How Research Funding Agencies Can Promote Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 15:21:45 +0100

On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Prof Bruce Royan wrote:

> As an occasional lurker on these exchanges, can I ask what the role of the
> Research Councils is, or should be, in all this? They fund much of the
> research which is published, and they have an interest in the results of the
> research they fund being widely disseminated, rather than locked up in
> journals only accessible from institutions that can afford to pay (possibly
> with research council money :-). Is there a role for them in building Open
> Archive services for folk in institutions that are not doing this, or
> portals to the archives that are? Perhaps they are doing this already?

The role of the Research Councils should be to ensure that funded
research is not only published ("publish or perish") but made openly
accessible to all potential users worldwide. There are two ways they can
help in this regard. One is to mandate institutional self-archiving of
all refereed research:

   Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated online
   RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives. Ariadne 35.

The other is to support open-access journals:

    Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing

There is progress on both these approaches, but open-access journals
seem to be an easier concept to grasp, even though they are not within
immediate universal reach, as self-archiving is. (It is for this reason
that although I fully support both BOAI approaches to open access -- -- I invest all my own
available time and energy into demonstrating the feasibility and benefits
of immediate self-archiving.)

    Maximizing university research impact through self-archiving

        "Research funding agencies such as NSF or NIH (US), HEFCE or
        EPSRC (UK), NSERC, CFI or FRSQ (Canada), or CNRS or INSERM
        (France) need to encourage self-archiving as part of the normal
        research cycle, requiring not only that the research findings
        be published, as they already require, but that their visibility
        and usage be maximized by making them openly accessible through

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):

