Re: Developing an agenda for institutional e-print archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 14:28:35 +0100 (BST)

On Mon, 31 May 2004, Colin Steele wrote:

> I know that much of the debate focuses on specific issues, for example,
> with the self-archiving option. I have no disagreement with this but I
> believe in the long-term that we have to work within and focus on a
> holistic approach to scholarly communication, see for example,

Before we delve into Holism, would it not be a good idea to grasp
that part that is within our immediate reach: Open Access (OA) through
immediate self-archiving of all the annual 2.5 million articles in the
world's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals?

> As a number of commentators have mentioned, such as Fred Friend and
> Stephen Pinfield, the current issue with institutional repositories is to
> increase their population.

Indeed. And there is a very simple and certain way to fill those institutional OA
archives (sic) and that is to adopt institutional policies requiring it:

Swan & Brown (2004)

    "asked authors to say how they would feel if their employer or funding
    body required them to deposit copies of their published articles in
    one or more... repositories. The vast majority... said they would
    do so willingly."

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey
    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) Authors and open access publishing.
    Learned Publishing 2004:17(3) 219-224.

> The issues are political and social rather than
> technical. Institutional repositories in my opinion are far more than
> simply the STM post-prints, so to speak, and this is reflected in the
> depositing of material at ANU, both in the e-prints and D-Space
> repositories.

One problem with widening the OA archive-filling agenda to include
arbitrary digital contents rather than specifically focussing on journal
articles (and theses, and those monographs that also fit the author
give-away, impact-maximization model unproblematically) is that it
risks blurring and diffusing the OA target and merely diluting archive
contents, rather than focusing and filling!

    "EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

    "Publish or Perish: Self-Archive to Flourish"

> A way to proceed, which we are pursuing, and I know the
> Dutch are also following up with, is to link with the research offices and
> the research assessment exercises, which universities undertake. It is
> relatively simple to link the metadata and the full text across, from such
> exercises, into institutional repositories.

Indeed it is, and the proposal has already been formally made and mapped out:

    Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated
    online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the
    UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier.
    Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

> Until the academic community have the time and inclination to deposit
> material automatically then someone else must be the catalyst. Why should
> the library not take the lead and allocate staff time to this process? We
> collectively spend large amounts of time and hundreds of millions of
> dollars acquiring research information, considerable amounts of which are
> still little used electronically, so why can't we spend a small proportion
> of staff time on working with the academic community to place material in
> institutional repositories? As the amount of material increases, so will
> the spin-offs within an institutional setting, apart from the
> opportunities for new metrics in terms of citation/impact.

Excellent idea, and likewise already being recommended and implemented:

    "Let us Archive it for you!"

But libraries can only coax and assist. It is universities themselves that
must adopt self-archiving policies:
> The Elsevier ruling is undoubtedly welcome but will be somewhat cumbersome
> to implement in the context of each individual academic, and the library
> may need to be the facilitator with them. The vast majority of the
> academics surveyed in the recent UK City University Report, while
> "troubled" by publishers, continue to be unaware of a lot of the issues
> that we debate - what I have termed the sound of one hand clapping:

The publisher's green light to self-archive is certainly not sufficient
to induce authors to self-archive! What is needed to induce them to do it is:

    (1) the collection and energetic promotion
    of the objective evidence demonstrating the powerful usage/impact
    enhancing effects of self-archiving

    Brody, T., Stamerjohanns, H., Vallieres, F., Harnad, S. Gingras,
    Y., & Oppenheim, C. (2004) The effect of Open Access on Citation
    Impact. Presented at: National Policies on Open Access (OA) Provision
    for University Research Output: an International meeting, Southampton,
    19 February 2004.

    (2) the adoption of systematic institutional OA-provision policies

> If the global research libraries purchase material at an input level, at
> vast expense for the "public good" of their university, then the new
> models of e-press, e-prints and D-Space may well be early examples of the
> universities funding "public good" output of their institution. This is a
> different attitude to the way that university presses have been regarded
> in the past and subsequently closed down. The CIC Report on Scholarly
> Publishing, issued earlier this year, also reflects on the need for new
> modes of scholarly communication and interrelationship.

University self-archiving of its own published journal-article outputs in
order to provide Open Access to them is *not* an instance of university
digital publishing and has nothing at all to do with university presses (not
even when they happen to be the publishers of the journal in which the
self-archived article appears).

Just as it is important to focus on journal articles (plus theses and some
monographs) in the context of OA, it is important to focus on university
OA eprint archives as a means of making university publications OA:
not as the means of publishing them!

> There is no simple solution, it's going to be hybrid and in the near
> future, messy and confusing, with a variety of models emerging and being
> tested and being vigorously fought over.

But whilst the theoretical models are being vigorously fought over,
can we just also be taking the completely atheoretical, practical step
of self-archiving our articles in the meantime?

> Let's not forget as a background
> to specific debates, however, that we are working within the big picture
> of scholarly communication and that change will be built upon the
> composite building blocks of the research knowledge process, all of which
> need to be examined but for which the research author and their
> administrative "masters" are the crucial catalysts.

To repeat: While those who are concerned with the big picture of scholarly
communication continue to analyze and debate it, it is ever so important
that the simple, little, non-theoretical things that start getting
done too (viz., self-archiving). Researchers are the only ones who can
self-archive. They will not be persuaded to do so by theories about the
future of scholarly communication, but by the carrot of empirical evidence
for the impact-enhancing power of OA, and by the stick of institutional
"publish with maximal impact" OA-provision policy.

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 May 31 2004 - 14:28:35 BST

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