"Not Green Enough": Reply to Stevan Harnad's Commentary on "How Green Is My Publisher?"

From: Charles W. Bailey, Jr. <cbailey_at_UH.EDU>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2005 08:09:57 -0500

"How Green Is My Publisher?" (with 2 comments and links)

"Not Green Enough" (with links)

Not Green Enough
Posted in Open Access, Copyright on April 27th, 2005

Yesterday, Stevan Harnad took the time to comment
extensively on my "How Green Is My Publisher?" posting.
Thanks for doing so, Stevan. Here are some further thoughts
on the matter.

CB:My publication page, check. We don’t have an
institutional repository yet, but I assume that "other
external Web site" will cover that when we do, check. Wait a
minute, what if I want to deposit the e-print in a
disciplinary archive like E-LIS or I want to put it in the
Internet Archive’s upcoming "OAI-compliant ‘universal
repository‘"? Looks to me like I’m out of luck. No way to
immediately deposit the paper in an OAI-PMH compliant
archive that will have a longer life than my Website and
that can be harvested by OAI-PMH search services, such as

SH: "The restrictions on 3rd-party archives are perfectly
reasonable and no problem whatsoever at this time. The
problem today (just so we keep our eyes on the ball!) is the
non-archiving of 85% of articles, hence their
inaccessibility to all those would-be users whose
universities cannot afford access to the journal’s official
version! It is cheap and easy for any university to create
an OAI-compliant institutional archive, and OAIster can
happily harvest the metadata.

eprints.org’s Institutional Archives Registry currently
shows a total of 424 archives. When we browse by archive
type, we discover that there are 192 "Research Institutional
or Departmental" registered archives worldwide. Of course,
“Departmental” archives are not institutional repositories.
They do not have an institutional scope of coverage, nor are
they as likely as institutional archives to be permanent.
True, departments are relatively stable, but their
commitment to maintaining archives may not be (e.g., the
archive may be the pet project of one or a few faculty
members). By contrast, once an institution commits to having
an archive, it’s likely to be a more permanent arrangement,
especially if it is run by a library.

But, let’s wave our hands, and say 100% of them are
institutional repositories (IRs). Universities Worldwide,
which is "based on the ‘World List of Universities 1997?
published by the International Association of Universities
(IAU) and links discovered or posted here," currently lists
7,130 universities in 181 countries. Assuming that this is a
good rough approximation, that means that about 6% of all
universities have IRs. Meaning, of course, that 94% do not.

And that means that 94% of authors at universities cannot
self-archive in an institutional repository (or, given the
hand waving, in a departmental archive). True, they can
self-archive on personal Web pages. The issues with this
strategy are: (a) how may authors have up-to-date
publication pages or have publication pages at all?, (b) how
long will they last (i.e., authors change jobs, retire, and
die)?, and (c) there is no OAI-PMH access to those pages, so
they don’t show up in OAIster and similar search engines.

Now, disciplinary archives and the Internet Archive’s
universal repository solve these problems. Moreover, they
solve another problem: independent scholars, corporate
researchers, and other non-academic authors may never have
an institutional repository to self-archive in.

I don’t see this as "no problem whatsoever at this time."
Quite the contrary. To be "no problem," we would have to
believe that it doesn’t matter if articles are archived in
OAI-PMH compliant repositories or archives. To be "no
problem," we would have to not care whether scholars who
will never have an institutional repository at their
disposal can self-archive.

As to the question of it being "cheap and easy for any
university to create an OAI-compliant institutional
archive," I think there is some difference of opinion on
that point. Susan Gibbons says [1] the "the costs and
efforts involved in maintaining an IR are substantial," and
she provides these annual IR cost estimates:

   1. $285,000, MIT
   2. $100,000 (Canadian), Queens University (for staffing
   3. $200,000, University of Rochester
   4. between 2,280 and 3,190 staff hours,University of

But, of course, these differences in perception about costs
relate to some degree to Stevan’s next point:

SH: (And worrying about the preservation of non-existent
contents is rather putting the cart before the horse. The
self-archived OA versions of a goodly portion of the 15% of
the articles that have been self-archived in the past 15
years are still online and OA to tell the tale to this day.
All their publishers’ official versions are too. So fussing
about the permanence of the non-contents of cupboards that
are in any case meant to be access-supplements, not the
official version of record, is rather misplaced, when what
is immediately missing and urgently needed is their
presence, not their permanence.)

I think that Stevan will find that few academic libraries
are not going to worry about permanence. Not only will they
worry about the permeance of digital objects in their
repositories, they will also worry about the permanence of
publisher’s archives. Librarians know that publishers are
corporations, and that corporations change priorities,
merge, and fail. As libraries increasingly abandon print
subscriptions and go e-only for economic reasons, at some
point there will be no permanent distributed print archive
of new journal issues in libraries worldwide as there is
today, and libraries are going to worry about that a great
deal. Moreover, universities are not going to establish
institutional repositories just to support OA. That may be
one important item on the agenda, but there will be other
archiving needs to be met as well, and factors associated
with those digital objects will affect the perception of the
need for overall IR preservation too.

