Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 15:26:20 +0100

On Sun, 28 Sep 2003 wrote:

> Quoting Stevan Harnad <>:
>sh> The distinction between a "personal website" and an "institutional
>sh> website" is completely empty, hence untenable. Researchers' websites,
>sh> provided for them at their institutions, are simply a disk sector.
> I think there is a significant difference in practice, if not in law,
> between a University's general-purpose website (which might well contain a
> personal page about each faculty member) and an OAI-compliant e-prints
> server which the University had set up specifically for providing access to
> its members' publications.

Yes, there is a very big difference in practice (and not in law) between
self-archiving interoperably and self-archiving arbitrarily. That is why
the above comment ended with:

    "OAI compliance is irrelevant to the distinction, but highly desirable
    for functionality.

I might have added that the reason the BOAI (Budapest Open ACCESS
Initiative) and other open-access movements are so closely associated
with the OAI (Open ARCHIVE Initiative) -- and the reason the free
archive-creating software we designed to facilitate ad accelerate
self-archiving was made to create OAI-compliant archives
(http:/ -- was precisely so as to provide this important

But the background question and answer remain the same: There is no legal
difference whatosever between a "personal website" and an "institutional
website," and self-archiving authors should ignore completely any
attempts to make such a distinction, or to apply conditions on the basis
of such a distinction. The distinction is vacuous. (No one can legislate
how an author applies the metadata tags AUTHORNAME, TITLE, JOURNALNAME,
or DATE to his self-archived paper so as to make it interoperable with
other such papers. Period. And that's all OAI-compliance amounts to!)

> Publications mounted on the latter would be
> more accessible to searchers than ones mounted on the former.

The first red herring is whether the disk sector is labeled
"my-website" or "my-sector-of-my-departmental-erint-archive". This
distinction is vacuous and carries no legal weight. The second red
herring is whether the metadata tags accompanying my text include the
OAI identifiers AUTHORNAME, etc. Again, not a legal matter and not the
business of any other party but myself (and my institution.)

So, not legal difference, but a *big* functional difference. So
self-archive. And self-archive OAI-compliantly.

> While we are
> rightly concerned primarily with making the scholarly literature available
> on the WWW free of charge, we cannot ignore the question (actually the
> classical librarian/information scientist's question!) of how people are
> going to find the items they want amongst the enormous mass that is there.

We ae not ignoring it, and that is precisely why (and
dspace, and other) eprints archives are OAI-compliant, and why OAI
service providers like OAIster selectively harvest their metadata:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sun Sep 28 2003 - 15:26:20 BST

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