Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2004 16:10:43 +0000

On Mon, 8 Mar 2004, Leslie Chan wrote:

> most archives are non-existent or near-empty. So filling the existing
> archives, whether central or not, should be the priority...
> 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.


> discipline based archives predated institutional archives and one
> could easily argue that the latter is impeding the growth of the former

(Not impeding, for the very same reasons as above.)

But central/discipline-based archives have also failed to grow fast enough
within disciplines, even with their 10-year head-start, and, even more
important, they have failed to generalize fast enough across disciplines.

And there is a very plausible hypothesis as to *why* central/disciplinary
are slow to grow and generalize: That there is no common interest, no
shared cost/benefit equation, between researchers and their disciplines,
whereas there definitely is one between researchers and their institutions:
Researchers and their institutions share the benefits of research impact,
and the costs of impact loss (salaries, promotion, tenure, research
funding, prestige, prizes).

And it is institutions, not disciplines, that wield the publish-or-perish
carrot/stick, institutions that can mandate and monitor open-access provision for
their own researchers' output, just as they mandate and monitor publishing it.

Institutions can also distribute the load of archiving and monitoring compliance.
There is no such (self-)interest behind a central disciplinary archive.

But I don't want to put too fine a point on it. Both forms of
self-archiving are welcome, and to be encouraged, just as Leslie says. But
institutional self-archiving is, I think, a better bet, for the reasons
just listed.

> I don't see why the two kinds of archives can't work closer together.

Agreed, especially conjoined by the glue of OAI and the joint goal of OA!

> 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.

Agreed! (Though I hope some of those local barriers can be overcome.)

(Don't forget that I too run one of the bigger central archives, CogPrints, and
have now made it multidisciplinary, so it can host journals and articles that have
nowhere else to go. But the general solution is still local institutional
archiving, I believe, for the reasons listed.)

> 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
> following:
> 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 your institution to harvest
> the data from the disciplinary archive when one has been set up locally.

Absolutely, and I think that is an *excellent* algorithm! (Notice that in
the unified OA algorithm below, self-archiving is used generically, without
prejudice as to whether the archive is disciplinary or institutional!)

    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.

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:
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        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 - 16:10:43 GMT

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