Publishing Reform, University Self-Publishing and Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 14:19:15 +0000

SH: Here is a quick summary of points of agreement and disagreement with
the University of California (UC) view of Open Access (OA) and
Institutional Repositories (IRs) as described by Catherine Candee (CC in
her interview by Richard Poynder (RP) in "Changing the paradigm":

A version of this text with hyperlinks to the items cited is
accessible in my Open Access Archivangelism Blog:

(1) UC considers publication reform to be the goal, OA merely a means: I
would consider OA to be the goal and publication reform merely a
hypothetical possibility that might or might not follow from OA.

(2) UC considers providing OA to postprints (i.e., final drafts of
published journal articles) a lesser priority for IRs, I think they are
the first priority.

(3) UC moved away from Eprints and postprint self-archiving because of
the extremely low level of spontaneous uptake by UC faculty, assuming it
was because it was "too difficult." It is far more likely that the low
uptake was because UC did not adopt an institutional self-archiving
mandate. Those institutions that have done so have dramatically higher
self-archiving rates.

(4) UC instead outsourced self-archiving to an expensive service that,
being a secondary publisher, needs to expend a lot of resources on
following up rights problems for each published paper; the result so far
is that UC's eScholarship IR is still not self-archiving more than the
c. 15% worldwide self-archiving baseline for postprints.

(5) The other reason UC moved away from Eprints and postprint archiving
is because of its publishing reform goals, including university
self-publishing (of journals and monographs). I think monographs are
(for the time being) a separate matter, and should be handled separately
from journal article OA, and that peer review needs to be implemented by
a neutral 3rd party, not the author or the author's institution. The
immediate priority is postprint OA.

In summary, UC seems to be giving its own hypothetical conjectures on
the future of scholarly publishing -- and its own aspirations for the
hypothetical new publishing system -- priority over an immediate,
pressing, and remediable practical problem: the needless, daily loss of
25% - 250% or more of the usage and impact of 85% of UC research output.
Because researchers are relatively uninformed and uninvolved in all
this, they do not have a clear sense of the implicit trade-off between
(a) the actual daily, cumulative usage/impact loss for their own
research output, with its tested and demonstrated remedy, and (b) the
untested hypothetical possibilities with which the library community
seems to be preoccupied.

[Note: all hyperlinks have been added: they were not in the original RP

    RP: Initially you built the eScholarship Repository with the EPrints
software, which was developed at Southampton University in the UK?

    CC: Right. We started with Eprints, and the aim was to create what
people now call an institutional repository -- a repository where faculty
could put materials (text and images) that they wanted to disseminate,
or actually publish.

    RP: You later switched to the bepress software. Why?

    CC: We found it so, so, so difficult to get faculty even to test the
EPrints software that we abandoned the idea of providing a platform for
faculty to individually publish [sic, emphasis added] their own works.

SH: I think here is where the strategic error occurred. Not in switching
softwares (since the software makes absolutely no difference) but in
abandoning the goal of 100% OA for UC postprint output. The reason is
implicit in the words CC uses to describe it: The self-archiving of
already published postprints is not publishing at all, but merely
OA-provision -- except if the underlying goal is not OA, but

    CC: Around the same time we serendipitously encountered the bepress
software, and right away we could see that it would allow us to do
something much more important. We could see that if we used the bepress
software the repository could also support peer-reviewed publications.
Consequently, by the time we launched we had switched to a different
model, and we had adopted the bepress software.

SH: Again, it is hypotheses about publishing reform and aspirations for
UC self-publishing that motivated the change of "model." (Model for
what, one wonders? OA is not a model. It just a means of making journal
articles free for all online. It is publishing reform that involves
models. Better if UC had done the tested, demonstrated part first, by
adopting an institutional self-archiving policy, as at least four other
universities have since done, successfully, and once the doable part was
successfully done, moved on to the hypothetical part...)

    RP: How was the model different?

    CC: The bepress software allowed different units within the
University of California to become the gatekeepers, with all the
editorial and administrative ability resting with an academic
department, an institute, or a research unit, rather than with
individual faculty, or with the library.

SH: There are two issue here: (1) Did the Eprints software allow
departments or research units to be their own gate-keepers for
self-archiving? Of course it did, either within one Eprints
installation, or, optionally, across many, thanks to OAI
interoperability. But much more important: (2) Is local gate-keeping the
goal of UC researchers? Has the gate-keeping not already been done by
the peer-reviewers for the journal in which it was published? It looks
here as if, once again, the hypotheses about publishing reform and UC
self-publishing are driving the agenda, not researchers' immediate needs
(which are for maximizing research access, usage and impact, via OA).

    RP: So where EPrints software assumed that researchers would do the
inputting of papers themselves, bepress software was more suited to
third-parties depositing them?

    CC: That is one difference ? although, because the software is
difficult to use, Eprints submissions are often managed centrally.

