Re: Draft Policy for Self-Archiving University Research Output

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 17:47:54 +0000

On Fri, 26 Dec 2003, N.V. Joshi wrote:

> Something about possible duplication of information was bothering me for
> some time, and the word 'otherwise' (underlined below) prompted this mail
> and the two questions.
> > (OAJ) Researchers publish their research in an
> > open-access journal if a suitable one exists [5%], *otherwise*
> > (OAA) they publish it in a suitable toll-access
> > journal [95%] and also self-archive it in their own research
> > institution's open-access research archive.
> (1) Are there any guidelines about self-archiving (adding to the
> Institutional E-print server) articles which have been published in 'gold'
> [open-access] journals?

I think there is a thread of misunderstanding here. The big challenge
-- and the big unexploited resource -- is not the self-archiving of
open-access ("gold") journal articles (5%)! The main function and power of
author/institution self-archiving is to provide immediate open access
to *toll-access* journal articles (95%).

Self-archiving of open-access journal articles is of course possible and welcome
too, for a number of reasons, but these reasons are relatively minor and secondary
for these articles, as they are openly accessible already -- which is the main
objective of the open-access movement!

The secondary reasons one might wish to self-archive open-access journal articles
too are:

    (i) It would make one's institutional research output archives
    complete (rather than containing only the institution's toll-access
    journal article output). Completeness would be useful for various
    institutional compliance-monitoring, assessment, and scientometric

    (ii) Open-access journal articles provide a fast, easy way to "seed"
    an institutional archive with readily available and archivable
    articles, even before filling it with the toll-access journal article

    (iii) In cases where the institutional open-access archive is
    OAI-compliant and the open-access journal's archive is not, the
    OAI-compliant institutional archive will provide greater functionality
    (because of interoperability).

It is for these reasons that the draft institutional self-archiving policy
contains this clause:

    "[5] If your article has appeared in an Open Access Journal it is
    sufficient to archive its metadata, its reference list and the URL
    of its full-text in the journal's OAI-compliant Archive: but you are
    nevertheless encouraged to archive the full text in the departmental
    archive as well."

> The disadvantages due to duplication are probably self-evident. However,
> not all 'gold' journals provide good search facilities. Secondly, it may
> not be easy (at least for some of the gold journals) for them to make
> their holdings easily accessible for the search engines of other archives.

If the open-access journal archive is OAI-compliant, there is no problem,
it does not matter where it is. If it is not OAI-compliant, it is a good
idea to self-archive its articles in each author's own institutional
open-access archive too.

> Fortunately, an excellent E-print archive facilty has been set up
> at our institute (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India) by
> Dr. Rajashekar. Unfortunately (and perhaps expectedly) the response
> from the reseachers has been lukewarm at best. The Institute publishes
> more than a thousand papers in peer reviewed journals every year, and
> a sizable fraction is in the 'gold' journals.

The lukewarmness of spontaneous open-access provision in the absence of a
systematic institutional policy of open-access provision is the reason the
draft policy was forumulated and offered as a model for adoption! But the
open-access journal articles are the easiest content to provide. Someone
at the institution need merely enter the metadata, and then the full-text
can be downloaded from the open-access journal's site!

(It would be interesting to know how sizeable is the fraction of IIS
research output that is published in open-access [gold] journals, given
that only about 1000/24,000 or 5% of journals are gold today: )

> A simple 'go ahead' from the authors would (I suppose) be adequate for
> the Administration to download the articles from the gold journals and
> deposit them in the archives (after doing that small but crucial bit of
> work for making appropriate entries). But before such an initiative is
> launched, I wanted to know if there are any problems that may crop up
> later and which I have missed.

An author's own institution certainly does not have to ask the author's
permission to deposit the author's own open-access journal articles
in the author's own institutional research archive! The articles are
open-access already! The only case where any question of "permission"
arises is with toll-access journal articles. There, the "green" journals
(55%) have already given self-archiving their blessing
many of the remaining 45% will do so if asked, and the preprint+corrigenda
strategy can be used for the rest:

So it is not the author's go-ahead for self-archiving that is needed by the
author's institution! What is needed is for the institution to formulate and
implement an open-access provision policy (of which self-archiving is the
critical component).

> (2) How are "toll-free but registration required" journals to be
> classified? The DOAJ permits listing such journals, but the issue of
> searchability probably becomes more serious for these.

If they provide toll-free full-text access (without any gerrymandering
of the downloads) they are open-access journals, and should be classified
as such. But it is true that the journal versions in such cases (registration
required) would have less functionality, because part of the power and benefit
of open-access is the possibility of harvesting the metadata, citation-linking
them -- as done by -- and
gathering them all into a global virtual archive like

But, to repeat, the biggest challenge and greatest rewards concern getting
the institutional toll-access journal article output self-archived in
the institution's open-access archive.

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 Open Access Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Post discussion to:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    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 Fri Dec 26 2003 - 17:47:54 GMT

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