Re: DASER 2 IR Meeting and NIH Public Access Policy

From: David Stern <david.e.stern_at_YALE.EDU>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 08:52:52 -0500


If you had stayed through the final presentation you would have heard one
other suggestion that directly addresses your highest priority:
immediately increasing the percentage of OA material in the repositories.

My suggestion was to place OA materials immediately in centralized
repositories rather than waiting for each researcher organization to
mount its own Institutional Repository (IR). 

arXiv was a success because it had an immediate critical threshold of
materials in a discipline.  This would not have happened if we had waited
for the majority of authors to have IRs.  Many important research
organizations still do not have IRs, and will not have fully functional
ones for some time for many reasons which must be accepted as reality.

Yes, we can harvest the information centrally for those with IRs, but we
can quickly increase the possibility of mass contributions through
providing and emphasizing shared repositories for those without IRs. 

We really don't need to do anything technical, as arXiv could immediately
add additional discipline archives.  We only need to redirect authors to
existing infrastructures.

Might this be a proactive and significant change in policy resulting in
immediate positive impact?


At 06:22 PM 12/5/2005, Stevan Harnad wrote:

      This is a summary (from my own viewpoint) of the Washington
      meeting this
      weekend sponsored by American Society for Information Science
      & Technology
      (ASIST), organized by Michael Leach (Harvard, President,

           Digital Archives for Science and Engineering Resources
      (DASER 2)

      (For some other slants on DASER 2, see these two blogs; but
      beware, as
      they do contain some notable garbles and omissions, having
      been blogged in
      real time: Dorothea Salo and
      Christina Pikas )

      DASER 2 rehearsed some familiar developments, highlighted
      some of them,
      and brought out one potentially important new one (re. the
      NIH Public
      Access Policy).

      The familiar developments were the worldwide growth in
      repositories (IRs), and in new services to help institutions
      to create,
      maintain or even host IRs: ProQuest (using Bepress software),
      Central (using Dspace software) and Eprints Services (using

      Fedora software was also discussed, but it was quite apparent
      (at least to
      me!) that at this DASER meeting, whose specific focus was
      science/engineering resources -- hence Open Access (OA) IRs
      in particular,
      targeting the self-archiving of institutional peer-reviewed
      science/engineering article output, in order to maximise its
      usage and impact, rather than digital curation in general --
      Fedora's much
      wider and more diffuse target (the collection and curation of
      any and all
      institutional digital content, incoming or outgoing, research
      otherwise) was not the urgent priority. Indeed, there are
      good reasons for
      expecting that if the IR movement first puts its full weight
      and energy
      behind the focussed archiving of 100% of each institution's
      own OA IR
      target content, that will itself prove to be the most
      effective way to
      launch and advance the more general digital-curation agenda

      There was likewise considerable time devoted to the future of
      with much discussion of OA publishing and the possibility of
      an eventual
      transition to OA publishing. But here too, the lesson was
      that the best
      contribution that OA IRs in particular can make to this
      transition is to hasten their own transition to the
      self-archiving of 100% of their own OA target content.

      Present and contributing very constructively were the two
      Learned Society
      Publishers in whose discipline author self-archiving has been
      going on the
      longest, and has gone the farthest (having reached 100% years
      ago in some
      fields): The American Physical Society (the first publisher
      to adopt [in
      1994] an explicit "green" policy on author self-archiving
      [today about 76%
      of publishers and 93% of journals are green]) and the
      Institute of Physics
      (likewise green, along with some notable experiments in
      "gold" OA

      The keynote speaker was Jan Velterop, formerly publisher of
      "pure gold"
      BioMed Central, and now director of OA for Springer's
      "optional gold" Open
      Choice. Jan's main concern was (understandably) to encourage
      authors to
      pick the gold option and to encourage their institutions and
      councils to fund the author costs.

      Jan applauded the growth in the IR movement but noted a
      decrease in the number of postings on the American Scientist
      Open Access
      Forum (AmSci) in 2004-2005 compared to prior years, and
      worried that this
      might reflect a decrease in OA momentum.

      On the contrary: the decreased AmSci volume was intentional.
      In 2004, a
      new policy for AmSci postings was announced, reserving the
      Forum for
      concrete, practical discussion of institutional and
      research-funder OA
      policy design and implementation. AmSci's former open-ended
      (and unending)
      philosophical and ideological debate about open access was
      redirected to the many other OA lists that have spawned since
      the AmSci OA
      Forum's inception in 1998:

           "[T]his Forum, the first of what is now a half dozen
           devoted to OA matters, is -- as has been announced
           times -- now reserved for the discussion of concrete,
           practical means of accelerating OA growth." [December

      The DASER conference also devoted time and thought to the
      future of
      librarians in the digital and OA era; again, insofar as IRs
      are concerned,
      a good investment of librarians' available time, energy and
      resources is
      in helping to create and fill IRs, first OA IRs, and then
      expanding them to wider and wider digital content, thereby
      facilitating the inevitable and desirable transition. (My own
      view, however, is that librarians should abstain from
      speculation about
      the future of peer review, which is not really their field of
      expertise; I
      also think retraining librarians to become institutional
      publishers may not be the best use of their time and

      That librarians can be an enormous help in getting
      institutional authors
      to deposit their OA content in their IRs was illustrated in
      my own talk,
      using examples from around the world (CERN, Portugal,
      Southampton) but
      with especially striking data from Australia (with thanks to
      Arthur Sale
      and Paula Callan). I also reported on the growing evidence
      for the
      dramatic OA research impact advantage across all disciplines,
      including the humanities and social sciences, and its
      implications for
      research and researcher funding and progress..

