Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 14:49:11 +0000

On Sat, 15 Mar 2003, David Goodman wrote:

>sh> What is the most pressing
>sh> reason for creating and filling institutional repositories at this
>sh> time? Cliff thinks it is to promote new forms of scholarship whereas
>sh> I think it is to promote refereed research. The new scholarship
>sh> is coming too, and will certainly grow in importance, but the immediate
>sh> rationale for creating and filling institutional repositories is for the
>sh> self-archiving of institutional research input, in order to maximize
>sh> its research impact, by maximizing user access to it, through open access:
> Stevan, It can perfectly well be for both, and the relatively value is
> not yet determinable.

Institutional Open-Access Archives are indeed for both new forms of
scholarly output and conventional peer-reviewed research output. Moreover,
I don't doubt that the *eventual* value of of promoting new forms of
scholarship online will outweigh the value of promoting conventional
research impact.

But what I am pretty sure is true is (1) that it is not the possibility of
new forms of scholarship that will *drive* institutional self-archiving or
open access, and (2) that it is not the need for new forms of scholarship
that makes institutional self-archiving and open access so urgent at
this time. Both the driver and the urgency come from the needless daily
impact-loss and access-denial for conventional peer-reviewed research
output (20,000 journals-worth, 2,000,000 articles annually).

And the ultimate reductio is this: Institutional Eprint Archives are
intended for both pre-refereeing "preprints" and refereed, published
"postprints": Eprints = preprints plus postprints, two different stages
in the embryology of research.

Well, the category "preprint" already includes "new forms of [digital]
scholarly output"! Until/unless it is submitted to and published by a
peer-reviewed journal, *all* forms of scholarly [digital] output are
subsumed by the "preprint" category!

So there is no disagreement about what may be self-archived in an
Institutional Eprint Archive, just perhaps about what it is most urgent to
self-archive and make openly accessible right now, and why. Hence about
the immediate raison d'etre of institutional archives and archiving. All
the evidence and reasons there point to the refereed research literature
and toll-access barriers and impact-loss as the casus belli.

Besides, other forms of online digital scholarly output are already
open-access. Their problem is not access but academic recognition!

Until all this comes into focus in people's minds, institutional
self-archiving will be headed off in all directions -- and getting
nowhere, fast.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sun Mar 16 2003 - 14:49:11 GMT

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