Discussion can be posted to:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: jisc development discussion forum
> Sent: 17 June 2003 16:20
> Subject: Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?
> On Tue, 17 Jun 2003, Jan Velterop wrote:
> > Probably of interest to readers of this list:
> >
> In that article in The Scientist, "UC to launch open-access journals,"
> Catherine Zandonella writes:
> > In a trend that could permanently alter the nature of scholarly
> > publishing, several top research universities are setting up
> > electronic superarchives to store and share their researchers'
> > data. Some universities see these "institutional repositories"
> > simply as a way to capture their intellectual output, but others
> > aim to use their repositories as a means of launching open-access
> > alternatives to conventional academic journals.
> "Simply a way to capture their intellectual output"? Clearly the point
> of self-archiving refereed research has been completely missed here!
> Unfortunately, Zandonella's article simply propagates the growing
> wave of nonspecific euphoria about university repositories, which seems
> to be based on freely conflating distinct and not always compatible
> potential uses for such repositories.
> In
> I suggested:
> >sh> The 5 distinct aims for institutional repositories are:
> >
> >sh> I. (RES) self-archiving institutional research output (preprints,
> >sh> postprints and theses)
> >sh> II. (MAN) digital collection management (all kinds of digital
> >sh> content)
> >sh> III. (PRES) digital preservation (all kinds of digital content)
> >sh> IV. (TEACH) online teaching materials
> >sh> V. (EPUB) electronic publication (journals and books)
> >
> >sh> As long as we keep blurring or mixing these 5 distinct aims, the
> >sh> first and by far the most pressing of them, RES -- the filling of
> >sh> university eprint archives with all university research output,
> >sh> pre- and post-peer-review, in order to maximize its impact
> >sh> through open access -- will be needlessly delayed (and so will
> >sh> any eventual relief from the university serials budget crisis).
> UC seems to be another instance of conflating I. (RES) and V. (EPUB).
> It is hard to discern whether this is just a case of (i) misunderstanding
> the essential feature of peer review -- which is that it must be an
> autonomous, outsourced, neutral-3rd-party service, otherwise it risks
> just becoming a house organ or vanity press -- or else a case of (ii)
> High (Wire Press) Hopes (Stanford Envy?): Universities seeking to make
> a bigger inroad into electronic publishing.
> > This fall, the University of California (UC) plans to unveil just
> > such an option for its researchers: the ability to create and run
> > an open-access, peer-reviewed journal within the framework of its
> > eScholarship Repository.
> But the question is this: Does the planet really need more peer-reviewed
> journals (it has 20,000 already, most of them toll-access). And is the
> best contribution universities can make with their "superarchives" to
> create new journals? Or would it be more useful (to both themselves and
> other universities) if they instead focused on making their own
> peer-reviewed research publications openly accessible by self-archiving
> them in their own eprint archives (RES)? Does it help either
> objective to conflate them under the one rubric of "superarchive" (not
> UC's word, but a predictable reaction of the press, if we keep freely
> admixing I. - V.). Especially at a time when archive frenzy is growing
> fast, but self-archiving is still growing too slowly!
> > The repository, which is open to all users, will provide software
> > tools to automate the process of sending out papers for peer review;
> > the journal editors will determine the editorial policies and the
> > publication schedule. "We are trying to provide the continuum
> > of publishing alternatives," said Suzanne Samuel, eScholarship
> > Program coordinator for the California Digital Library, which runs
> > the repository for the UC system. (The eScholarship site already
> > contains one open-access journal, Dermatology Online Journal, which
> > was launched in 1995 and later moved to the UC site.)
> As Gerry McKiernan's recent overview shows, there are *many* new
> pieces of software being created to automate peer review and journal
> publication, all designed to make journal publishing faster, cheaper,
> and more efficient.
> What has this to do with any pressing problem facing the university
> (such as research access, research impact, or the serials crisis)?
> > The idea for institutional repositories arose out of the need to
> > archive the increasing amount of data researchers now store on their
> > hard drives or display on their web sites. The data in the repository
> > are indexed with meta-tags that allow a variety of search strategies,
> > and the repository software provides the framework for checking data
> > in, storing it, and retrieving it via a web interface. A repository
> > can also serve as a preprint server, where researchers can solicit
> > comments on unpublished work.
> But what does this research data-archiving -- an excellent idea
> and a
> subset of RES -- have to do with EPUB? And why are unrefereed preprints
> (an excellent and welcome bonus) singled out for self-archiving when it
> is peer-reviewed, published postprints to which access is most urgently
> needed?
> > An important development in the creation of repositories came last
> > fall with the launch of DSpace, a repository software platform
> > developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in
> > collaboration with Hewlett-Packard. The DSpace software can be
> > downloaded for free, and about 3400 individuals and institutions
> > have now done so.
> And so can a lot of other software, as indicated earlier in this
> discussion thread. But what universities need now is not more software
> but a much clearer idea of what to do with it, and why!
> > A consortium of universities, called the DSpace Federation,
> > is beta-testing the software. The Federation includes Columbia
> > University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, University
> > of Rochester, University of Washington, University of Toronto,
> > and Cambridge University.
> Meanwhile, at least 72 universities are already running eprint archives,
> some for as long as 2 years: So what? The
> archives need filling. And to understand why they need filling, and with
> what they need filling, I. - V. have to be separated and each dealt with
> in its own right, on its own agenda. Conflating the five just keeps
> everything at the beta-testing stage!
> > The DSpace software contains no rules on who can enter data, what
> > kinds of data can be accepted, or who can access them. Instead,
> > the DSpace users set up "communities" and establish their own terms
> > of use.
> What the university community needs is a clear idea of what these
> archives are for, and how to go about filling them. I may be wrong, but
> at this moment the rationale and urgency for RES (I), the self-archiving
> of research output, pre- and post-peer-review, seems to vastly outweigh
> that of the other four. But, more important, RES is so distinct from the
> other four that it would almost be better if we did not think of all
> five as just different "superarchive" functions, but as independent
> university functions in their own right. And I don't know about the
> other four, but I am pretty sure that RES is better served
> by having a lot of OAI-interoperable departmental archives
> rather than one
> university monster-archive (especially if the central superarchive would
> conflate I - V!): Isn't that sort of integrable distribution of the
> burden part of the rationale for OAI interoperability?
> > One federation member that plans to use DSpace to further its goal of
> > providing free access to peer-reviewed content is Cornell University.
> > Among the reasons for doing this is the feeling that the existing
> > publishing model isn't serving universities well, said J. Robert
> > Cooke, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and dean
