Surveys, self-archiving, and what authors want to do

From: Alma Swan <>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 19:01:10 EST

A declaration of interest: I am the author of the JISC report on OA
publishing (based on a survey that we carried out) and the person who
wrote the excerpt (about QUT) clipped by Anthony Watkinson from another of
our reports (see below). I have therefore been giving the discussion of my
methodologies and conclusions considerable attention.

A declaration of non-interest: I think I may speak on behalf of my
co-authors of the report on eprints that Professor Watkinson says is
written by 'a large group containing associates of Professor Harnad.' The
work was carried out under contract to JISC. With the exception of one
individual who has co-published with Professor Harnad, none of the rest of
the authors of the JISC eprints report are 'associates' of the said
professor: they are people who work independently at Loughborough or
Cranfield Universities or, in the case of Sheridan Brown and myself, for
Key Perspectives Ltd, an independent consultancy. During the course of the
study two individuals at Southampton University certainly were consulted:
I talked with Dr Leslie Carr about institutional archiving policy matters
and Paul Needham consulted with Chris Gutteridge about technical issues.
Any implication that Professor Harnad may have had some influence in this
study that he now uses to support his case is therefore strongly refuted.
If Professor Harnad uses material from our work to support his own
arguments then he is using proper rigour - infinitely preferable to
unsubstantiated opinion - and if survey or other findings confirm what he
has previously concluded for himself, then they simply prove that he was
right in his deductions, and that the evidence bears him out.

Now I have some substantive points to make:

1. Professor Watkinson says that Key Perspectives' reports 'are well known
but the sample sizes are small'. The sample size for a survey, as I
presume he understands really but chooses to ignore for the purpose of
making a point, may be extremely small in relation to the whole population
yet still produce a statistically valid result. The key is in the sampling
process. In the UK, the polling organisation MORI uses samples of 1000
people and from those predicts the result of elections in a population of
60 million. If the sampling process is correct, a small sample will be
representative of the views of the whole population.

2. Professor Watkinson's phraseology implies that KPL has carried out
numerous surveys of dubious merit. In fact, KPL has only published the
results of ONE survey on open access so far, which was indeed based on a
small sample, but a valid one, and I would hope its merit is considerable.
However, for information, I am now analysing the results of a new,
current, survey on self-archiving that we have conducted, and which has a
sample of more than 1200. The report will be published in the spring.

3. Our new, bigger-sample survey shows that the percentage of academics
who would willingly self-archive if required to do so by their employers
or funders is greater than previously found.

4. Professor Watkinson 'finds no evidence that scholars particularly want
to deposit their refereed research in institutional repositories.'
Presumably he has not conducted any of his own statistically-sound
research, so he must be looking for a statistic on this from elsewhere.
There has not been one published on the specific issue of whether scholars
want to deposit their research in IRs, but I can provide a couple of
illuminating statistics from our new, large-sample,
currently-being-analysed survey: - the percentage of researchers who have
self-archived a postprint in an IR is 22%. - of those who have not, 74%
are unaware of the possibility of doing so. This means that 58% of
scholars are currently uninformed about the possibility, mechanics, and
rationale for self-archiving. Since people cannot reasonably be expected
to want to do something of which they are in complete ignorance, it is
clear that inferences about whether scholars want to self-archive or not
should wait until the majority are more informed on the matter and have
made up their minds on that basis.

5. Actually, not many people would expect scholars to WANT to do this, any
more than they would WANT to do any other chore. I have never met a
scholar yet who WANTS to write an end-of-project report for his granting
body, nor indeed many who WANT to write papers about their research
results. Yet those things get done because they are expected of scholars.
Here are quotes from two scholars, voluntarily made while responding to
our latest (yes, large-sample) survey: a) [I publish my work because] "It
is a requirement of my job."

b) "I publish because it is a professional responsibility, and demanded by
my employment contract." It is not a big jump, then, to conclude that an
institutional mandate would be rather an effective way of getting scholars
to self-archive their work, one of the issues we included in our
recommendations to JISC on how best to establish an e-prints service in
the UK.

