Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving

From: Leslie Chan <chan_at_UTSC.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2004 09:48:22 -0500

on 3/7/04 4:52 AM, Stevan Harnad at wrote:

> "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
> worldwide.

Dear Stevan,
I am afraid you are promoting or committing your own Zeno's paralysis by
needlessly worrying about the possible impact of discipline based or
"central" archives on the diffusion of institutional archives. As you well
know, most archives are non-existent or near-empty. So filling the existing
archives, whether central or not, should be the priority. And with
OAI-interoperability, where the articles sit really doesn't matter.

Institutions will or will not set up archives based on their own local
reasons, and disciplinary archives will not factor into their decision.
Besides, discipline based archives predated institutional archives and one
could easily argue that the latter is impeding the growth of the former. I
see no evidence for either argument, and I don't see why the two kinds of
archives can't work closer together. In my view, any options that lower the
barrier to participation in the open access movement should be encouraged.
Nature, as you are fond of saying, will take care of the rest.

Keep in mind also that the Bioline eprints server
<> is intended for publishers, scholarly societies
and research institutions in developing countries that are unlikely to set
up their own servers due to economic, technical and all sorts of local
barriers. Setting up eprints archive may be "easy and inexpensive" for
some but not so for others.

We are of course mindful of the need for larger research institutions to set
up their own archives as this is the right strategy in the long run. This is
why our good friend Subbiah Arunachalam has been tirelessly promoting the
importance of institutional self-archiving in India, one institution at a
time. And sometimes that require taking "side-street" and paths less
traveled. Indeed you are the pioneer in this regard. In this exciting time
of transition, let the experiments bloom and lets not dissuade each other
from the same common cause.

May I suggest that just as the BOAI recommends two complementary open
access strategies (BOAI-1 and BOAI-2), let BOAI-1 further recommends the

    1. Deposit your articles in your own institutional archives according to
    local policy if one is available;

    2. If an archive does not exist at your institution, don't wait around
    for one to be setup. Deposit your publications in the most appropriate
    disciplinary or central archives NOW, and ask you institution to harvest
    the data from the disciplinary archive when one has been set up locally.

Bioline International

> 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 Mon Mar 08 2004 - 14:48:22 GMT

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