Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 21:34:12 +0000

On Tue, 18 Mar 2003, Thomas Krichel wrote:

>sh> What is needed, urgently, today, is universal self-archiving, and
>sh> not trivial worries about whether to do it here or there or both:
>sh> OAI-interoperability makes this into a non-issue from the
>sh> self-archiver's point of view, and merely a technical feature to
>sh> sort out, from the OAI-developers' point of view.
> Success here depends on selling the idea to academics, and that
> depends crucially on what business models are followed.

I have no idea what "business models" have to do with demonstrating to
academics that increasing research access increases research impact.

> each of the disciplines
> that have traditionally issued preprints and working papers,
> i.e. computer science, economomics, mathematics and physics
> has its own special case. All have their own business model.
> One size does not fit all.

I still can't follow. These are among the disciplines whose researchers
have self-archived -- in the case of physics/maths, mostly in one
disciplinary archive, in the case of computer science and economics,
in arbitrary websites (and some central archives). I don't know what you
mean by a "business model." And the only fact that fits them all is that
self-archiving maximizes research impact by maximizing research access.
That is also the only relevant fact here -- other than that OAI-compliant
self-archiving is far more effective and desirable than arbitrary

> > No need! First, because the "duplification of effort" is so minimal
> It will not be, especially when there is a chance to have
> different versions in different archives, this could be
> rather, if not highly, problematic.

I have no idea how much of a technical problem duplicate self-archiving
would cause (whether of the same paper in different archives, or
different versions of the same paper in the same or different archives).
But my response is: "If only that were our only remaining 'problem'
then my work would be done!" The real problem is getting the research
community to realize that it needs to self-archive *at all* (never mind
how many versions!), and why, and how. Compared to that fundamental
"nullplification-of-effort" problem, which is the one we are still facing
currently, any "duplication-of-effort" or "balking-at-duplicating-effort"
problem is truly trivial.

> > It is such a small issue that it does not belong in a general discussion
> > of open access and self-archiving for researchers.
> You constantly belittle techncial problems, and then you wonder
> why the archives are staying empty or do not exist. Answer: because
> these "technical problems" have not been solved. By belittling
> them, you put yourself in the way of finding a solution.

I belittle trivial problems to put them in context, and to highlight
the sole nontrivial problem. Double-archived papers are a trivial
problem. Non-archived papers are the nontrivial problem. I am *certain*
(not guessing, *certain*) that the reason the archives are not filling
faster is most decidedly *not* because of any aspect of the "duplicate paper"
problem. Most researchers don't even understand why they should
self-archive *one* version of a paper, let alone being concerned about
having to self-archive more than one. What gets in the way of finding
a solution to the nontrivial problem -- universal self-archiving --
is a pathway littered with trivial problems and nonproblems (of which
"duplication" is merely the 23rd of at least 26 I've catalogued so far: ).

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Mar 18 2003 - 21:34:12 GMT

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