed standard. Filling the archives is essential, but filled
archives without the eprint software to provide global access to them
must be as useless as empty archives.

It is very true that scientists in developing countries are highly
enthusiastic about the potential for free access to the world's
scientific literature that institutional archives present. The EPT is
active in raising awareness about the OAI and associated services
( But scientists in the developing countries
have important research information to contribute to the global
knowledge base, and raising visibility of this through their own
institutional archives is also seen to be a very important opportunity.
Closing the S to N knowledge gap, making visible the 'missing' science,
are real challenges that archives in developing countries can help to

It is difficult for academic authors in the developed world to relate to
the feeling of isolation and impotence that scientists feel if their
research remains largely unknown and unacknowledged, as is too often the
case at present in the developing world. Moreover, the importance of the
research generated in these regions is of huge relevance to the
development of international research programmes - particularly in such
areas as AIDS, malaria, TB, ecology and conservation, where local
conditions and local knowledge are significant factors. Therefore, the
OAI movement was increasingly regarded as a light at the end of the
tunnel and one-for-all software the ideal tool.

We remain concerned that as the commercial system develops, the
scientists in the poorer countries will have no choice but to use the
non-commercial software. If the development of this will indeed forge
ahead at the same rate as that developed by Ingenta, this will be
reassuring. But the new commercial arrangement suggests that the current
software has need of improved user support, so perhaps the BOAI
initiative could be encouraged to focus on supporting archives in the
developing world by funding the development of installation or
self-archiving manuals. Archives in the developing regions would be
quickly filled, since the global recognition they provide would be
greatly encouraging to scientific development, both personally and

