Re: A Role for SPARC in Freeing the Refereed Literature

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2002 01:02:22 +0100 (BST)

                Self-Archiving, Self-Vetting,
                "Overlay Journals" and "Disaggregated Models":
    Comments on the SPARC Position Paper on Institutional Repositories

The SPARC position paper, "The Case for Institutional Repositories," is excellent and will serve a very
important and useful purpose in mapping out for universities exactly
why it is in their best interests to self-archive their research output,
and how they should go about doing so.

I will only comment on a few passages, having mostly to do with the topic
of "certification" (peer review) in which SPARC's message may have become
a little garbled along the same lines that like-minded precursor initiatives
(notably E-biomed and Scholar's Forum) have likewise been a little garbled:

    A Proposal for Electronic Publications in the Biomedical Sciences

    Scholars' Forum:
    A New Model For Scholarly Communication

To overview the point in question very briefly:

To provide open access (i.e., free, online, full-text access) to
the research output of universities and research institutions worldwide
-- output that is currently accessible only by paying access-tolls
to the 20,000 peer reviewed journals in which their 2 million annual
research papers are published -- does not call for or depend upon any
changes at all in the peer review system. On the contrary, it would
be a profound strategic (and factual) mistake to give the research
community the incorrect impression that there is or ought to be any sort
of link at all between opening access to their own research literature
by self-archiving it and any modification whatsoever in the peer review
system that currently controls and certifies the quality of that research.

The question of peer-review modification has absolutely nothing to do
with the institutional repositories and self-archiving that the SPARC
paper is advocating. The only thing that authors and institutions need to
be clearly and explicitly reassured about (because it is true) is that
self-archiving in institutional Eprints Archives will preserve intact
that very same peer-reviewed literature (2 million peer-reviewed papers
annually, in 20,000 peer-reviewed journals) to which it is designed to
provide open access.

Hence, apart from providing these reassurances, it is best to leave the
certification/peer-review issue alone!

Here is where this potentially misleading and counterproductive topic
is first introduced in the SPARC paper's section on "certification":

> CERTIFICATION. Most of the institutional repository initiatives
> currently being developed rely on user (including author) communities
> to control the input of content. These can include academic
> departments, research centers and labs, administrative groups, and
> other sub-groups. Faculty and others determine what content merits
> inclusion and act as arbiters for their own research communities. Any
> certification at the initial repository submission stage thus comes
> from the sponsoring community within the institution, and the rigor
> of qualitative review and certification will vary.

There is a deep potential ambiguity here. The SPARC paper MIGHT merely be
referring here to how much, and how, institutions might decide to self-vet
their own research output when it is still in the form of pre-peer-review
PREPRINTS, and that would be fine:

    "1.5. Distinguish unrefereed preprints from refereed postprints"

But this institutional self-vetting of whatever of its own pre-refereeing
research output a university decides to make public online should on no
account be described as "qualitative review and certification"! That would
instead be peer review, and peer review is the province of the qualified
expert referees (most of them affiliated with OTHER institutions, not
the author's institution) who are called upon formally by the editors of
independent peer-reviewed journals to referee the submissions to those
journals; this quality-review is not the province of the institution
that is submitting the research. Self-archiving is not self-publishing:

    "1.4. Distinguish self-publishing (vanity press) from self-archiving
    (of published, refereed research)"

It merely invites confusion to characterize whatever preliminary
self-vetting an institution may elect to do on the contents of the
unrefereed preprint sector of its Eprint Archives with what it is that
journals do when they implement peer review.

Worse, it might invite the conflation of self-archiving with
self-publishing, if what the SPARC paper has in mind here is not just
the unrefereed preprint sector of the institutional repository, but what
would be its refereed POSTPRINT sector, consisting of those papers that
are certified as having met a specific journal's established quality
standards after classical peer review has taken its standard course:

    "What is an Eprint Archive?"

    "What is an Eprint?"

    "What should be self-archived?"

    "What is the purpose of self-archiving?"

    "Is self-archiving publication?"

It is extremely important to clearly differentiate an institution's
self-vetting of the UNREFEREED sector of its archive from the external
quality control and certification provided by refereed journals and
eventually that subsequently yields the REFEREED sector of its
archive. Nothing is gained by conflating the two:

    "Peer-review reform: Why bother with peer review?"

> In some instances,
> the certification will be implicit and associative, deriving from
> the reputation of the author's host department. In others, it
> might involve more active review and vetting of the research by the
> author's departmental peers. While more formal than an associative
> certification, this certification would typically be less compelling
> than rigorous external peer review. Still, in addition to the primary
> level certification, this process helps ensure the relevance of the
> repository's content for the institution's authors and provides a
> peer-driven process that encourages faculty participation.

