Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving

From: Alma Swan <a.swan_at_TALK21.COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 12:35:10 +0100

On Fri, 1 Oct 2004, [identity deleted] wrote:

> While OAI compliance is a sine qua non condition of some measure of
> inter-operability, it does not (yet?) ensure the kind of ease of
> retrieval that other forms of archiving can provide, including some
> form of central archiving.

Ease-of-retrieval advantages are no more inherent in centralised archives
than in any other type of open archive. Ease of retrieval is dependent upon
the quality of article metadata, upon the functionality of the search engine
used, and upon the retrieval skills of the inquirer (especially if fulltext
is searched), and all of these are irrespective of where articles are

Our recent study, carried out in partnership with the Universities of
Loughborough and Cranfield on behalf of JISC, produced a recommended model
for the delivery, management and access of eprints (both pre- and
post-prints)in UK further and higher education communities. We deliberated
on the relative merits of central versus institutional archiving and came
down firmly on the side of the latter. The reasons for this were several -
both technical and cultural - and are set out in detail in our full report,
which will be published by JISC within the few days [Swan,A., Needham, P.,
Probets, S., Muir, A., O'Brien, A., Oppenheim, C., Hardy, R., and Rowland, F
(2004) Delivery, Management and Access Model for E-prints and Open Access
Journals within Further and Higher Education].

Here is a quote from the executive summary of our report:

"This study identified three models for open access provision in the UK ....
In considering the relative merits of these models, we addressed not only
technical concerns but also how e-print provision (by authors) can be
achieved, since without this content provision there can be no effective
e-print delivery service (for users).

For technical and cultural reasons, this study recommends that the
centralised model should not be adopted for the proposed UK service. This
would have been the costliest option and it would have omitted the growing
body of content in distributed institutional, subject-based, and open-access
journal archives. Moreover, the central archiving approach is the 'wrong way
round' with respect to e-print provision since for reasons of academic and
institutional culture and so long as effective measures are implemented,
individual institution-based e-print archives are far more likely to fill
(and fill quickly) than centralised archives, because institutions and
researchers share a vested interested in the impact of their research
output, and because institutions are in a position to mandate and monitor
compliance, a position not enjoyed by centralised archives."

One of the critical aspects of our decision was that any model for
delivering eprints must operate in, and help to create, the arena most
likely to provide the maximum amount of eprint material to deliver. Two
things (only) have a bearing on this - archives being available for authors
to use, and authors actually archiving their articles.

>From the evidence we looked at - existing archives - it was clear to us that
even when archives are available there is still precious little
peer-reviewed material being deposited, ergo it is author behaviour that is
at the very root of the matter. How may authors be 'encouraged' to
self-archive? The evidence shows that whilst a carrot approach produces some
success, 'encouragement' would best take the form of a stick - by someone,
somewhere, mandating self-archiving. Why authors need such a mandate can be
debated at length by those with the inclination for such things. The fact is
that when there is a mandate by some authority that has clout, authors will

There are few examples of such mandates in operation as yet (though where
they exist, they are working), but plenty of promise for those to come.
KPL's recent, separate, study on open access publishing (also commissioned
by JISC) produced clear evidence that authors have, in general and in
principle, no objection to self-archiving and will comply with a mandate to
do so from their employer or research funder. Our findings were that 77% of
authors would comply with such a mandate. Only 3% said they would NOT
[Swan, A and Brown, S (2004) Report of the JISC/OSI journal authors survey.
pp 1-76.;
Swan, A and Brown, S (2004) Authors and open access publishing. Learned
Publishing, 17 (3), 219-224.

The recent government-level recommendations in the US and the UK on
mandating self-archiving are therefore perfectly on target to address the
issue most critical to open access provision. Scholars will self-archive if
told to do so. Employers and research funders have the authority to do the
telling, but they tell authors to do what, and which authors? Funders can
only tell their grantees, but have the choice of telling them to deposit
their articles in the funder's own archive if there is one, in some other
centralised archive, or in the researcher's own institutional archive, or
all of these.

Employers can do all these too, but since they not only have shared goals
with their researchers in respect of dissemination of research findings, but
also see additional value in, and uses for, the content of an institutional
archive, they are very likely to be eager to see it maximally populated and
will insist on authors depositing there, at the very least. Moreover, they
can mandate self-archiving across the board, including researchers who are
not supported by external funding (a large number in many subject areas),
and in EVERY scholarly discipline. This is a far more effective a route to
comprehensive eprint provision than relying on funder mandates alone, and is
much more likely to provide eprints in ALL disciplines relatively quickly
than relying on the eventual establishment of centralised archives in all
subject areas.

Our conclusion was, then, that this scenario is the one most likely to
provide the maximum level of archived content, a major plank of any model
for the provision of eprints nationwide in the UK. Our model was devised
accordingly and would be equally appropriate anywhere else in the world.

Alma Swan
Alma P Swan, BSc, PhD, MBA
Key Perspectives Ltd
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1392 879702
Received on Mon Oct 04 2004 - 12:35:10 BST

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