Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?

From: D M Sergeant <ecldms_at_SUN.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 16:18:29 GMT

SH> On Tue, 11 Feb 2003, D M Sergeant raises some frequently-raised points
SH> that I think it is important to confront head-on:
SH> The digital library community is very much concerned with preservation,
SH> which is both commendable and a traditional responsibility of the
SH> library community.

Actually, the concern with preservation should primarily belong to the
creator of the digital object. (In your case, the research community
that is producing valuable documents.) Fortunately the digital library
community is concerned with preserving what others neglect.

SH> But there are two things about the rationale for the self-archiving
SH> of refereed research that the library community keeps overlooking or
SH> failing to understand, and as a result, the well-intended preservation
SH> concerns of librarians are proving to be (unintentional) retardants to
SH> self-archiving, instead of helping to speed it on its way.

Retardants to self-archiving from the retard library community? Did you
mean to be so harsh?

SH> (1) In the first instance, and for the time being, the self-archiving of
SH> refereed research publications is not a *substitute* for existing forms
SH> of publication and preservation, it is merely a *supplement* to them.
SH> To put it more explicitly, the papers that researchers need to
SH> self-archive (in order to maximise their research impact *now*) are all
SH> still appearing, in parallel, in the traditional print journals and their
SH> associated online editions. The librarians' preservation concerns and
SH> initiatives should be focused on *those* continuing, primary, persistent
SH> channels of publication. *That* is virtally where all the literature --
SH> both in analog and digital form -- is. Their preservation concerns
SH> should not be directed at the efforts to supplement those continuing,
SH> primary, persistent channels of publication, through institutional
SH> self-archiving.
SH> The primary purpose of research self-archiving today is to remedy the
SH> needless daily, cumulative research-impact loss that is occurring
SH> because of toll-barriers that block access to this research for potential
SH> researcher/users whose institutions cannot afford to pay the tolls to
SH> access it:
SH> Call that "filling the current access-gap." I hope this now makes it
SH> more obvious that it is not the already-overdue supplementary measures,
SH> intended to fill the current access-gap, that should be waiting for
SH> preservation-problems to be solved, with self-archiving continuing to
SH> be held back while we shop for future-proof self-archiving software!

So preservation should focus on tolled publications, and not
self-publications? Self-archiving systems cannot have a preservation

SH> Which brings us to the second point:
SH> (2) If self-archiving had been held back -- pending digital
SH> future-proofing -- by the physicists in 1991, then physics would have
SH> lost the 12 years of access and impact provided by ArXiv during that time.
SH> For the 200,000 papers in ArXiv are still here today in 2003, still
SH> being widely and openly read and used. ArXiv has since successfully
SH> upgraded to OAI-compliance, and will no doubt continue upgrading its
SH> contents to further usability standards as time goes on. Yet it is all
SH> the other disciplines -- the ones that have *not* been self-archiving for
SH> over a decade as the physicists have, the ones that have needlessly lost
SH> another decade of potential research impact -- that are now being enjoined
SH> by the well-meaning library community to pause [still longer] and
SH> consider that:
SH> > the wrong [software] choice may lead to a failure in the preservation.
SH> > Other material is ergo being needlessly lost while ever it is not being
SH> > preserved.

So really this ArXiv self-archiving initiative is an example of preservation.
This is a good thing. And surely it is a good thing that the library
community is beginning to preserve other research disciplines.

Not having the correct software is no rationale for loosing digital material.
Surely it is best to build software that does as good a job as can be done.
Yes, the job still needs to be done.

SH> The library community is worrying about the "needless loss" of nonexistent
SH> content --

I thought that it was you who suggested that a whole decade of (nonexistent)
research had been lost needlessly!

SH> content that (if only it had been self-archived!) would have
SH> been but a supplement to its persistent primary incarnation, which is
SH> today still in its publishers' proprietary analog and digital form and
SH> not the object of any of this discussion -- while the research community
SH> is still needlessly losing more years of potential research impact.


SH> I would say that there was a certain incompatibility here between the
SH> desiderata of the library community and the research community! Yet it
SH> is all so simply resolved, if we simply remind ourselves that we are
SH> talking here about immediate *supplements* to publication and existing
SH> forms of preservation, not *substitutes* for them.

I cannot even remember raising the banner of the library community. My
desire is that nothing digital is lost inadvertantly. This means effort
on someone's part to decide what to preserve, and to preserve it.

SH> Note that the emphasis is on "immediate" rather than "delay" -- including
SH> delays for the sake of future-proofing.

Emphasis is on getting the "immediate" done well.

SH> > How much do either [EPrints or DSpace -- or]
SH> > conform to the OAIS reference model?
SH> How much do they *need* to (and why?), in order to provide many years
SH> of enhanced access and impact to otherwise unaffordable research, *now*?

So that the many years happens on purpose, instead of in isolated instances
by accident. It was actually a genuine question, which I would like to
know the answer to.

How much do EPrints or DSpace conform to the OAIS Reference Model?

SH> > It is unlikely that either [EPrints or DSpace] will be able to provide
SH> > the full solution.
SH> The full solution for what?

The full solution to keeping my database application for many years.
(This was the example I used earlier in my original reply.)

SH> The library community's *possible* long-term
SH> concerns, or the research community's *certain* (and long overdue)
SH> immediate ones?
SH> Stevan Harnad

As I mentioned, self-archiving is a good idea. Immediate self-archiving is
even better. Immediate self-archiving and self-preservation is even more

Derek Sergeant
Received on Tue Feb 11 2003 - 16:18:29 GMT

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