These are all reasonable possibilities for the preliminary self-selection
and self-vetting of an institution's unrefereed preprints. But implying
that they amount to anything more than that -- by using the term "peer"
for both this internal self-vetting and external peer review, and
suggesting that there is some sort of continuum of "compellingness"
between the two is not helpful or clarifying but instead leads to (quite
understandable) confusion and resistance on the part of researchers and
their institutions:

For, having read the above, the potential user who previously knew
the refereed journal literature -- consisting of 20,000 peer-reviewed
journals, 2 million refereed articles per year, each clearly certified
with each journal's quality-control label, and backed by its established
reputation and impact -- now no longer has a clear idea what literature we
might be talking about here! Are we talking about providing open access
to that same refereed literature, or are we talking about substituting
some home-grown, home-brew in its place?

Yet there is no need at all for this confusion: As correctly noted in the
SPARC paper, University Eprint Archives ("Institutional Repositories")
can have a variety of contents, but prominent among them will be the
university's own research output (self-archived for the sake of the
visibility, usage, impact, and their resulting individual and
institutional rewards, as well described elsewhere in the SPARC
paper). That institutional research output has, roughly, two embryonic
stages: pre-peer-review (unrefereed) PREPRINTS and post-peer-review
(refereed) POSTPRINTS:

Now the pre-peer-review preprint sector of the archive may well require
some internal self-vetting (this is up to the institution), but the
post-peer-review postprint sector certainly does not, for the "vetting"
there has been done -- as it always has been -- by the external referees
and editors of the journals to which those papers were submitted as
preprints, and by which they were accepted for publication (possibly
only after several rounds of substantive revision and re-refereeing)
once the refereeing process had transformed them into the postprints.

Nor is the internal self-vetting of the preprint sector any sort of
substitute for the external peer review that dynamically transforms the
preprints into refereed, journal-certified postprints.

In the above-quoted passage, the functions of the internal preprint
self-vetting and the external postprint refereeing/certification
are completely conflated -- and conflated, unfortunately, under what
appears like an institutional vanity-press penumbra, a taint that the
self-archiving initiative certainly does not need, if it is to encourage
the opening of access to its existing quality-controlled, certified
research literature, such as it is, rather than to some untested
substitute for it.

> It should
> be noted that to serve the primary registration and certification
> functions, a repository must have some official or formal standing
> within the institution. Informal, grassroots projects - however
> well-intentioned - would not serve this function until they receive
> official sanction.

Universities should certainly establish whatever internal standards they
see fit for pre-filtering their pre-refereeing research before making
it public. But the real filtration continues to be what it always was,
namely, classical peer review, implemented and certified as it always
was. This needs to be made crystal clear!

> OVERLAY JOURNALS: Third-party online journals that point to
> articles and research hosted by one or more repositories provide
> another mechanism for peer review certification in a disaggregated
> model.

Unfortunately, the current user of the existing, toll-access
refereed-journal literature is becoming more and more confused about
just what is actually being contemplated here! Does institutional
self-archiving mean that papers lose the quality-control and certification
of peer-reviewed journals and have it replaced by something else? By
what? And what is the evidence that we would then still have the same
literature we are talking about here? Does institutional self-archiving
mean giving up the established forms of quality control and certification
and replacing them by untested alternatives?

There also seems to be some confusion between the more neutral concept of

    (1) "overlay journals" (OJs) (e.g., Arthur Smith:, which merely use
    Eprint Archives for input (the online submission/refereeing of author
    self-archived preprints) and output (the official certification
    of author self-archived postprints as having been peer-reviewed,
    accepted and "published" by the OJ in question), but leave the
    classical peer review system intact;

and the vaguer and more controversial notion of

    (2) "deconstructed journals" (DJs) on the
    "disaggregated model" (e.g., John W.T. Smith:, in
    which (as far as I can ascertain) what is being contemplated is the
    self-archiving of preprints and their subsequent "submission" to one
    or many evaluating/certifying entities (some of which may be OJs,
    others some other unspecified kind of certifier) who give the papers
    their respective "stamps of approval."

JWT Smith has made some testable empirical conjectures, which could
eventually be tested in a future programme of empirical research on
alternative research quality review and certification systems. But
they certainly do not represent an already tested and already validated
("certified"?) alternative system, ready for implementation in place of
the 2 million annual research papers that currently appear in the 20,000
established refereed journals!

As such, untested speculations of this kind are perhaps a little out
of place in the context of a position paper that is recommending concrete
(and already tested) practical steps to be taken by universities in
order to maximize the visibility, accessibility and impact of their
research output (and perhaps eventually to relieve their library serials
budgetary burden too).

