Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 21:54:14 +0000

On Sun, 9 Nov 2003, Neil Beagrie wrote:

> the final version of the report by Maggie Jones from the e-journal
> archiving study is now available in pdf on the jisc website at

This report has useful information for those who are interested in
licensed toll-access journal content and in the preservation (archiving)
of such licensed content, but it unfortunately misunderstands the relation
between the archiving concerns for such licensed (i.e., bought-in) toll-access
content and the concerns and purposes of the self-archiving of researchers'
own institutional research output (mostly also published in toll-access journals).

The report is right that this is a *parallel* form of archiving, but it
is in error about what is actually paralleling what! The relevant passages

> "E-Print Repositories: The rapid escalation of e-print repositories has
> been regarded by some of its champions as a potential replacement
> for more traditional scholarly communication provided by licensed
> e-journals."

All kinds of things have no doubt been said by all kinds of champions and
challengers, but the standpoint of the Budapest Open Access Initiative
(BOAI) on self-archiving is quite clear: Self-archiving in eprint archives
is an alternative way of providing access -- *open access* -- to the
*very same articles*, i.e., the articles that authors have published
in toll-access journals. Hence eprint archives are not *replacements*
(substitutes) for the journals but *supplements* to them, intended to
allow authors to provide access to their articles for all those would-be
users whose institutions cannot afford the tolls for the toll-access

> "The emphasis to date has been on encouraging scholars to
> deposit content into the archives, rather than on preservation
> requirements. Indeed some proponents of e-print repositories argue
> against considering preservation requirements at this stage as being
> largely irrelevant for the time being and something which can be
> considered later (if at all)."

Once it is at last understood that the self-archived versions in
the eprint archives are supplements to rather than substitutes for the
toll-access versions, it will perhaps also be at last understood that the
primary preservation burden is not on those supplements, self-provided only
to maximise access and impact. The primary preservation burden is on
the proprietary toll-access versions. Those are the ones that publishers
sell and those are the ones that libraries buy; and as long as that buying and
selling goes on, those are also the parties responsible for the permanence
of the proprietary product, *not* the authors (and their institutions),
who are only providing a supplementary version in order to provide access
for those would-be users who cannot afford the proprietary version.

Yes, the self-archivers are interested in providing open-access to
their work not only today, but tomorrow, and after-tomorrow. And they
are doing so. The work self-archived in the Physics Arxiv in 1991,
for example, is still alive and well, fully useable and used, in 2003,
thank you very much, and was even successfully retro-fitted for
OAI-compliance in 1999. And all this self-archived work will continue
to be kept openly accessible by researchers and their institutions. And
some day, possibly, if and when the access-tolls are no longer being paid
at all, and all archiving is offloaded on the network of OAI-compliant
eprint archives, *then* the eprint archives can take over the primary
burden of archiving too.

But for now, they are only a parallel form of *access-provision* to the
very same literature, and they are not the ones that have, or should
worry about, the primary preservation burden. Nor are they alternatives
to the journals; they are just alternative forms of access. If/when
the "golden" option prevails, and all journals convert to open-access,
covering costs from author/institution submission fees, per paper, instead
of reader/institution toll-access fees, per journal, then these archives
will be poised to assume the preservation burden. But at no time will
this mean that eprint archives "replace" journals: It merely means that
open-access journals will become essentially peer-review service providers
and certifiers rather than the providers of a paper or online text.

Short form: Access-provision will become unbundled from publication
(for the refereed research literature). Publication will mean having been
accepted as meeting the established peer-review quality standards of a
journal. Authors provide the research and the text. The journal provides
the peer-review (and editing) service. And the network of OAI-interoperable
institutional eprint archives provides the access.

> "As these repositories will be expected to contain valuable scholarly
> resources, it is to be hoped that their preservation will be taken
> into consideration and a related JISC funded study is currently
> investigating this [24]."

It is no doubt the needless proliferation of synonyms, near-synonyms,
and euphemisms that keeps us so confused about the purposes of
eprint archives. Can I propose that we reserve the term "institutional
repository" for all the *other* things an institution may wish to archive,
manage and preserve: bought-in toll-access digital content, institutional
input *other* than peer-reviewed articles (pre- and post-peer-review),
such as courseware, etc., and any e-publishing ventures institutions
may be contemplating to increase their revenue streams.

That way we can reserve "eprint archives" for the specific content
targeted by the BOAI, namely, institutional refereed-research output,
self-archived in order to maximize its impact by maximizing access to it.

> "In the meantime, the immediate concern of libraries is whether they
> can rely on continued access to material they have paid for through
> licences. While there will be overlapping issues to be addressed in
> preserving licensed e-journals and e-prints, at this stage they need
> to be considered separately. The development of e-print repositories
> should be watched with interest and offer the potential for more
> rapid access to scholarly research. However, this study recommends
> they should not be regarded as a complete substitute for licensed
> e-journals but as a parallel development."

As long as the *nature* of this parallelism is clearly understood,
the above seems like a very reasonable recommendation!

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: 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):
    Posted discussion to:

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Sun Nov 09 2003 - 21:54:14 GMT

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