Re: Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive as OA Back-Up

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2005 13:58:30 +0100

On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, Tim Gray wrote:

    Re: RCUK policy on open access

> For institutions without an OA Institutional Repository, could not an
> alternative requirement be to self-archive in a central (subject-based)
> repository?
> Ideally, it would be best if some funding could go towards setting up IRs
> and I agree that the introduction of the author-pays method 'muddies the
> waters'.
> But using a central repository could be a short-term stop-gap to avoid the
> 'easy opt-out' scenario that seems to present itself in the current proposal.

Yes, using a central repository *is* a short-term stop-gap to avoid the
'easy opt-out' scenario, and there exists an all-purpose one available for

    "Thanks to the efforts of Peter Suber in
    collaboration with Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive
    will now begin serving not only as a back-up for institutional OA
    archives worldwide, but also as an OA archive for those researchers
    who are not affiliated with universities or research institutions
    with OA archives of their own."

But please let us not consider this stop-gap as a final resting-point for
those whose institutions do not yet have an OA Archive!

Institutional OA archives are quick and inexpensive to create:

Institutional archives are the natural and universal solution for OA
provision in the OAI-interoperable age: Institutions, the primary
research-providers, self-archive their own research output, to the
co-benefit of their own researchers and themselves, maximizing the
visibility, usage and impact of that joint research output.

Institutions are also the ones best placed to measure their own research
output, to mandate its self-archiving, and to monitor compliance with
the mandate. Institutions also benefit from self-archiving
not only in the record-keeping for their own research assets, but in
the evaluation and rewarding of their own researchers' performance,
productivity and impact. Their archives' OAI-compliant metadata can then
also be harvested into central archives based on subject-matter or other
classification criteria thanks to their OAI-interoperability.

Apart from research-funders, there is no central "entity" that is in
a position to mandate or monitor self-archiving, or to co-benefit with
researchers in their research impact. Central archiving is hence merely a
provisional stop-gap measure, in order to ensure immediate 100% compliance
with the RCUK mandate, plugging the potential "no local archive" loophole
and opt-out clause.

Here is how Swan et al. summarised the advantages of institutional

    Swan, A., Needham, P., Probets, S., Muir, A., Oppenheim, C., O?Brien,
    A., Hardy, R. and Rowland, F. (2005) Delivery, Management and Access
    Model for E-prints and Open Access Journals within Further and Higher
    Education. Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE.

    "This study identified three models for open access provision in the
    UK: (a) the centralised model,where e-prints of articles are first
    deposited directly into a national archive and then madeaccessible
    to users and service providers; (b) the distributed model, where
    e-prints are depositedin any one of a distributed network of
    OAI-compliant institutional, subject-based and open-access journal
    archives, whose metadata are then harvested and made accessible to
    users and serviceproviders; and (c) the model we have termed the
    'harvesting' model, a variant of the distributedmodel in which the
    harvested metadata are first improved, standardised or enhanced before
    being made accessible to users and service providers. 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. The study therefore recommends the
    'harvesting' model [(c) above], constituting a UK national service
    founded upon creating an interoperable network of OAI-compliant,
    distributed, institution-based e-print archives. Such a service,
    based on harvesting metadata (and, later, full-text) from distributed,
    institution-based e-print archives and open access journals would be
    cheaper to implement and would more effectively garner the nation's
    scholarly research output. The model also permits further enhancement
    of the metadata to provide improved features and functionality.

 Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives" (1999)

    "PubMed and self-archiving" (2003)

    "Central versus institutional self-archiving" (2003)

    "A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy" (2004)

    "Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive as OA Back-Up" (2005)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Jul 01 2005 - 13:58:30 BST

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