> > of the faculty at Cornell. "Long ago we outsourced publishing to
> > [commercial] publishers," said Cooke. "Now we need to take it back."
> So (to put it graphically): Is Cornell University planning to make its
> Science and Nature publications open-access by self-archiving them (RES),
> or is it planning to create Cornell House-Journals to publish them in
> instead (EPUB), rather than of "outsourcing" them to the established
> peer-reviewed journals?
> > Repositories can serve as a bargaining chip for universities in
> > the debate over the future of scholarly publishing, believes Hal
> > Abelson, MIT Class of 1922 professor of computer science. "We [the
> > universities] have something to bring to the table," said Abelson.
> Fine, but what, exactly, are we bargaining about? Open access to our own
> peer-reviewed research output? But we can already have that by
> self-archiving it in our eprint archives (RES)! What has this to do with
> universities trying to get more involved in electronic publication
> (EPUB)?
> Or does Hal Abelson mean universities should pressure publishers to
> make sure they have updated their copyright agreements to formally
> support self-archiving? That is a good idea, but there is considerable
> momentum there already, with 55% of publishers already formally
> supporting self-archiving, and most of the other agreeing if asked on an
> individual basis.
> Policies.htm
> By that token, the RES archives should be at least 55% full already!
> But I agree that universities have leverage here -- although it has little
> to do with EPUB: It is because *authors* want and need maximal research
> impact that publishers have little choice but to support self-archiving,
> not because universities threaten to become journal-publishers [EPUB].
> > But Harold Varmus, president and chief executive officer of Memorial
> > Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and cofounder of the
> > Public Library of Science -- which later this year plans to publish two
> > new open-access biomedical journals -- is skeptical about the idea that
> > repositories themselves will help to bring about change. He emphasized
> > that journals, not repositories, are the primary record of science.
> > "They [repositories] are not going to replace the idea of having an
> > investigator write up results," said Varmus.
> And Hal Varmus is of course right. Self-archived, unrefereed preprints
> in one's university eprint archive are merely vanity-press until/unless
> they are submitted for independent, expert peer-review by a peer-review
> service-provider with established quality-standards that would-be users
> of those findings can rely upon. Such a service has to be "outsourced"
> and it happens to be performed at the moment by 20,000 peer-reviewed
> journals, with their own established expertise, quality-standards and
> known track-records.
> The problem is not "repatriating" that peer-review service. It has to
> continue to be an autonomous, 3rd-party service. The problem is access
> to its *outcome*: The refereed final drafts. Self-archiving solves that
> problem, not by providing a substitute for journals but by supplementing
> access to their full-text contents (toll-free).
> Hal Varmus himself conflated EPUB and RES somewhat in the original
> version of his otherwise splendid and timely EBiomed proposal, but it
> is clear that this has since been thought through and sorted out.
> > Repositories won't make journals go away, agreed Rick Johnson,
> > enterprise director at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources
> > Coalition (SPARC), a group that advocates an open model of scientific
> > publishing. But, said Johnson, "They begin a process of change that
> > will bring about emergence of different business models that support
> > science communication."
> Self-archiving (RES) provides open access, immediately. That's what's
> urgently needed by the research community. New business models for
> refereed journal publishing may follow, but what is needed *now* is
> self-archiving.
> > Johnson thinks the availability of preprints, data sets, and images
> > will spur communication and feedback among fellow scientists. "People
> > will say, 'Gee, my research is hidden behind toll gates today. If
> > it was not hidden, imagine what kind of impact it could have.'"
> One can hardly disagree, now that SPARC is beginning to come round to
> that sensible view! (It is not that long since SPARC's only visible goal
> was lower journal prices!)
> But it is not just, or even primarily, about (unrefereed) preprints,
> data sets and images. It is about toll-free access to *refereed
> research.* SPARC needs to be much clearer on that, otherwise they too are
> contributing to the gridlock that comes from conflating I. - V.
> > At the very least, these superarchives will draw universities into
> > the ongoing debate over who should be the gatekeeper of scientific
> > information. But Pieter Bolman, vice president and director of
> > science, technology, and medical relations for Elsevier Science is
> > bullish about the continuing importance of subscription journals. He
> > said that although scientists may no longer need journals for
> > peer-review -- as they can set up their own systems for reviewing
> > papers -- they will continue to seek publication in the journals with
> > the best reputation.
> I will bet a good deal of money that Pieter Bolman did *not* say anything
> as patently nonsensical as that! (Pieter?) This was a journalist's
> own contribution to the confusion with which this simple domain is so
> rife! Pieter is fully aware that "gate-keeping" has to be outsourced,
> and that it is its track-record for gate-keeping that gives a journal
> its reputation, not merely its name.
> But this absurd picture of universities serving as their own
> gate-keepers (EPUB?) along with the idea that this will
> co-exist with journals subscribed to purely for their names is
> just one facet of the incoherent chimera -- like a 5-dimensional
> Escher-drawing -- that comes from conflating I. - V.! It's time
> to de-conflate.
> > One issue that the emergence of repositories brings to the fore is
> > that of copyright. Most scholarly journals acquire copyright from the
> > author and grant certain rights in return. The exact terms of this
> > agreement vary widely, said Jane Ginsburg, an expert in copyright
> > law at Columbia Law School in New York.
> Indeed. But the only *relevant* term insofar as the refereed research
> literature is concerned is whether or not they allow self-archiving --
> and, regarding *that*, journals are quickly, sensibly, and responsibly
> converging on the optimal and inevitable outcome:
> Policies.htm
> > Many journals grant authors the right to post the article on a
> > personal or university web site. However, "It is one thing if a
> > bunch of individual professors put papers on their web sites, but
> > it might be another matter if a university does it," said Ginsburg.
> No, in the age of OAI-interoperability it does not matter in the
> slightest whether it is individual professors or their universities who
> self-archive their papers -- as long as the site is OAI-compliant. But
> where universities and even governmental research-funding agencies can
> help is in extending their existing "publish or perish" carrot/stick
> to :"publish and self-archive" (for maximal research impact):
> > Mary Waltham, a former publisher of the Nature journals and
> > now a consultant for the publishing industry, can see that
> > happening. "Search tools are becoming better, and my own personal
> > view is that at some point, one will be able to search the Internet
> > and find copies of these articles in repositories," said Waltham.
> Yes, but it is not search tools that will make that day come, but a
> systematic institutional policy of self-archiving those articles in those
> institutional repositories! To sort that out, II-V have to be
> disentangled from the all important I (RES).
> Amen.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jun 24 2003 - 15:21:45 BST

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