Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 09:52:07 +0000

    "Central versus institutional self-archiving"

Depositing articles -- by authors who are immediately ready to deposit
them today -- into existing Central Archives such as Arxiv, Cogprints
or Bioline is a good idea, but it is extremely important not to let that
replace systematic and general efforts to ensure that every institution
also establishes its own eprint archives, and self-archiving policy
(and policy fulfillment), and hence that Open Access (OA) grows and
generalizes to all articles from all institutions in all disciplines

It is universal institutional action that is needed: They (the
universities and research institutions worldwide) are the sources of
all the articles; they are the ones who need to establish their own
systematic and monitored policy of self-archiving their own research;
they produce research in all disciplines, not just physics, or cognitive
science, or biology. Institutional self-archiving (OAI-interoperable)
is the general solution for arriving at universal OA at last, the natural
means, the one that fully engages institutions in open-access provision
for all of their own output, in all of their disciplines; it is the means
they can identify with, "own," and control.

Offloading self-archiving on central archives like Bioline is a good
immediate solution for those articles that their authors are ready
and willing to self-archive today, when their institutions do not yet
have eprint archives today. But in fulfilling this immediate need, it
also risks joining the many, many factors (like an exclusive focus on
OA journals) that slow and even impede the overall solution, producing
limited OA for a special subset of articles, but failing to generalize
to most or all of them.

So please continue to stress the universal institutional self-archiving
solution, and treat central archiving as a provisional supplement to it,
rather than a way of handling the easy cases now, and forgetting about
the hard ones (the vast majority)!

Institutions all need their own eprint archives and their own
eprint-archive-filling policies, for all of their research output, not
just central archives in physics or biology for the output that some
of their authors already happen to be ready to self-archive. Moreover,
setting up, maintaining, and monitoring institutional eprint archives is
so easy and inexpensive to do: it is important to cultivate the motivation
and expertise to do it, rather than just to redirect existing motivation
to central archives.

In the end, of course, once all articles are being self-archived, the
distinction between local and central archiving will not matter at all,
because of OAI-interoperability.

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives"

But now, when most of it is not, the difference matters very much,
for the growth of OA. Please don't let your efforts become diverted to
a side-street!

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.
Received on Sun Mar 07 2004 - 09:52:07 GMT

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