Libraries are also going to provide new services to provide
IR support in addition to technical support, ranging from
convicting faculty to self-archive and helping them do so to
training users in using IRs (as well as other e-print
services worldwide). These services will cost money.

Don’t want libraries to lead the IR effort if this is true?

In the words of Bob Dylan:

I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn’t drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, "Good luck."

Moving on.

CB: “The agreement also states that the e-print must contain
a fair amount of information about the publisher and the
paper: the published article’s citation and copyright date,
the publisher’s address, information about the publisher’s
document delivery service, and a link to the publisher’s
home page.”

SH: That’s just fine too. It is only good scholarly practice
to provide the full reference information and to link to the
official version of record for the sake of all those
potential users who can afford it. What is wrong with that,
and why would any author not want to do that?

Sure, an author would want to provide a citation to the
published paper and a link to it, but I suspect few will be
excited about providing a fair amount of advertising
information for the publisher in their e-prints, such as the
publisher’s address, home page, and document delivery
service. It’s not a deal killer, but it’s more work for
authors or IR staff. The more individual publisher
variations that there are in copyright transfer agreements,
the harder it is for scholars and IR staff to meet these
varying requirements.

CB: Second, it would be helpful if such directories could
identify whether articles can be deposited in key types of
archives. I know that we don’t want the color codes to look
like SpeedyGrl.com’s Ultimate Color Table, but I think that
this is an important factor in addition to the type of
e-print permitted.

SH: They already do. The main distinction is the author’s
own institutional archive versus central (3rd-party)
archives. It is the former that are the critical ones. The
rest can be done by metadata harvesting.

The SHERPA colors do not make this distinction. Neither do
the otherwise helpful notes. You must look at each specific
agreement (if there is a link to it).

CB: Fourth, although copyright transfer agreements have
always been a confusing mess, now we want authors to
actually read and evaluate them, not just mindlessly sign
them like they did when digital archiving wasn’t an issue.
And institutional repository managers (or archive managers)
need to make sense of them post facto to determine if
articles can be legally deposited and what terms apply to
those deposits. So, maybe it’s time to tilt at a new
windmill: a set of standardized copyright transfer
agreements. I know, it’s like trying to herd several
thousand hyperactive cats. But, a few years ago, getting
standardized use statistics for electronic resources from
publishers seemed hopeless, and some progress has been made
on that score.

SH: No, it’s not more windmills or red herrings that
researchers, their institutions, their funders, and research
itself need: What they need is to go ahead and self-archive.

Developing clear, understandable standard copyright transfer
agreements is a red herring? Let’s look at just one aspect
of the problem: IR managers’ copyright concerns. I offer
some quotes:

"One aspect of the survey [baseline survey of research
material already held on departmental and personal Web pages
in the ed.ac.uk domain] that is not shown in the results is
the lack of consistency in dealing with copyright and IPR
issues that scholars face when placing material online. Some
academic units have responded by not self-archiving any
material at all. A rather worrying example of this is the
School of Law (—do they know something that we don’t?) A
small percentage of individual scholars have responded by
using general disclaimers that may or may not be effective.
Others, generally well-established professors, have posted
material online that is arguably in breach of copyright
agreements, e.g. whole book chapters. Most, however, take a
middle line of only posting papers from sympathetic
publishers who allow some form of self-archiving. It is
apparent that if institutional repositories are going to
work, then this general confusion over copyright and IPR
issues needs to be addressed right at the source." [2]

"Filling a repository for published and peer-reviewed papers
is a slow process, and it is clear that it is a task that
requires a significant amount of staff input from those
charged with developing the repository. Although we have
succeeded in adding a reasonable amount of content to the
repository we have also been offered significant amounts of
content that cannot be added because of restrictive
publisher copyright agreements. In some cases academics have
offered between ten and twenty articles and we have not been
able to add any of them to the repository. This is a clear
demonstration that major changes need to take place at a
high level in order for repositories to be successful." [3]

Certainly, all OA advocates are eager to get on with the
business of doing OA vs. simply reflecting on it, and few
have done as much as Stevan to advance the cause, but, in my
view, the issues I’ve raised warrant further consideration
and action.


1. Susan Gibbons, "Establishing an Institutional
Repository," Library Technology Reports 40, no. 4 (2004):
54, 56.

2. Theo Andrew, "Trends in Self-Posting of Research Material
Online by Academic Staff." Ariadne, no. 37 (2003),

3. Morag Mackie, "Filling Institutional Repositories:
Practical Strategies from the DAEDALUS Project," Ariadne,
no. 39 (2004),

Best Regards,

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Assistant Dean for Digital Library
Planning and Development, University of Houston,
Library Administration, 114 University Libraries,
Houston, TX 77204-2000. E-mail: cbailey_at_uh.edu.
Voice: (713) 743-9804. Fax: (713) 743-9811.
Open Access Bibliography: http://info.lib.uh.edu/cwb/oab.htm
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography: http://info.lib.uh.edu/sepb/sepb.html
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog: http://info.lib.uh.edu/sepb/sepw.htm
Received on Thu Apr 28 2005 - 14:09:57 BST

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