Barbara Kirsop
Electronic Publishing Trust for Development

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> This is a reply to another commentator's expression of concern (excerpt
> will be quoted shortly) about the license that Southampton University has
> given to Ingenta to develop a commercial service to install, customize
> and maintain Eprints Archives for Universities wish to purchase such
> a service.
> The commentator's concern is that the Ingenta version of the software
> may become better than the free version, and that this will increase
> rather than decrease the digital divide for poorer countries.
> The gist of the reply has already made in this Forum:
> The GNU license for the free version not only requires that the
> free version remain freely available, but it also requires that all
> alterations in the software be freely available, both to all users and
> to all programmers who are doing further modifications of the code.
> Moreover, any revenues received from Ingenta by Southampton University
> will be used to continue to develop and support the free version.
> This has already been stated in this Forum. The point to be addressed
> here is the specific one, about developing countries and the digital
> divide:
> The commentator who is quoted (anonymously) below expresses some entirely
> understandable yet entirely groundless worries. I would have preferred
> to reply to the entire message in full openly, but as it was not posted,
> I reply only to the anonymized excerpt.
> I think we have come to a point where it is very important to express
> explicit commitment to the support of the free version of Eprints,
> by way of reassurance to the developing world.
> This is not because there is any danger at all that Southampton
> University would betray the project, nor because there is any immediate
> danger that underfunding of the free Southampton version will make it
> inferior to the fee-based Ingenta version (the GNU license already
> protects against that). It is merely because of perceptions. It is
> important to reassure both the developing world and the many first-world
> institutions suffering from the serials budget crisis that the rug will
> not be pulled out from under them insofar as the Eprints software is
> concerned.
> The reason is that so much about open-access is about perception: It is
> (wrong-headed) perceptions that are making us demonize publishers,
> and believe that the open-access problem, or its solution, somehow lies
> with them. It is (wrong-headed) perceptions that make as believe that
> copyright (or peer review, or preservation, or plagiarism, or something
> else) makes it illegal (or imprudent or unnecessary) to take matters
> into our own hands and create open access overnight by self-archiving
> our peer-reviewed research in our institutional Eprint Archives.
> By the same token, it is perception (and in this case misperception)
> that sees Ingenta's commercial version of Eprints as an obstacle to open
> access and as widening the digital divide.
> At the heart of the commentator's worry is a profound and persistent
> misunderstanding of the actual causal role that the software is meant
> to play in the Open Access movement -- and from the specific vantage
> point of the developing countries in particular.
> The misunderstanding is this: The Eprints software and the Eprints
> Archives themselves cannot give the developing world (or anyone)
> access to the research literature. Only researchers and their
> institutions can do that. It is wrong to think of either the software or
> the (empty) archives as any sort of a boon to the developing world. It
> is the FILLING of those archives that will constitute the boon to the
> developing world (and everyone else too). Hence what the commentator
> and everyone else should really be worrying about is: "How can we get
> those archives filled as soon as possible?"
> Offering the commercial Ingenta option for those universities who prefer
> to pay to have their Eprint Archives installed and maintained for them,
> rather than to use the free version and do it for themselves, is one of
> the (many) things that can be done to help get those archives filled as
> soon as possible!
> For, whether Ingenta-maintained or university-maintained, we are
> talking about Open Access Archives, containing each university's own
> peer-reviewed research output, freely accessible to everyone. It should
> not worry anyone that some universities (who can afford it, and have
> only been held back from self-archiving by the fact that they did not
> want to install and maintain their archives themselves, preferring
> instead to pay a commercial service to do it) will now have available
> to them the very service whose absence has so far held them back
> from self-archiving.
> And a second, perhaps deeper misperception inherent in the commentator's
> worry is this: The real boon to the developing world that the eprints
> software is meant to provide will not come from the adoption of the
> software and the creation of Eprints Archives in the developing world,
> providing open access to the developing world's research output. As
> welcome and beneficial as that will be to the visibility and impact of
> developing-world research, that is NOT the developing world's primary
> problem! Their problem is ACCESS to the research output of the DEVELOPED
> world! Hence what the developing world should be wishing for is that
> universities in the developed world should create Eprints Archives and,
> far more important, should FILL them with their own research output, as
> soon as possible.
> is doing everything it can to provide those universities
> with the means to do so: It provides the free software, so they can
> self-install it and get down to self-archiving as quickly, cheaply and
> simply as possible; and it also licenses the software to Ingenta, so
> they can install and maintain the Eprint Archives, for a fee, for those
> universities that prefer that option.
> is also working directly on the REAL open-access problem,
> which is not the software or the archives, but the FILLING: The only way
> the developed world will be induced to provide open access to their
> research output is if they can be made to understand that it is in their
> own interest, and how.
> That is why we have created citebase -- --
> a search engine that retrieves research on the basis of its impact,
> providing also an impact analysis which begins to show, concretely
> and perceptibly (!), the direct causal connection between access and
> impact: Maximizing access to their research maximizes the impact of their
> research, which in turn maximizes the resulting rewards to researchers
> and their institutions (research funding, career advancement, prizes,
> prestige).
> The essence of the commentator's worry is this:
> "[We are] very apprehensive about this development [the Southampton
> University partnership with Ingenta] since, although the free
> version will remain available to the poor nations, it seems clear
> to us that the Ingenta version will be superior. We much fear that
> the Southampton University version will languish through lack of
> financial support, a two-tier system will evolve and the digital
> divide will be widened once again.
> I hope it is clear by now what a (well-intentioned) non-sequitur this
> is: The problem is neither the availability of the free version of the
> software to the poor nations nor the superiority of the commercial version
> of the software to the free version: The problem is the availability
> of the research literature itself, to ALL nations! Whether the Eprints
> Archives are created with the free software or the commercial version --
> or with other software altogether -- does not matter in the least. The
> only thing that matters is that the archives should be created and FILLED,
> as soon as possible.
> Amen.
> Stevan Harnad
> NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free
> access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
> American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):
> or
> Discussion can be posted to:
> See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:
> and the Free Online Scholarship Movement:
Received on Mon Jul 22 2002 - 09:59:47 BST

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