Re: Consultation Draft - Study on Preservation of eprints

From: Neal BEAGRIE <n.beagrie_at_JISC.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 10:52:57 +0100

dear Stevan
many thanks for this posting in response to the consultation draft. Some thoughts on issues raised:
1. No-one doubts the overall importance of expanding the content held in institutional respositories. The draft report itself points out there are only around 5,000 eprints estimated currently to be held in UK institutional respositories. This is clearly a major issue and significant cultural change is still needed to change this position.
2. The consultation draft is one of a series of reports commissioned under the JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy. The archiving of subscription e-journal journals and the issues surrounding the preservation of and ongoing access to, the primary corpus of published literature are considered in parallel.
3. Although the majority of preservation effort is clearly needed on the published corpus, the consultation draft for eprints is surely right to point to the preservation issues which are likely to arise in time for institutional repositories.
4. Preservation in this context is a means to an end - ensuring continuing access to cited research output (published or not).
5. The report considers issues which may lead to the retention(or withdrawal) of eprints over time. For related material such as e-theses mentioned in your (RES) category the need for continuing access and preservation will always be present.
6. You note all five aims listed in your email are worthwhile and important - but most are not urgent ie needing action now. Although preservation is a long-term challenge there are actions which are best taken at the earliest possible stage. Institutional approaches to IPR is one and this is being addressed elsewhere in the FAIR programme because of its impact across the board on repositories. Another is the issue of capturing the technical metadata which can support long-term management. As the report points out it is possible most if not all of this can be automated at deposit and its recommends exploring interfaces between institutional repository software (eprints, DSpace etc) and file format recognition software.
Overall I think the consultation draft is carefully balanced. It is not attempting to say there are preservation problems to solve before repositories can be filled. It is pointing out the role that preservation will play as these repositories grow and the steps that can be taken to address issues which become far more problematic over time if not addressed at an early stage. It clearly recognises the overall importance of growing content in repositories.
I hope it is a report which will be widely read by emerging institutional repositories and look forward to comments from colleagues in the FAIR programme in due course.
Neil Beagrie JISC Digital Preservation Focus
Programme Director Secretary, Digital Preservation Coalition
JISC London Office, Tel/Fax/Voicemail :+44 (0)709 2048179
King's College London email:
Strand Bridge House url:
138 - 142, The Strand,
London WC2R 1HH email list:

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Stevan Harnad [mailto:harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK]
        Sent: Fri 06/06/2003 20:23
        Subject: Re: Consultation Draft - Study on Preservation of eprints

        The institutional eprint repository movement would benefit greatly
        from clearly separating the 5 quasi-independent aims that currently
        constitute its very mixed agenda. All 5 aims are worthwhile and important,
        but only the first is urgent, and it is the heart of the challenge for
        filling institutional repositiories with university research output for
        the sake of maximizing its impact by maximizing access to it:

        The 5 distinct aims for institutional repositories

            I. (RES) self-archiving institutional research output (preprints,
            postprints and theses)

            II. (MAN) digital collection management (all kinds of digital content)

            III. (PRES) digital preservation (all kinds of digital content)

            IV. (TEACH) online teaching materials

            V. (EPUB) electronic publication (journals and books)

        As long as we keep blurring or mixing these 5 distinct aims, the first
        and by far the most pressing of them, RES -- the filling of university eprint
        archives with all university research output, pre- and post-peer-review,
        in order to maximize its impact through open access -- will be needlessly
        delayed (and so will any eventual relief from the university serials
        budget crisis).

        Perhaps the two most counterproductive of the conflations among these
        five distinct aims has been that between I and III (research
        self-archiving, RES, and digital preservation, PRES) and that between
        I and V (research self-archiving, RES, and electronic publication,

        The RES/PRES mix-up, much discussed in the American Scientist Forum,
        can easily be seen to be a needless and misleading conflation once we
        recall that insofar as the peer-reviewed research literature is
        concerned, the current preservation burden is on its primary corpus,
        which is the published literature (online and on paper). The much-needed
        filling of university research-output archives is a *supplement* to this
        primary corpus, for the purpose of maximizing its impact by maximizing
        access to it; it is not a *substitute* for it. It is simply a mistake
        and a needless retardant on the filling of the university research output
        archived to imply that there are preservation problems to solve before
        they can be filled.

        The RES/EPUB mix-up is really two mixups. The first is the conflation of
        self-archiving with self-publishing: The urgent archive-filling challenge,
        RES, concerns the self-archiving of peer-reviewed, *published* research
        output. Again, this is a *supplement* to publication, for the purpose of
        maximizing its impact by maximizing access to it; it is not a *substitute*
        for it.

        The second RES/EPUB mix-up has to do with university e-publishing
        ambitions (perhaps along the lines of High-Wire Press-Hopes!). It is
        fine to have these ambitions, but they should not be conflated in any
        way with the completely independent and urgent aim of self-archiving
        the university's peer-reviewed, *published* research output.

        Most of this is discussed in the thread:

            "EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

        See: "Enhance UK research impact and assessment by making the RAE webmetric"

        Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jun 10 2003 - 10:52:57 BST

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