Re: Berlin-3 Open Access Conference, Southampton, Feb 28 - Mar 1 2005

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 03:42:06 +0000 (GMT)

On Tue, 15 Feb 2005, Anthony Watkinson wrote:

> I find no evidence here that scholars particularly want to deposit their
> refereed research in institutional repositories.

Professor Watkinson is quite right to point out a historic puzzle here. Let us
itemise what we can be sure that scholars want, and then what they appear either
not to want -- or not to want enough to do until/unless nudged:

Scholars want:

(1) to do research
(2) to have their research articles read
(3) to have their research articles used
(4) to have their research articles cited
(5) to have as much research impact as they can
(6) to have access to the research articles of other scholars, for their own work

Scholars also want:

(7) to have employment, promotions, tenure, grants, prizes, prestige
(8) to publish their research articles (or perish)
(9) to have their research output and impact measured (and rewarded)

Scholars are willing:

(i) to seek access to research articles that are freely available on the web
(ii) to sign petitions (in their tens of thousands) to publishers to make access
to the articles they publish freely available on the web
(iii) to publish in suitable Open Access journals, when they exist (5%)
(iv) to self-archive their own research articles so as to make them freely
available on the web (15%)

Scholars have not yet wanted the above enough:

(o) to self-archive 100% of their articles to make them freely available
on the web, thereby maximising their impact and its rewards

Only a historian of scholarship, science, and its institutions can tell us when
and how the universal "publish or perish" carrot/stick system came to be adopted,
but (human nature being what it is), we can assume that a good deal less research
would be done and reported if it were not rewarded. In other words, we are already
rewarding publishing, and penalizing non-publishing, we are already weighting the
rewards by reckoning in research impact (rather than just doing raw bean counts),
so it is hardly a radical or unprecedented step to naturally extend this existing
carrot/stick system to include self-archiving as a means of maximising the access
to and the impact of research output -- in the joint interests of researchers,
their institutions, their funders, and their research.

These are the real causal considerations -- still not worked out in many
or most researchers' minds -- about whether they really do or don't "particularly
want to deposit their refereed research in institutional repositories."

The surveys of Swan & Brown, Hajjem, and De Beer are all confirming
that the token is at last beginning to drop, worldwide. Whether it will
first clink bottom for researchers or their for employers or funders --
the purveyors of the carrots and sticks -- is still an open question. But
that the outcome, 100% OA, will be as optimal for science and scholarship
as it is inevitable, is a foregone conclusion.

> The various surveys by Key Perspectives are well known but the samples are
> small and not to my mind representative of any population except those who decided
> to fill in the questionnaires...

That's often the way it is with surveys. But unless Professor Watkinson
imagines that the direction of the self-selection bias was such as to
exclude those who were more knowledgeable and active in Open Access
and Self-Archiving, all the surveys show a consistent pattern of
uninformedness and non-archiving on the part of most of "those who
decided to fill in the questionnaires."

Yet most of those same uninformed, non-archiving respondents responded
that they felt a university self-archiving policy was necessary (75%
in the Hajjem UQaM study) and that they would self-archive *willingly*
if required by their employers of funders to do so (69% in the first
Swan & Brown international study, 79% in the latest replication, not
yet published).

> I cannot understand why OA advocates still feel they have to pretend that
> the academic community is behind them in their endeavour

Perhaps the 3622 individuals and 302 organizations that have added their names to
the Budapest Open Access Initiative
and the 34,000 signatures to the PLoS Open Letter
plus the growing number of small surveys like the ones above will eventually
start to make the token begin to drop for Professor Watkinson too?

> Which institutional repositories have been set up as a result of calls
> from scholars and reseachers to provide OA? Why pretend that this is the
> case?

Here Professor Watkinson is again quite rightly (though perhaps unawares)
putting his finger again on the puzzle for future OA historians: Yes,
scholars and researchers are calling for OA in substantial numbers (see
above). They are willing to do the keystrokes required to fill out surveys
on it and to sign declarations and petitions for it. But they are not
yet ready to perform the few additional keystrokes required to actually
*provide* it, by self-archiving their own articles. They have not yet
made that causal connection. The token has not yet dropped. Perhaps it
will drop for their employers and funders first, and then they will do
the keystrokes (which they have already told as they would do willingly,
if/when required to do so!) under the nudging of the usual academic
carrots and sticks...

    "Re: The "big koan'" (May 2002)

    "A Keystroke Koan For Our Open Access Times" (Oct 2003)

Stevan Harnad

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
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    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
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Received on Thu Feb 17 2005 - 03:42:06 GMT

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