Author/institution self-archiving of research output -- both preprints
and postprints -- is a tested and proven SUPPLEMENT to the classical
journal peer review and publication system, but by no means a SUBSTITUTE
for it. Self-archiving in Open Access Eprint Archives has now been
going on for over a decade, and both its viability and its capacity to
increase research visibility and impact have been emporically demonstrated:

Substitutes for the existing journal peer review and publication system,
in contrast, require serious and systematic prior testing in their
own right; there is nothing anywhere near ready there for practical
recommendations other than the feasibility of Overlay Journals (OJs)
as a means of increasing the efficiency and speed and lowering the cost
of classical peer review. Almost no testing of any other model has been
done yet; there are no generalizable findings available, and there are
many prima facie problems with some of the proposed models (including JWT
Smith's "disaggregated" model, [DJs]) that have not even been addressed:

See the discussion (and some of the prima facie problems) of JWT Smith's
model under:

    "Alternative publishing models - was: Scholar's Forum: A New Model..."

    "Journals are Quality Certification Brand-Names"

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives"

    "The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)"

    "Workshop on Open Archives Initiative in Europe"

In contrast, there has been a recent announcement that the Journal of
Nonlinear Mathematical Physics
will become openly accessible as an "overlay journal" (OJ) on the Physics

This is certainly a welcome development -- but note that JNMP is a
classically peer-reviewed journal, and hence the "overlay" is not a
substitute for classical peer review: It merely increases the visibility,
accessibility and impact of the certified, peer-reviewed postprints while
at the same time providing a faster, more efficient and economical way
of processing submissions and implementing [classical] peer review online.

Indeed, Overlay Journals (OJs) are very much like the Open-Access Journals
that are the target of Budapest Open Access Strategy 2:

Deconstructed/Disaggregated Journals (DJs), in contrast, are a much
vaguer, more ambiguous, and more problematic concept, nowhere near ready
for recommendation in a SPARC position paper.

> While some of the content for overlay journals might have
> been previously published in refereed journals, other research
> may have only existed as a pre-print or work-in-progress.24

This is unfortunately beginning to conflate the notion of the "overlay"
journal (OJ) with some of the more speculative hypothetical features
of the "deconstructed" or "disaggregated" journal (DJ):

The (informal) notion of an overlay journal is quite simple: If
researchers are self-archiving their preprints and postprints in Eprint
Archives anyway, there is, apart from any remaining demand for paper
editions, no reason for a journal to put out its own separate edition at
all: Instead, the preprint can first be deposited in the preprint sector
of an Eprint Archive. The journal can be notified by the author that the
deposit is intended as a formal submission. The referees can review the
archived preprint. The author can revise it according to the editor's
disposition letter and the referee reports. The revised draft can again
be deposited and re-refereed as a revised preprint. Once a final draft
is accepted, that then becomes tagged as the journal-certified (refereed)

End of story. That is an "overlay" journal (OJ), with the postprint
permanently "certified" by the journal-name as having met that journal's
established quality standards. The peer review is classical, as always;
the only thing that has changed is the medium of implementation of the
peer review and the medium of publication (both changes being in the
direction of greater efficiency, functionality, speed, and economy).

A deconstructed/disaggregated journal (DJ) is an entirely different
matter. As far as I can ascertain, what is being contemplated there is
something like an approval system plus the possibility that the same
paper is approved by a number of different "journals." The underlying
assumptions are questionable:

(1) Peer review is neither a static red-light/green-light process nor
a grading system, singular or multiple: The preprint does not receive
one or a series of "tags." Peer review is a dynamic process of
mediated interactions between an author and expert referees, answerable
to an expert editor who selects the referees for their expertise and who
determines what has to be done to meet the journal's quality standards --
a process during which the content of the preprint undergoes substantive
revision, sometimes several rounds of it. The "grading" function comes
only after the preprint has been transformed by peer review into the
postprint, and consists of the journal's own ranking in the established
(and known) hierarchy of quality levels (often also associated with the
journal's citation impact factor).

It is not at all clear whether and how having raw preprints certified
as approved, singly or many times over, by a variety of "deconstructed
journals" (DJs) can yield a navigable, sign-posted literature of the known
quality and quality standards that we have currently. (And to instead
interactively transform them into postprints is simply to reinvent
peer review.)

(2) Even more important: Referees are a scarce resource. Referees
sacrifice their precious research time to perform this peer-reviewing
duty for free, normally at the specific request of the known editor
of a journal of known quality, and with the knowledge that the author
will be answerable to the editor. The result of this process is the
navigable, quality-controlled refereed research literature we have
now, with the quality-grade certified by the journal label and its
established reputation.

