Re: UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) review

From: Barry Mahon <>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2002 14:13:58 +0000

>Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 08:39:22 +0100
>From: informania_at_SUPANET.COM
> Re: The circularity Stevan refers to is "You cannot cite what you
>haven't read, you tend not to read what is not stocked in your library (or
>readily avaialble online), and your library tends not to stock what isn't


> Re: "Just as the widespread *perception* that self-archiving is basically
> self-publishing, or otherwise dangerously close to breaking copyright
> law, is hampering progress with institutional repositories"


> Re: "Indeed. So forget about relying on your library (and the access
>tolls it may or may not be able to afford) and make your research openly
>accessible for free for all by self-archiving it. And if you are in a
>developing country and you need it, help in doing this is available
>from the Soros Foundation's Budapest Open Access Initiative:

This whole argument (OA is better/cheaper/more efficient.....etc and
misunderstood) runs the risk of becoming like politics and religion
as subjects for argument, ideology replace reality. Despite all the
hype, and noise scientists still seem to prefer the well known and well
understood paths to publishing - at the moment.

I would wager that they understand quite well the concepts and
advantages/disadvantages of OA but so far they consider the tried and
tested to be as good if not better. The quote above about circularity
is one of the measures of this.

One of the possible problems of OA is the lack of simple (i.e. easy
to access/available off a shelf) sources with well known titles and
an inherent quality perception.

The same is true of RAE, in a way, it is perhaps crude but it is simple
and it fits the understanding of present publication patterns by those
who advise the governement on such matters as RAE (we must not forget
that these decisions are taken with the agreement of at least some of
those who are so assessed).

The newer ways of publishing have, like most new ideas, to overcome some
'not invented here' like reaction, some competitive jealousy from those
economically affected and inertia. In addition OA has to prove that the
writing will be seen by those who matter, including those performing RAE,
and be easly to find when you are looking for citable material.

OA will become an accepted part of the research results dissemination
process, it will be incorporated in whatever sorts of RAEs we will have
and OA originated material will be identified and quoted like everything
else. Do we have to agree that it will replace all the other methods?? In
my opinion, no, we can discuss that as one scenario, if we wish, but
let it not become the sine qua non of the discussions.

Barry Mahon ICSTI
Received on Thu Nov 28 2002 - 14:13:58 GMT

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