Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving

From: David Goodman <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 08:43:30 +0100

    Prior Threads:
    "Central versus institutional self-archiving"

    "Open Access Journal Start-Ups: A Cost-Cutting Proposal"

    "Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving"

I am replying both to Heather's posting, and to several recent postings
of Stevan's, in both this thread "Open Access Journal Start-Ups: A
Cost-Cutting Proposal" and in "Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for
Open Access Self-Archiving.

Stevan is quite right to regard Elsevier's improved standard as a
significant move towards open access, as in important respects it is
better than before, which he has well explained. It is now better than
some of their competitors, which surely will cause them to improve
to at least the same level. It is better than many of the societies,
that will have a similar effect. It is equal to some of the societies',
which will I hope lead them to improve further.
But it is nonetheless wrong to regard Elsevier's standard as
adequate. Steve is almost always proposing his method of archiving as
a supplemental repository to true journal publication. Judged by these
standards, it is still lacking in two important respects:

1. The growth of archiving will be greatly facilitated by the growth of
the disciplinary archives, such as Cogprints They're an obvious place
to post, and an obvious place to look. Very few universities have BOAI
compliant archives now, (neither my present nor my former one does).
As Stevan has repeatedly said, the immediate job is to get as much current
work as possible into compliant archives. It will only delay things if
the job requires as a preliminary, to get one's university to establish
a proper archive. The policy of the publisher concerned, which prohibits
the use of such extra-university archives, is thus a major hindrance.
Do we want results in '04? we will get them much faster if we didn't
first have to establish several hundred archives. (I am possibly being
cynical about them, but I think the publisher is well aware of the
extent to which this will delay archiving. I doubt they are afraid of
someone re-gathering the articles into alternative publications. Why
would anyone buy a journal which contained only the articles from a
journal whose authors chose to post them?)

2. The use of archiving will be significantly facilitated by accurate
archives. The differences between the author's final version and
the journals may sometimes be trivial--perhaps they are for someone
of excellent writing skills-- but they will sometimes be very
great. Expecting authors to correct their version in accordance is
asking for only a few of the most dedicated will do. I am not aware
of many biologists whose refereed but not copy-edited manuscript I
would trust to accurately convey their meaning. The policy of Elsevier,
which prohibits the use of that final edited version is thus intended
not to facilitate the dissemination of accurate scientific information,
but to aid in the survival of its journals. An understandable objective
for them--but not one worthy of general celebration.

I use color analogies only in a joking manner, but I would judge
Elsevier no longer only the faintest recognizable green, but just two
perceptual steps darker. Perhaps we should give these numerically ,
as RGB coordinates. :)

3. But Stevan also has proposed in a recent posting the use of such
archives as the primary publication medium for a new journal. And here
the standards are much higher. They are as high as what we already
expect of good journals: guarantees of permanence, backup, accuracy,
stability, quality of editing, and so on--all the things that the best
publishers have been providing-- at great expense.

4. For this purpose, I proposed that disciplinary archives are better than
institutional, and Stevan proposed exactly the opposite. I acknowledge the
correctness of his criticism of discipline-based independent archives:
they lack institutional and financial stability. But Stevan is as wrong
(or as right) as I am: University archives are also unacceptable for
this use. Heather gives some of the reasons: the lack of commitment to
maintain archives for those who have left the university by change of
position, retirement, or death. I suggest also that the commitment of the
present university administration may not extent into the future. What
this Dean is eager to do may not seem very important to the next one. I
do not want to fill up this list with anecdotes; examples are manifold.

5. Since clearly neither can be shown to be reliable,* is there a
solution? Yes, exactly the same one as for conventional journals. A
permanent archive must be guaranteed by at least several national
libraries or their equivalents. We accept nothing less from a publisher:
we would hardly be prepared to discontinue print if we knew only that one
university somewhere promised a copy would always be available. More
than one nation is needed because of political risk--examples
should be obvious. LOCKSS is a major step, but unlike supplementary
repositories, this level of assurance can not rely on chance, but will
require coordination. There are many groups that could undertake this,
including librarians.

But I emphasize that everything above in paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 is
only for true primary publication, such as Stevan recommended to an
[identity withheld] inquirer in his earlier posting . Cheap surrogates
for journals can appropriately have cheap standards.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

(and, formerly: Princeton University Library)

*when it is a question of reliability, if some of those knowledgeable
think it reliable and some not, the only safe conclusion is that its
reliability has not been demonstrated.
Received on Fri Jun 11 2004 - 08:43:30 BST

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