It is not at all clear (and there are many prima facie reasons
to doubt) that referees would give of their time and expertise
to a "disaggregated" system to provide grades and comments on raw
preprints that might or might not be graded and commented upon by other
(self-selected? appointed?) referees as well, and might or might not be
answerable to their recommendations. Nor is it clear that a disaggregated
system would continue to yield a literature that was of any use to other
users either.

Classical peer review already exists, and works, and it is the fruits of
that classical peer review that we are talking about making openly
accessible through self-archiving, nothing more. Journals (more
specifically, their editorial boards and referees) are the current
implementers of peer review. They have the experience, and their
quality-control "labels" (the journal-names) have the established
reputations on which such "metadata" tags depend for their informational
value in guiding users. There is no need either to abandon journals, nor
to re-invent them under another name ("DJ").

A peer-reviewed journal, medium-independently, is merely a peer-review
service provider and certifier. That is what they are, and that is what
they will continue to be. Titles, editorial boards and their referees
may migrate, to be sure. They have done so in the past, between
different toll-access publishers; they could do so now too, if/when
necessary, from toll-access to open-access publishers. But none of this
involves any change in the peer review system, hence there should be no
implication that it does.

(JWT Smith also contemplates paying referees for their services, another
significant and untested departure from classical peer review, with the
potential for bias and abuse -- if only there were enough money
available to make it worth referees' while, which there is not! At
realistic rates, offering to pay a referee for stealing his research
time to review a paper would risk adding insult to injury.)

So there is every reason to encourage institutions to self-archive their
research output, such as it is, before and after peer review. But there
is no reason at all to link this with speculative scenarios about new
publication and/or peer review systems, which could well put the very
literature we are trying to render more used and usable at risk of
ceasing to be useful or usable to anyone.

The message to researchers and their institutions should be very clear:

The self-archiving of your research output, before (preprints) and after
(postprints) peer-reviewed publication will maximize its visibility,
usage, and impact, with all the resulting benefits to you and your
institution. Self-archiving is merely a supplement to the existing system,
an extra thing that you and your institution can do, in order to enjoy
these benefits. You need give up nothing, and nothing else need change.

In addition, one possible consequence, if enough researchers and their
institutions self-archive enough research long enough, is that your
institutional libraries might begin to enjoy some savings on their
serials expenditures, because of subscription cancellations. This outcome
is not guaranteed, but it is a possible further benefit, and might in
turn lead to further restructuring of the journal publication system
under the cancellation pressure -- probably in the direction of cutting
costs and downsizing to the essentials, which will probably reduce to just
providing peer review alone. The true cost of that per paper will in turn
be much lower than the total cost now, and it will make most sense to pay
for it out of the university's annual windfall subscriptions savings as a
SERVICE, per outgoing paper, rather than as a PRODUCT, per incoming paper,
as in toll-access days. This outcome too would be very much in line with
the practice of institutional self-archiving of outgoing research that
is being advocated by the SPARC position paper.

The foregoing paragraph, however, only describes a hypothetical
possibility, and need not and should not be counted as among the sure
benefits of author/institution self-archiving -- which are, to repeat:
maximized visibility, usage, and impact for institutional research output,
resulting from maximized accessibility.

> As a paper could appear in more than one journal and be evaluated
> by more than one refereeing body, these overlays would allow the
> aggregation and combination of research articles by multiple logical
> approaches - for example, on a particular theme or topic (becoming
> the functional equivalent of anthology volumes in the humanities
> and social sciences);25 across disciplines; or by affiliation
> (faculty departmental bulletins that aggregate the research of
> their members).

Here the speculative notion of substituting "disaggregated journals"
(DJs) for classical peer review is being conflated with the completely
orthogonal matter of collections and alerting: An open-access online
research literature can certainly be linked and bundled and recombined
in a variety of very useful ways, but this has nothing whatsoever to
do with the way its quality is arrived at and certified as such. Until
an alternative has been found, tested and proven to yield at least
comparable sign-posted quality, the classical peer review system is the
only game in town. Let us not delay the liberation of its fruits from
access-barriers still longer by raising the spectre of freeing them
not only from the access-tolls but also from the self-same peer review
system that (until further notice) generated and certified their quality!

    "Rethinking "Collections" and Selection in the PostGutenberg Age"

> Such journals exist today-for example, the Annals
> of Mathematics overlay to arXiv26 and Perspectives in Electronic
> Publishing,27 to name just two-and they will proliferate as the
> volume of distributed open access content increases.

The Annals of Mathematics is
an "overlay" journal (OJ) of the kind I described above, using classical peer
review. It is NOT an example of the "disaggregated" quality control system

Perspectives in Electronic Publishing, in contrast, is merely a collection
of links to already published work:
It does not represent any sort of alternative to classical peer review
and journal publication.