      The OA impact advantage, IRs, and librarian-help are all
      conditions for filling IRs with OA content, but to make them
      into a
      jointly *sufficient* condition, one further critical
      component is needed,
      and this has been demonstrated in case after case: The only
      IRs that are
      well along the road toward toward 100% OA are the ones that
      also have an
      institutional self-archiving requirement. Without that,
      spontaneous OA
      self-archiving is hovering at about 5% - 15% globally..

      Which brings us to the last and newest development reported
      at DASER: The
      NIH public access policy is flawed and failing -- its deposit
      rate is at
      about 2%, which is even *below* the global average for
      self-archiving. But the good news is that NIH has realized
      this, and is
      planning to do something about it. The question is: what?
      There is a
      committee to look at this question, but at a quick glance, it
      does not
      seem to include those who actually know what needs to be
      done, and how, to
      make the NIH policy work. Represented are librarians and
      publishers, but
      missing are the institutional OA policy-makers that can make
      self-archiving work.

      But the solution is simple, and NIH can do it, very easily.
      First, it is
      important to face the 3 flaws of the current NIH policy very
      Here they are, in order of severity:

      (1) Deposit is *requested* rather than *required*.

      (2) The request is not for immediate deposit but deposit
      within one
           year of publication.

      (3) The request is for deposit in PubMed Central (PMC)
      (rather than in the
           author's IR, from which PMC could harvest it).

      The reason the deposit is not required and not immediate is
      related to the
      reason the deposit is in PMC instead of the author's own IR:
      NIH has cast
      itself in the role of a 3rd-party access-provider. This is
      fine, for its
      own funded research. But then it must deal with its
      publishers and their
      conditions (which include access-embargoes of up to 12
      months, in order to
      protect against perceived risks to their revenues).

      OA itself does not require a 3rd-party access-provider. All
      it requires is
      OA! And for that, any OAI-compliant archive, whether the
      author's own
      institutional IR or a central repository like PMC will do,
      because they
      are all equivalent and interoperable, in the OAI-compliant
      age, and all
      accessible to any user or harvester webwide.

      So NIH can have what it wants -- 100% of its funded content
      in PMC within
      a year of publication -- while still requiring deposit
      immediately upon
      acceptance (preferably in the author's IR, harvestable by
      PMC, but absent
      that, direct deposited in PMC).

      That leaves only the question of how to set the
      access-privileges, and now
      those can be merely the subject of a (strong) request to set
      them to OA
      immediately upon deposit -- but with the option left open
      (sic) for the
      author to set access instead as restricted to
      institution-internal and
      PMC-harvestable (or, for PMC, PMC-administrative-only) if the
      author has
      reason to prefer that (the reason presumably being that the
      article is
      published in one of the 7% of journals that are not yet
      "green" on
      immediate OA self-archiving).

      Is this merely a way of tweaking the current NIH policy so as
      to get
      deposits up to 100% without getting immediate OA up to 100%?
      The answer
      is: Yes and No. Yes, this policy will immediately drive up
      NIH deposits
      from their current 2% level to 100%, because deposit will be
      a fulfilment
      condition on receiving the NIH grant. But no, it is not true
      that it will
      not generate immediate 100% OA. For it can generate that too,
      with a far
      smaller delay-loop than 12 months: something more of the
      order of 12 hours
      at most:

      The solution is very simple (and we are already building it
      into the
      Eprints IR software): The metadata (author, title, journal,
      abstract) are of course all immediately OA for 100% of
      deposited papers,
      regardless of how the access-privileges for the full-text are
      set. That
      means that from the moment the text is deposited, the
      metadata are visible
      and accessible to all would-be users webwide, thanks to OAI
      and the OAI
      search engines, as well as to google scholar and the non-OAI

      But what about the full-text? For about 7% of journal
      articles (the ones
      in the non-green journals), access will not be immediately
      set to OA. What
      the Eprints software will do when a would-be user encounters
      this dead-end
      is that the IR interface will provide a link that will pop up
      a window
      allowing the user to send an automatic email to the author
      (whose email
      address is part of the IR's internal metadata) requesting to
      be emailed an
      eprint of the full-text in question. The requester's email
      will be sent by
      the software -- automatically and immediately -- to the
      author, with a
      prepared URL that the author need merely click on, in order
      to have the
      eprint immediately emailed to the would-be user.

      This author-mediated access-provision is not quite as
      instantaneous or sensible as immediately setting the
      full-text to
      unmediated OA, so the user can just click to down-load it,
      but it is
      effective 100% OA just the same. And NIH can (as now) harvest
      full-text whenever it likes, and can go on to make it OA in
      PMC whenever
      it elects to. None of that will be holding back OA any

      This immediate-deposit requirement is also the form that the
      RCUK policy
      is now taking; and it offers a general model for the rest of
      the world to
      adopt too.

      Note that this slightly modified policy completely side-lines
      publisher objections: It is merely a deposit requirement, not
      an OA
      access-setting requirement. It is left up to researchers and
      the would-be
      users of their research to sort out access-provision
      according to the
      needs of research -- exactly as it should be.

      This is of course also the policy that institutions should
      adopt, for
      their own institutional research output, whether or not
      funded by NIH or
      RCUK. An immediate-deposit requirement will result in IRs
      filling virtually overnight (at long last).

      (The other thing NIH should do is to couple its deposit
      requirement with
      an explicit statement of NIH's readiness to cover OA journal
      charges for those NIH fundees who choose to publish their
      findings in an
      OA journal.)

      Stevan Harnad

David Stern
Director of Science Libraries and Information Services
Kline Science Library
219 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208111
New Haven, CT  06520-8111

phone:  203 432-3447
fax:  203 432-3441
Received on Tue Dec 06 2005 - 16:25:26 GMT

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