6. With respect to the mandating policy of Queensland University of
Technology, described in our report for JISC and selectively quoted by
Professor Watkinson below, there is now a mandate in place, but enforcing
it is being done with care and good sense. The 'softly, softly'
implementation approach which I wrote about in the report is to do with
courtesy and taking the time to inform the researchers about the new
policy and its rationale rather than any temerity on the part of senior
policy-makers in QUT about mandating self-archiving. These quotations from
one of the senior policy-makers, from a letter to me as I was conducting
the research for the JISC e-prints study, make this clear:

[On advocacy sessions held to inform researchers on the new mandatory
policy]..."Rather than promoting a "new resource" which may, or may not be
of interest, it becomes a session about a new policy, the rationale for
the policy and process to be followed. The deposit rate is likely to
increase as awareness levels increase."...

"Once they understand the concept of self-archiving, the response tends to
be uniformly very positive. Most of the authors who have attended
information sessions and workshops have expressed an intention to deposit
future publications, publisher policy permitting. So far, we have had
only one academic express strong negative sentiments and it turned out
that this was based on a misunderstanding. He thought that QUT eprint
repository policy implied that he should deposit both the preprint and
postprint versions of his publications; and he is opposed to the
circulation of preprints. We encourage authors to deposit the postprint
version of a paper whenever this is possible. Authors may deposit
preprints but this is entirely optional. We explain the various options
available to authors where the publisher does not appear to support
self-archiving (amending the copyright agreement / retaining copyright/
requesting clearance for previously published papers). Having an eprint
policy can help here. We suggest to authors that they could explain to
the publisher, in a covering letter, that they amended the copyright
agreement (or retained copyright) because it is a policy of their employer
that they deposit a copy of the paper in the institutional repository."

Alma Swan
Alma P Swan, BSc, PhD, MBA
Key Perspectives Ltd
Truro, UK

> -----Original Message-----
> [] On Behalf Of Anthony Watkinson
> Sent: 15 February 2005 23:59
> To: liblicense
> Subject: Re: Berlin-3 Open Access Conference, Southampton, Feb 28 -
> Mar 1 2005
> I find no evidence here that scholars particularly want to deposit their
> refereed research in institutional repositories. It would be extremely
> surprising if scholars did not submit their their refereed research if
> they are told to do so by authority especially if they think that by not
> doing so they will not get grants or even lose their jobs (the same
> thing for many). History and experience has shown that few refuse to do
> what they are told in such circumstance. Nevertheless in this regard it
> is interesting that a big report commissioned by JISC and written by a
> large group containing associates of Professor Harnad reports that:
> There are a handful of educational institutions that have gone so far as
> to mandate that its authors deposit copies of all their research
> articles in the institutional e-print archive
> (; the best example of this is
> Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.The mandating
> policy is only recently announced and, although it is now officially in
> place, the university is taking a softly-softly approach to enforcing it
> to avoid alienating faculty members.
> For this report see
> (page 52).
> As usual Professor Harnad has given a string of references. 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. As I have already said, it would be very
> surprising if the majority of academics showed a willingness to revolt
> against a mandate.
> Of the other references, the first (Hajjem) is to a series of slides in
> French, which appears to relate to a piece of work supervised in Quebec
> by Professor Harnad himself. There respondents appear to be from one
> university and number 88.
> The recent survey in South Africa (De Beer) seems at a first glance of
> the 233 pages to be a solid piece of work but there are only 74
> respondents (who have given permission for their returned questionnaires
> to be used) and they appear to come from LIS and IT staff etc at
> Stellenbosch. I cannot see the relevance of the recommendation (so
> what!) quoted by Professor Harnad to the larger debate.
> His thinking seems to be:
> OA is good for everyone. The way to OA is self-archiving. Therefore we
> should force academics to submit their refereed research in
> institutional repositories. When I write about it, apart from quoting
> myself interminably, I shall drag in every scrap of evidence that seems
> to back up my position and forget the I myself am an academic.
> I cannot understand why OA advocates still feel they have to pretend
> that the academic community is behind them in their endeavour - see for
> example the quote from Bill Hubbard in announcing the DOAR project (see
> Such repositories have mushroomed over the last 2 years in response to
> calls by scholars and researchers worldwide to provide open access to
> research information.
> 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?
> Anthony Watkinson
Received on Mon Feb 21 2005 - 00:01:10 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:47 GMT