> Besides overlay
> journals pointing to distributed content, high-value information
> portals - centered around large, sophisticated data sets specific
> to a particular research community - will spawn new types of digital
> overlay publications based on the shared data.28

Journals that are overlays to institutional research repositories are
merely certifying that papers bearing their tag have undergone their
peer-review and met their established quality standards. This has
nothing to do with alternative forms of quality control, disaggregated
or otherwise.

Post hoc collections (link-portals) have nothing to do with quality
control either, although they will certainly be valuable for other

> Regardless of journal
> type, the basis for assessing the quality of the certification that
> overlay journals provide differs little from the current journal
> system: eminent editors, qualified reviewers, rigorous standards,
> and demonstrated quality.

Not only does it not differ: Overlay Journals (OJs) will provide IDENTICAL
quality and standards, as long as "overlay" simply means having the
implementation of peer review, and its certification, piggy-back on the
institutional archives, as it should.

Alternative forms of quality control (e.g., DJs), on the other hand,
will first have to demonstrate that they work.

And neither of these is to be confused with the post-hoc function of
aggregating online content, peer-reviewed or otherwise.

This should all be made crystal clear in the SPARC paper, partly by
stating it in a clear straighforward way, and partly by omitting the
speculative options that only cloud the picture needlessly (and have
nothing to do with institutional self-archiving and its rationale,
but simply risk confusing and discouraging would-be self-archivers
and their institutions).

> In addition to these analogues to the current journal certification
> system, a disaggregated model also enables new types of certification
> models. Roosendaal and Geurts have noted the implications of
> internal and external certification systems.29

Please, let us distinguish the two by calling "internal certification"
PRE-certification (or "self-certification") so as not to confuse it with
peer review, which is BY DEFINITION external (except in that happy but
rare case where an institution happens to house enough of the world's
qualified experts on a given piece of research not to have to consult
any outside experts).

A good deal of useful pre-filtering can be done by institutions on their
own research output, especially if the institution is large enough.
(CERN has a very rigorous internal review
system that all outgoing research must undergo before it is submitted
to a journal for peer review).

But, on balance, "internal certification" rightly raises the spectre of
vanity press publication. Nor is it a coincidence that when universities
assess their own researchers for promotion and tenure, they tend to
rely on the external certification provided by peer reviewed journals
(weighted sometimes by their impact factors) rather than just internal
review. The same is true of the external assessors of university
research output:

So, please, let us not link the very desirable and face-valid goal
of maximizing universities' research visibility and research impact
through institutional self-archiving with the much more dubious matter
of institutional self-certification.

> Certification may
> pertain at the level of internal, methodological considerations,
> pertinent to the research itself - the standard basis for most scholarly
> peer review. Alternatively, the work may be gauged or certified
> by criteria external to the research itself - for example, by its
> economic implications or practical applicability. Such internal and
> external certification systems would typically operate in different
> contexts and apply different criteria. In a disaggregated model,
> these multiple certification levels can co-exist.

This is all rather vague, and somewhat amateurish, and would (in my
opinion) have been better left out of this otherwise clear and focussed
call for institutional self-archiving of research output.

And the idea of expecting referees to spend their precious time refereeing
already-refereed and already-certified (i.e., already-published) papers
yet again is unrealistic in the extreme, especially considering the
growing number of papers, the scarcity of qualified expert referees
(who are otherwise busy doing the research itself), and the existing
backlogs and delays in refereeing and publication.

Besides, as indicated already, refereeing is not passive tagging or
grading: It is a dynamic, interactive, and ANSWERABLE process in which
the preprint is transformed into the accepted postprint, and certified
as such. Are we to imagine each of these papers being re-written every
time they are submitted to yet another DJ?

There is a lot to be said for postpublication revision and updating of the
postprints ("post-postprints") in response to postpublication commentary,
but it only invites confusion to call that "disaggregated journal
publication." The refereed, journal-certified postprint should remain
the critical milestone that it is, marking the fact that that draft
successfully met that journal's established quality standards. Further
iterations of this process make no sense (apart from being profligate
with scarce resources) and should in any case be tested for feasibility
and outcome before being recommended!

> To support both new and existing certification mechanisms, quality
> certification metadata could be standardized to allow OAI-compliant
> harvesting of that information. This would allow a reader to
> determine whether there is any certification information about an
> article, regardless of where the article originated or where it
> is discovered.30

Might I venture to put this much more simply (and restrict it to the refereed
research literature, which is my only focus)? By far the most relevant
and informative "metadatum" certifying the information in a research
paper is the JOURNAL-NAME of the journal in which it was published
(signalling, as it does, the journal's established reputation,
quality level, and impact factor)! (Yes, the AUTHOR-NAME, and the
AUTHOR-INSTITUTION metadata-tags may be useful sometimes too, but those
cases do not, as they say, "scale," otherwise self-certification would
have replaced peer review long ago. COMMENT-tags would be welcome too,
but caveat emptor.)

