Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2003 23:25:16 +0100

[This is the reply to a query about the founding of a new disciplinary
open-access archive]

Congratulations on [archive name deleted]. Such central archives for
self-archiving are very useful and welcome. What will accelerate
self-archiving and open access still further, though, is institutions
self-archiving their own refereed research publications, in all
disciplines. (There don't exist central archives in all disciplines,
and central archives do not share joint interests [publish-or-perish,
citation-impact] with institutional researchers in the way their own
institutional archives do.)

What your archive will need, if its content is to grow, is some sort of
disciplinary or national policy of self-archiving in [country deleted]
It will not fill of its own accord. (CogPrints does not either.)

> We would like to archive documents of [other-country] authors too, but we
> think copyright might be a problem. All authors [from our country] archiving
> their documents in [archive-name] sign an agreement. This agreement
> basically guarantees that no publisher's copyright is harmed by
> publishing this document in [archive-name]. In return we give the authors
> the right to delete the document from [archive-name]
> whenever they want to. We think this might be an obstacle for archiving
> documents authors [from other countries]: Our legal advisor told us that
> it is not simply possible to translate our agreement because American
> Copyright differs in very many ways from [our country's] copyright.
> Do you know about any agreements used by American Open Access Archives?
> Perhaps we might use the agreements in order to open [archive-name]
> to American Authors too.

Although you may wish to look at Project Romeo
my (layman's) advice would be that what you describe above is
fine. Authors indicate that the article is theirs and they are entitled to
self-archive it; they may remove it if they wish (but are not encouraged);
and if the copyright agreement turns out not to allow self-archiving,
and the copyright-holder notifies you, then the archive itself will
remove it.

I might add that one of the problems (though it is a minor one) of
central archives, instead of the author's own institutional archives,
is that some publishers might (just might) be more inclined to request
removal from 3rd-party archives (i.e., neither the publisher's own nor
the author's own institutional archive), construing them (dubiously)
as 3rd-party publishers: This does not apply to the author's own
institutional archive, of course:

I also suggest you always refer to self-archiving as self-archiving,
not (as you do in your statement above) as "publishing": The article is
published in the journal, and then that publication is self-archived
by its author in order to maximize its research impact by making
it open-access. It is clear that when the author self-archives his
own publication in his own institutional research archive he is not
*publishing* it: It is *already* published.
Because of the nature of the web (and of open access), exactly the
same is true if he self-archives it in a central archive (as long as it
is not a publisher, re-publishing or re-selling the article), but the
author's own institutional archive is on more obviously firm ground there
(although in reality the difference is trivial, and will assuredly come
to be recognized as such once the air clears).

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:
Received on Tue Aug 05 2003 - 23:25:16 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:01 GMT