Doctoral studies of open-access provision

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 17:27:20 +0000

[Identity deleted] wrote:

> I have been working on the theme of my thesis and I am now very happy
> to tell you that my university [deleted] have recently agreed on the
> proposal that I presented to mount an institutional repository. We intend
> to implement the E-prints software and probably the next 8 months will
> be critical because of the necessary previous definitions about rights
> (copyright, management, etc.). Although this is not the core of the
> thesis, it will help me reach conclusions. I know that this is a hard
> task and maybe you can give me/us some advice on it.

Setting up an archive is not a hard task, and does not consitite a thesis.

Setting up and implementing an institutional open-access provision
policy that will successfully *fill* the archive is indeed a hard task,
and certainly the basis for a thesis.

The outlines of a generic policy are obvious, but how to implement
it successfully is far from obvious, and only a few institutions have
succeeded in doing so yet. For data, I suggest you contact the dozen
or so biggest of the 100+ archives listed at in order to
discover what is behind their success.

> I intend to involve the main research centers of the University which
> reflect almost all the Faculties. I have also been working hard on the
> development of a questionnaire to understand the practices of consumption
> and publication of this different areas (pure and applied science,
> technology, medicine, humanities, social sciences...), and cultural trends
> that could constitute (or not) an obstacle to open access philosophy.

I suggest not turning this into an opinion poll among uninformed
non-archivers (i.e., almost everyone today). That is just the blind
leading the blind (in circles!).

Find out what the different disciplines publish. Focus primarily on journal
articles (and perhaps also theses). For books, and book-based disciplines,
recommend only archiving the metadata and references: full-text must be left
optional in those cases:

Don't worry about their present "consumption"! When the full-texts are
accessible free online, their consumption habits will change. They will
not change from being polled now! Nor will present opinions and practices
be informative. See also:

> The few interviews I have already done reinforce the idea that people
> don't usually know about copyright policies and *gladly* sign the
> *copyright agreement* (on the other hand they *gladly* put the same
> copyrighted articles online...). I think that the definition of the
> politics of copyright must be one of the priorities of the prototype
> since it could help people to be aware of their power and stop immediately
> with this situation.

Absolutely not. Copyright should be de-emphasized. It is a red herring. Be
prepared to answer those who raise questions about it, but do *not* make it a
focus of your efforts. The default assumption (for journal articles) should be
that the author can and should self-archive the full-texts. If questions are
raised, point out the advice in:
and ff., and also ask the author to check:

Open-access provision is *none* of the following:

OA is not (1) something that depends on retaining reforming copyright
OA is not (2) only or mainly = OA publishing
OA is not (3) because "all knowledge should be free."
OA is not (4) to resolve the library budget crisis

OA is open-access provision by researchers for the sake of maximising
the usage, impact, progress and productivity of their own research.
Because this reciprocal, it maximises the progress and productivity
of everyone's research.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
        Hypermail Archive:

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.

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Received on Thu Jan 08 2004 - 17:27:20 GMT

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