    "Peer Review, Peer Commentary, and Eprint Archive Policy"

Please let us not lose sight of the fact that the main purpose of
author/institution self-archiving in institutional Eprint Archives is
to maximize the visibility, uptake and impact of research output by
maximizing its accessibility (through open access). It is not intended
as an experimental implementation of speculations about untested
new forms of quality control! That would be to put this all-important
literature needlessly at risk (and would simply discourage researchers
and their institutions from self-archiving it at all).

There is a huge amount of further guiding information that can be
derived from the literature to help inform navigation, search and
usage. A lot of it will be digitometric analysis based on usage
measures such as citation, hits, and commentary

But none of these digitometrics should be mistaken for CERTIFICATION,
which, until further notice, is a systematic form of expert human
interaction and judgement called peer review:

    Harnad, S. & Carr, L. (2000) Integrating, Navigating and Analyzing
    Eprint Archives Through Open Citation Linking (the OpCit Project).
    Current Science 79(5): 629-638.

> Depending on the goals established by each institution, an
> institutional repository could contain any work product generated by
> the institution's students, faculty, non-faculty researchers, and
> staff. This material might include student electronic portfolios,
> classroom teaching materials, the institution's annual reports,
> video recordings, computer programs, data sets, photographs, and art
> works-virtually any digital material that the institution wishes to
> preserve.35 However, given SPARC's focus on scholarly communication
> and on changing the structure of the scholarly publishing model,
> we will define institutional repositories here-whatever else
> they might contain-as collecting, preserving, and disseminating
> scholarly content. This content may include pre-prints and other
> works-in-progress, peer-reviewed articles, monographs, enduring
> teaching materials, data sets and other ancillary research material,
> conference papers, electronic theses and dissertations, and gray
> literature.

This passage is fine, and refocusses on the items of real value in the
SPARC position paper.

> To control and manage the accession of this content requires
> appropriate policies and mechanisms, including content management and
> document version control systems. The repository policy framework
> and technical infrastructure must provide institutional managers
> the flexibility to control who can contribute, approve, access, and
> update the digital content coming from a variety of institutional
> communities and interest groups (including academic departments,
> libraries, research centers and labs, and individual authors). Several
> of the institutional repository infrastructure systems currently being
> developed have the technical capacity to embargo or sequester access
> to submissions until the content has been approved by a designated
> reviewer. The nature and extent of this review will reflect the
> policies and needs of each individual institution, possibly of each
> participating institutional community. As noted above, sometimes this
> review will simply validate the author's institutional affiliation
> and/or authorization to post materials in the repository; in other
> instances, the review will be more qualitative and extensive,
> serving as a primary certification.

This is all fine, as long as it is specified that what is at issue is
institutional PRE-certification or self-certification of its UNREFEREED
research (preprints).

For peer-reviewed research the only institutional authentication
required is at most that the AUTHOR-NAME and JOURNAL-NAME are indeed as
advertised! (The integrity of the full text could be vetted too, but
I'm inclined to suggest that that would be a waste of time and resources
at this point. What is needed right now is that institutions should
create and fill their own Eprint Archives with their research output,
pre- and post-refereeing, immediately. The "definitive" text, until
journals really all turn into "overlay" journals, is currently in the
hands of the publishers and subscribing libraries. For the time being,
let authors "self-certify" their refereed, published texts as being what
they say they are; let's leave worrying about more rigorous authentication
for later. For now, the goal should be to self-archive as much research
output as possible, as soon as possible, with minimal fuss. The future
will take care of itself. )

> Institutional repository policies, practices, and expectations must
> also accommodate the differences in publishing practices between
> academic disciplines. The early adopter disciplines that developed
> discipline-specific digital servers were those with an established
> pre-publication tradition.46 Obviously, a discipline's existing
> peer-to-peer communication patterns and research practices need
> to be considered when developing institutional repository content
> policies and faculty outreach programs. Scholars in disciplines with
> no prepublication tradition will have to be persuaded to provide a
> prepublication version; they might fear plagiarism or anticipate
> copyright or other acceptance problems in the event they were to
> submit the work for formal publication.47 They might also fear
> the potential for criticism of work not yet benefiting from peer
> review and editing. For these non-preprint disciplines, a focus
> on capturing faculty post-publication contributions may prove a
> more practical initial strategy.48

Agreed. And here are some prima facie FAQs for allaying each of these
by now familiar prima facie fears:

> Including published material
> in the repository will also help overcome concerns, especially
> from scholars in non-preprint disciplines, that repository working
> papers might give a partial view of an author's research.