SH: As this is not about defending the Eprints software in particular, I
only note in passing that the difficulty was not the software but the
fact that UC researchers were not required to self-archive, and hence
didn't. In institutions where self-archiving is required, it is done,
easily, by researchers themselves, not centrally. The central proxy
self-archiving is a start-up strategy, used successfully by some
institutions to set the practice firmly into motion; it is not a feature
of the software:

Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time
and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.

    CC: Additionally, the bepress software lent itself to the size of
UC; and it allowed the University to decide exactly what it wanted to
put in, and to brand everything in the way it wished.

SH: All the free softwares are likewise configurable in exactly the same

    RP: You were also able to outsource the hosting of the eScholarship
Repository to bepress?

    CC: Yes. It is hosted by bepress, but preserved here at CDL. What we
are doing is harvesting citations. We then send them to faculty members
saying that the listed works may be eligible for inclusion in the
eScholarship repository. It is a way to alert them to the repository,
and to the fact that they have content that could be placed in it.The
message sent to faculty is clickable, and when they click on the link it
brings them directly into the repository, where the citation data for
the paper automatically fills out the repository metadata fields for
them. This, by the way, is the one case where we allow authors to put
their content in directly themselves. However, we also allow them to use
a proxy -- so they can legally assign someone else to put their papers in
for them. The aim is to make the process as easy as possible, because
time is the biggest constraint when it comes to getting faculty to

SH: So far, this is all excellent practice, and an ingenious start-up
strategy (though only if coupled with an institutional self-archiving
requirement). But it is the next step that defeats it:

    RP: And you have contracted bepress to do rights clearance on the

    CC: Right. After the papers are submitted we pay bepress to check
the rights on them. That was a concession to the fact that bepress'
business would be threatened if they got sued for allowing something
illegal to be put into the repository. This part of the process is both
onerous and expensive, and we hope we will not need to do it at some
point in the future.

SH: So because UC have gotten into a 3rd-party publisher situation, they
face rights problems they would not face if it were all in-house UC
self-archiving. They are also incurring great additional expense (at a
time when institutions are being deterred from IRs and OA under the
false impression that it is expensive). Worst of all, so far the result
is still not more UC postprints becoming OA than the global 15% average:

    RP: I'm told you have acquired about 1,000 papers in this way...
1,000 postprints is a small drop in the ocean I guess. How many
researchers are there within the UC system?

    CC: UC is the largest public research university I know of. It has
ten campuses and around 16,000 faculty and researchers.

    RP: When you ask faculty for a postprint is it a request or a

    CC: It is not a demand. Clearly, incentive is the single biggest
issue for getting content in. Awareness is another issue, so we are just
starting some market research to discover what percentage of UC faculty
even know about the repository. I suspect it is less than half.

SH: Perhaps a UC self-archiving requirement would be worth considering
after all, since several international surveys have now reported that 70%
- 95% of faculty say they would comply with a self-archiving
  requirement, and the 4 institutions that have adopted such a policy so
far confirm that it works.

Swan, A. and Brown, S. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An author
study. Technical Report, External Collaborators, Key Perspectives Inc.

    RP: So you still have work to do in publicising the repository?

    CC: We do. While we are very excited that we have more than 200
departments participating in the repository we have no idea what
percentage of the faculty know about it; and we have no idea what
percentage would participate if they did know -- because there is no
overriding incentive for them to do so today. We need to understand the

SH: The missing element is the institutional requirement to deposit the
final accepted, peer-reviewed draft (not the publisher's PDF) as an
institutional record-keeping matter: a fulfilment condition for annual
review, for research assessment, and for standard CV

    RP: As your experience shows, creating a repository is only half the
task. You then have to fill it. For that reason there are growing calls
for funders to mandate researchers to self-archive their papers. Do you
think that that is the best way of filling institutional repositories?

    CC: Well, I wouldn't say that our purpose is simply to fill
institutional repositories. We built an institutional repository as one
way of providing an alternative to the current publishing system, and to
give faculty something to do with that copyrighted material that we keep
saying shouldn't be given away to publishers.

SH: Filling an OA IR with the institution's annual research article
output may not be the only possible goal for an IR, but it is surely the
most important priority at this moment for researchers, who need not an
alternative to the current publishing system but OA. Copyright retention
is not an end in itself for researchers either: OA is. And with OA,
copyright retention becomes moot.

    CC: It may turn out that institutional repositories aren't the way
to go however. For that reason we are also interested in encouraging
faculty to manage their copyrights differently, and to consider who they
give their manuscripts to, and where they commit their editing and
reviewing time. So our main focus is in accomplishing that, rather than
filling repositories.

SH: Why all this, when, in and of itself, that is not what faculty want
and need? It would be fine if copyright retention were an essential
means to an end that faculty do want and need, but it is not. OA is an
end in itself, and it does not require copyright retention when 93% of
journals have already given OA author self-archiving their green light:

    RP: Do you nevertheless anticipate that funders will eventually
introduce mandates?

