Re: What Provosts Need to Mandate

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 00:09:42 +0100

    Prior Amsci Topic Threads:

    "What Provosts Need to Mandate"

    "Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives"

In the Open Access News Blog, Peter Suber posts the following excerpt
from Kurt Paulus's report on the PALS conference on Institutional

> Kurt Paulus, Conference feature: Institutional repositories and
> their impact on publishing, JISC, July 5, 2004.
> A report on last month's PALS conference, Institutional Repositories
> and Their Impact on Scholarly Publishing (London, June 24, 2004).
> Excerpt: "Most of the repositories are small, with the number of
> records in the hundreds only....

This is correct. See the Institutional OA Archives Registry, which
tracks growth in both the number of archives and the size of their

> These figures suggest that one of the main early issues is to persuade
> academics to deposit their outputs in the repositories, through advocacy
> and training.

This is correct too, as has been noted many times in this Forum: The
*only* remaining component for which 100% immediate OA today is waiting
is a clear, systematic institutional OA provision policy. Creating
institutional archives is not enough. Institutions must adopt an explicit
policy of filling them, through a simple and natural extension of their
existing publish-or-perish policy:

> One or two institutions take a somewhat more coercive line, but none of
> the speakers recommended this as a sensible route.

The progress toward OA in the past decade and a half has been extremely
slow, with most people who have made any recommendation at all failing
to recommend -- and many recommending against -- many a measure that
subsequently proved transparently sensible. (See the self-archiving
FAQ for a catalogue of 31 prior points that were not thought sensible,
yet have since, one by one, turned out to be sensible after all,
as we gradually work ourselves out of the grip of Zeno's Paralysis: ).

Researchers themselves implicitly realize this: A JISC survey (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... 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.

Hence, the researchers have (implicitly) spoken: Just as they needed
to be "coerced" (for their own good!) to publish their findings at all
(otherwise they would have ended up in a desk-drawer, with the researcher
simply moving on to do the next interesting piece of research), so they
need to be "coerced" to do the few extra keystrokes it takes to make
their publishing OA!

> With the current slow rate of progress, there is little evidence yet
> that repositories are focusing on reforming scholarly publishing....

Here is another conceptual and strategic error, a major one: The meaning
and purpose of Open Access is *not" scholarly publishing reform! It is *Open
Access provision* -- "peer-to-peer," if you like, via the web. OA is *not*
about journal pricing and affordability, nor is it about the serials
crisis or library budgetary problems, nor is it about the publishing
system and hypotheses about ways it could/should be reformed (though OA
may eventually have *effects* on each of these): OA is about research
*access*, and about putting an end to the needless, cumulating research
impact loss that is caused by denying access to peer-reviewed research
articles on the part of would-be users at institutions that do not happen
to be able to afford toll-access to the journal in which a particular
paper happens to appear.

    Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S.,
    Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004)
    The green and the gold roads to Open Access. Nature Web Focus. Longer
    version to appear in Serials Review: The Access/Impact
    Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

> In principle, well based and stocked institutional repositories could
> have a significant impact on scholarly publishing, but Mark Ware's survey
> of publishers suggested that they are not yet quaking in their boots.

First, it would be a good idea if we stopped proliferating needless
near-synonyms such as "Institutional Repositories" in this area
where so much needless and paralysis-inducing confusion still abounds:
The OAI (1999) is the Open *Archives* Initiative, not the Open
*Repositories* Initiative, and one self-*archives* articles (1998),
one does not "self-reposit" them; nor do arbitrary "deposits" of all
manner of content in "institutional repositories" provide the requisite
focus for filling institutional OA Archives with their intended content,
insofar as OA is concerned, namely, all institutional peer-reviewed
journal-article output.

    "Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

Second, the thing on which institutional OA archives need to have a
"significant impact" is research *access*, and thereby *research
impact.* The scholarly publishing system is not the target, OA is!

Third: Why on earth would or should OA want to make publishers "quake in
their boots"? OA is so that no would-be user in the online era is ever
again needlessly denied access to peer-reviewed journal articles. That's

> Less than half those surveyed thought repositories would impact
> significantly on traditional publishing within five years.

The relevant question to ask is whether OA archives will put an end to
needless cumulative impact-loss within five years.

It's not clear that anyone knows the answer, though journal publishers
are clearly not the right ones to ask! All you can ask journals
is whether they are likely to want to convert to OA publishing
[BOAI-2, "gold"] in the next five years, and 80% of them have
given their answer: they are ready to turn "green," but not gold.

So clearly the ball is in the research community's court now. The
researchers themselves have given their implicit answer (see Swan
& Brown 2004, above): "Mandate it, as you mandate publishing itself,
and I will provide OA, willingly. Otherwise, all bets are off; I'm

> Nearly three quarters [of publishers surveyed] considered that the
> commercial impact [of institutional OA archives] would be zero or
> neutral. Their permissions policies reflect this fairly relaxed view...

It is a good bet that OA self-archiving may have no commercial impact on
journal publishing, and it is good for research impact (as well as for
journal impact!) that more and more journals are giving OA self-archiving
their green light.

The focus, to repeat, needs to be on authors and institutional
archive-filling policy, not on publishers, publishing, libraries,
economic models, or *other* irrelevant uses to which one might put
"institutional repositories."

> ...and they are split between waiting, and doing some experimentation
> to explore the many publishing issues surrounding repositories."

What matters is not publisher experimentation on publishing issues but
researcher action on OA provision.

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional policy of providing
providing Open Access to your own research article output, please describe
your policy at:

    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.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
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Received on Wed Jul 07 2004 - 00:09:42 BST

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