Indeed. And this is the most important message of all!

> Therefore,
> including published material, while raising copyright issues that need
> to be addressed, should lower the barrier to gaining non-preprint
> traditions to participate. Where authors meet traditional publisher
> resistance to the self-archiving rights necessary for repository
> posting, institutions can negotiate with those publishers to allow
> embargoed access to published research.49


> While gaining the participation of faculty authors is essential
> to effecting an evolutionary change in the structure of scholarly
> publishing, early experience suggests better success when positioning
> the repository as a complement to, rather than as a replacement for,
> traditional print journals.50

Not only "positioning" it as a complement: Clearly proclaiming that
a complement, not a replacement, is exactly what it is! Not just with
respect to the relatively trivial issue of on-paper vs. on-line, but also
with respect to the much more fundamental one, about journal peer review
(vide supra). Institutional self-archiving is certainly no substitute
for external peer review. (This is is stated clearly in some parts of the
SPARC paper, but unfortunately contradicted, or rendered ambiguous, in
other parts.)

> This course partially obviates the most
> problematic objection to open access digital publishing: that it lacks
> the quality and prestige of established journals.

This is a non-sequitur and a misunderstanding: The quality and prestige
come from being certified as having met the quality standards of an
established peer-reviewed journal. This has nothing whatsoever to do
with the medium (on-paper or on-line), nor with the access system
(toll-access or open-access); and it certainly cannot be attained by
self-archiving unrefereed preprints only. The papers must of course
continue to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for refereeing,
revision, and subsequent certification.

> This also allows
> repository proponents to build a case for faculty participation
> based on the primary benefits that repositories deliver directly
> to participants, rather than relying on secondary benefits and on
> altruistic faculty commitment to reforming a scholarly communications
> model that has served them well on an individual level.

I could not follow this. The primary benefits of self-archiving are the
maximization of the visibility, uptake and impact of research output by
maximizing its accessibility (through open-access). Researchers certainly
will not, and should not, self-archive in order to support untested new
"certification" conjectures, nor even to ease their institutions' serials
budgets. The appeal must be straight to researchers' self-interest in
promoting their own research.

> Additionally, value-added services such as enhanced citation indexing
> and name authority control will allow a more robust qualitative
> analysis of faculty performance where impact on one's field is
> a measurement. The aggregating mechanisms that enable the overall
> assessment of the qualitative impact of a scholar's body of work will
> make it easier for academic institutions to emphasize the quality,
> and de-emphasize the quantity, of an author's work.53 This will
> weaken the quantity-driven rationale for the superfluous splintering
> of research into multiple publication submissions. The ability
> to gauge a faculty member's publishing performance on qualitative
> rather than quantitative terms should benefit both faculty and their
> host institutions.

All true, but strategically, it is best to stress maximization on
existing performance indicators, rather than hypothetical new ones:

    Harnad, S. (2001) "Research Access, Impact and Assessment
    are linked." Times Higher Education Supplement 1487: p. 16.

> Learned society publishers are for the most part far less
> aggressive in exploiting their monopolies than their for-profit
> counterparts. Even so, most society publishing programs, even in a
> not-for-profit context, often contribute significantly to covering
> an organization's operating expenses and member services. It is not
> surprising, then, that proposals advocating institutional repositories
> and other open access dissemination of scholarly research generate
> anxiety, if not outright resistance, amongst society publishers. While
> one hopes that societies adopt the broadest perspective possible in
> serving the needs of their members-including the broadest possible
> access to the scholarly research in the field-it is unlikely that
> societies will trade their organizations' solvency for the greater
> good of scholarship.58 It is important, therefore, to review how
> society publishers can continue to operate in an environment of
> institutional repositories and other open access systems.

> Some suggest that institutional repositories, pre-print servers,
> and electronic aggregations of individual articles will undermine
> the importance of the journal as a packager of articles.59 However,
> institutional repositories and other open access mechanisms will
> only threaten the survival of scholarly journals if they defeat the
> brand positions of the established society journals and if individual
> article impact metrics replace journal impact factors in academic
> advancement decisions.

Most of the above is not true, and hence better left onsaid.

