Re: Comparing the Wellcome OA Policy and the RCUK (draft) Policy

From: Terry ,Mr Robert <r.Terry_at_WELLCOME.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 19 May 2005 18:36:47 +0100


If you can bear it posting this in its entirety first might be beneficial to the first time reader but, as always I would welcome your critique below an original posting.


I thought it might be useful, for those people who like to hear things direct from the horse's mouth, to provide a link [ ] to the press release mentioned by Stephan and again set out why funding institutions believe that central repositories are the best scientific solution for access to the research papers and the data they fund. The Trust and the Research Councils have institutions of their own (i.e. not part of a university) and so PMC will be their institutional repository and it is important to remember that the Trust operates globally supporting 4000 researchers in more that 40 countries - we need a repository that meets all our needs today and PMC offers that.

The reason the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council, the British Heart Foundation and the Arthritis Research Campaign with support from JISC are interested in exploring the possibility of establishing a UK portal for PubMed Central is that we want a long-term digital archive (i.e. not Word or PDF files but XML files) that will integrate the research literature with the data. We fund research from a scientific perspective, not its geographical location, and we want to ensure that when the literature is searched the search engine can go deeper than the metadata and provide links between, for example, genome sequence, chemical compounds or MRI scan images embedded in an article and databases such as PubChem and Genbank. It will move between the databases and PMC and visa versa - a Japanese or French team working on a gene but not publishing in English will be able to discover other research groups working on the same sequence. Teams working on drug
compounds but investigating different uses will be able to discover who else is working on that compound either by searching the literature or the database.

PMC already offers this functionality and that's vital to enhance the potential that the Internet offers. The life sciences have already moved beyond the need to read a word document on a local website. Institutional repositories may never offer the same degree of functionality until every single institution uses the same ingestion and storage system - OAI only links the metadata to files that might be in Word or PDF which may be unreadable in the years to come.

PMC will be the institutional repository for the National Institutes of Health, they are already talking to organisations in Japan and France and hopefully UK PMC will bring in the major funders of the life sciences in the UK - the database will be a truly interoperable global resource.

This doesn't preclude the universities using PMC to populate their own repositories but it has to be realised that science operates at the subject level and different disciplines move at different speeds and have different requirements. What is the most commonly held up example of an OA archive? arXive a subject based repository mirrored around the globe driven by the needs of the researchers not by their employing institution. For the life sciences the need is for integration between the literature and the data - as a strategic decision a global PMC offers the best long term solution: high quality ingestion and checking of papers, additional functionality by integrating literature with data, a more refined search facility tailored to the needs of life science researchers and a global data set.

This all creates the environment to make it happen so what about the encouragement? Well, from 1 October 2005 all new Trust grants will have to deposit their papers in PMC (we are currently working with NCBI to adapt the NIH ingestion system to allow this to happen) and from 1 October 2006 we will extend this condition to all our existing grant holders. We are allowing a maximum delay of 6 months i.e. many journals, and growing, appear in PMC immediately after publication this is the maximum delay - an immediate release is still the preferred option.

This allows for a period of adjustment in a rapidly changing market something that the learned societies, an important component of the life science community, appear to require. These are pragmatic, realistic and necessary steps none of which limit the development of institutional repositories.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: 19 May 2005 00:36
Subject: Re: Comparing the Wellcome OA Policy and the RCUK (draft)

On Wed, 18 May 2005, [identity deleted] wrote:

> ...[Concerning] the plans of the UK research councils [RCUK]
> and the Wellcome Trust to require their grantees to place copies of
> peer-reviewed research in open access archives some time after initial
> publication.
> -How effective will this move towards archives be if it relies on papers
> already published in peer-reviewed journals?

Maximally effective: Scientific/Scholarly research is reported in
peer-reviewed journals which first referee it to ensure that it is
correct and meets their established quality standards. (There are 24,000
peer-reviewed journals worldwide, across disciplines, their
track-records and standards known to research-users.)

That said, the self-archiving of pre-peer-review preprints is also to be
strongly encouraged. It is just that it is the accepted, refereed
version that is the main target of the OA movement.

> -Won't these journals just amend their copyright rules to prevent
> placement of their papers in archives?

Exactly the opposite. Publishers have been amending their copyright rules
to *allow* authors to self-archive, knowing that that is in the best
interests of research and researchers: 92% of journals have already
given their green light to author/institution self-archiving, the
biggest increase in green having occurred in the past 2 (OA) years:

> -In your view, what impact would widespread successful adoption of such
> archives have on researchers in different institutions (well resourced
> places... through to developing world)?

*All* researchers will benefit. As authors they will benefit from the enhanced
usage and impact:

And as users they will benefit from the enhanced access. Rich and poor
alike (the Harvards and the Have-Nots") will both benefit:

    "Access-Denial, Impact-Denial and the Developing and Developed World"

    "The Harvards, the Have-Nots, and Open Access"

> -Is the UK doing enough in this area and if not who should be doing more
> (government, academia, publishers)?

If RCUK announces the right self-archiving policy -- the one recommended
by the UK Select Committee

then the UK will be leading the world in doing exactly the right thing
(although France, Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia are not far

The publishers have already done their part, in going green.

Academia needs to do more, not just write "resolutions"
complaining about publishers' prices.

    "US University OA Resolutions Omit Most Important Component"

Nor is it enough for universities merely to create Institutional
Repositories and then wait for their researchers to fill them:

    "EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

Researchers will not self-archive until and unless they are *required*
to do so (less than half of them have self-archived even once, so only about
15% of annual articles are as yet being self-archived today). But if
researchers *are* required (by their employers and/or their funders)
to do so, 81% of them (in two international, interdisciplinary surveys)
reply that they *will* self-archive, and will do so *willingly*. Only 5%
reply that they will not comply:

So the solution is obvious: Each university needs to adopt a policy of
requiring the self-archiving of all of its research article output in
its own Institutional Repository,

exactly as recommended by the UK Select Committee as well as by

There are still a few wrinkles in the current draft of the RCUK policy
(see )
but these can -- and I hope will -- be ironed out.

> -Which countries are at the forefront of this [self-archiving] revolution
> and which are lagging behind?

The UK is leading, along with the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and
France. The US is lagging, but it will catch up. So will Developing
Countries. All that's needed is the right example to serve as the
policy model for the world research community.

> ...the Guardian article list the US as having 127 archives and the UK
> as having 54. The link from your Canadian piece gives these numbers as
> 128 and 55. Have you any idea which are correct?

The Canadian piece (not yet published) is slightly older, so its figures
are a few weeks out of date (I will update them). The number is always
increasing. You can check it for yourself:

Expect a big burst in UK numbers after the (right) RCUK Policy

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu May 19 2005 - 18:36:47 BST

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