It is quite possible (and hence should not be denied) that
author/institution self-archiving of refereed research may eventually
necessitate downsizing by publishers:

    "4.2 Hypothetical Sequel"

But none of this has anything to do with journal- vs author- impact
metrics! The ISI's Web of Science has already made
it possible (and very useful) for institutions and funding agencies) to use
either journal or author citation impact metrics for assessment, whichever
is more useful and informative, and it is very likely that weighting
publications only by their journal-impact will prove a much blunter
instrument than weighting them by the paper's and/or author's impact:

But once the institutional Eprint Archives are up and filled, far richer and
more sensitive digitometric measures of impact and usage are waiting to
be devised and tested on this vast corpus. A taste is already available
from citebase:

For ongoing research on these new digitometric performance indicators,

> On the first point, journal brand reputation
> will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be integral to the
> assessment of article and author quality.

For the reader/user/navigator of the literature, certainly. But more
sensitive measures are developing too, for the evaluator, funder and
employer. The all-important JOURNAL-NAME tag, and the established quality
level and impact to which it attests will continue to be indispensable
sign-posts, but a great deal more will be built on top of them, once
the entire refereed journal literature (20K journals) is online and

> Market-aware journals
> with prominent editorial boards and well-established publishing
> histories should be able to maintain their prestige, even with a
> proliferation of article-based aggregations. As to the second point,
> while new metrics will evolve that demonstrate the quantitative
> impact of individual articles, rigorous peer review will continue
> to provide value. Even after individual article impact analysis
> becomes widespread and accepted by academic tenure committees,
> stringent refereeing standards will continue to play a central role
> in indicating quality.60

Correct, and mainly because peer review is the cornerstone of it all.

> Learned societies have long-standing relationships with their
> members and they should be able to act as focal points for the
> research communities they represent. While society dues typically
> include a journal subscription, society members also enjoy other
> benefits of membership-and, presumably, additional value-beyond
> the journal subscription itself. Societies, therefore, provide
> community-supporting services to justify their members' dues besides
> the value allocated to the journal subscription. While a commercial
> publisher would find it difficult to charge a subscription fee for a
> journal freely available online, society publishers-by repositioning
> the benefits of membership-might well prove able to allow journal
> article availability via open access repositories without experiencing
> substantial membership cancellations or revenue attrition.

In other words, members of learned societies may still be willing to pay
membership dues to support their societies' "good works." But there is
no need to call these dues "subscriptions"!

And the cost of peer review itself can be covered very easily out of
institutional subscription savings, if and when it becomes necessary:

> Given the extent of government and private philanthropic foundation
> funding for academic research, especially in the sciences,
> such funding agencies have a vested interest in broadening
> the dissemination of scientific research.63 There are several
> mechanisms by which government and private funding agencies could
> help to achieve this broadened dissemination. It has been suggested
> that government and foundation research grants could be written
> to include subsidies for author page charges and other input-side
> fees to support open access business models. Such stipulations would
> help effect change in those disciplines, primarily in the sciences,
> where author page charges are the norm. Obviously, such subsidies
> would be less effective in disciplines where input-side models bear
> the stigma of vanity publishing; still, over time, this resistance
> could be overcome.

If/when open-access prevails enough to reduce publisher income, it will
at the same time increase institutional savings (from cancelled
subscriptions). As peer review costs much less than the whole of what
journal publishers used to do, it can easily be paid for, at the
author/institution end, as a service cost for outgoing research instead
of as a product cost for incoming research as it is now, out of just a
portion of institutions annual windfall savings, as indicated below:

> ECONOMICALLY: The burden of scholarly journal costs on academic
> libraries has been well documented. While the variety of institutional
> contexts and potential implementations make it difficult to project
> institutional repository development and operational costs with any
> precision, the evidence so far suggests that the resources required
> would represent but a fraction of the journal costs that libraries
> now incur and over which they have little control.

And that is mainly because peer review alone, which is journal publishers'
only remaining essential service once publication is all open-access,
costs far less than what journal subscription/licenses used to cost.
The per-paper archiving costs, distributed over the research institutions
that generate the outgoing papers, is negligible, compared to what it
cost for incoming papers in the toll-based system.

    "The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)"

> Several institutions have applied the e-prints self-archiving software
> to implement institutional repositories. Developed at the University
> of Southampton, the free self-archiving software now
> comes configured to run an institutional pre-prints archive. The
> generic version of e-prints is fully interoperable with all the OAI
> Metadata Harvesting Protocol.72

Not an institutional PRE-PRINTS archive: An institutional EPRINTS
Archive. (Eprints = preprints + postprints)

> Universities that have implemented e-prints solutions include Cal
> Tech, the University of Nottingham,73 University of Glasgow,74
> and the Australian National University.75 The participants in all
> these programs have described their experiences, providing practical
> insights that should benefit others contemplating an OAI-compliant
> e-prints implementation.76

CalTech reviewed their experience with eprints for SPARC at:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jun 18 2002 - 01:02:22 BST

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