    CC: Actually we expect that universities will make some sort of a
mandate before funding agencies do. In this regard there are a number of
white papers floating around the University of California right now. We
are waiting to see what happens to those.

SH: But the UC proposal is for copyright retention, whereas what is
needed is a self-archiving requirement. Copyright retention requires
needless re-negotiation with the 93% of journals that have already
endorsed OA self-archiving, and it puts 100% of authors at risk of an
unsuccessful re-negotiation, instead of just requiring that 100% of them
deposit, leaving the 7% to set access as restricted, pending
negotiations, if they wish?

    RP: ...Given what you say about rights, I 'd be interested to hear
more about the Scholarly Work Copyright Rights Policy white paper. This
proposes that UC faculty "routinely grant to The Regents of the
University of California a limited, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide,
non-exclusive licence to place the faculty member's scholarly work in a
non-commercial open-access online repository." Would this apply only to
journal articles or all the works of faculty, including books?

    CC: Ultimately it is intended to apply to all works, but starting
with journal articles.

SH: Does it make sense to hold back (and weigh down) the sure research
benefits of the self-archiving of published journal articles
(postprints) for the much vaguer and more controversial case of books?

    RP: If it does go ahead would you envisage a postprint mandate
following behind it?

    CC: Yes.

SH: A postprint mandate should not come behind a copyright blanket
retention mandate! That is like making a local emission-reduction plan's
adoption contingent on getting all nations to agree to sign the Kyoto

    RP: And you would welcome that?

    CC: I would. While I don't find the postprint issue as interesting
or exciting as trying to encourage new forms of communication, it is
strategically important -- because it would allow us to put in place a
production-level service capable of managing UC copyrighted material,
which would better prepare us for the future.

SH: Then why not adopt a postprint self-archiving mandate immediately,
instead of waiting for agreement on the much more demanding and
controversial copyright-retention policy?

    CC: ... eScholarship Editions are scholarly monographs encoded in
XML. ...As you know, the corollary to the serials crisis is that
libraries have less money to buy monographs, and so fewer monographs are
being published. The fact is, however, that an awful lot of monographs
could be published if the UC Press had more editorial bandwidth. So we
have been experimenting with empowering UC Press editorials boards, or
faculty editorial boards, to become, essentially, publishers. In this
way we can extend the work of UC Press.

SH: This is the UC self-publishing agenda, and it is fine, but why is it
being coupled with the OA IR issue, and worse, why is it being allowed
to hold it back? The (1) UC authors who publish their articles in
established peer-reviewed journals may often be the same as the (2) UC
authors of monographs, but their situations are very different. The
article authors already have publishers (not UC!) and need only OA. The
monograph authors may or may not have a publisher, which may or may not
be UC, and they may or may not want OA. Why should the straightforward
solution for (1) be constrained by the much less straightforward
solution for (2)?

    RP: It's clear you have a very broad view of the role of an
institutional repository. Advocates of self-archiving, by contrast,
insist that an institutional repository should only ever be viewed as a
postprint archive. What's your response to that view?

    CC: I think it is unfortunate that the term institutional repository
has come to mean something narrower. As I say, the postprint component
is the least interesting and ultimately the least important part of
this. So while right now it is tactically extremely important to deposit
postprints, ultimately I envision a very different arrangement between
universities and publishers than we have now.

SH: The reasoning here is unclear: Postprint OA is clearly the heart of
the OA movement, and an end in itself (even if there are further ends
thereafter). CC agrees that "right now it is tactically extremely
important to deposit postprints." Yet UC is not doing what needs to be
done to achieve that "narrower" immediate goal. It is instead aiming at
the "wider" hypothetical one, and the result is that only 1000 of the
"extremely important" postprints have been deposited in the UC IR to
date, while white papers are being written about retention, publishing
reform, and UC self-publishing plans. If the narrower postprint target is
indeed an important prerequisite for the rest, then Ii>why not make a
concerted effort to reach it first, and leave the more hypothetical
phase for afterword? Or at least do it in parallel.

    RP: You believe universities should be in control of the publishing
process, rather than managing papers that have been published by someone

    CC: That's right. Eventually I hope all the content will be hosted
and managed by universities themselves, and the publishing services
would be in the form of added value. So, for instance, a published
article would refer back to the raw article in the repository.

SH: This is all fine, but completely speculative. The course that will
be taken by journal publishing and monograph publishing, published by
universities or published by others, is right now a matter of pure
speculation, whereas the course that is taken in access-provision to a
university's own postprint output is a practical matter entirely in the
hands of the university and its researchers. Why is immediate OA to
postprints being held hostage to hypotheses about eventual publishing

    RP: What worries self-archiving advocates about this is that if
universities try to make institutional repositories too broad in
functionality they could delay the transition to an open access
environment; that we need to stay focused on the narrower view until OA
is achieved. You are arguing that we need to plan for the longer-term
future from day one are you?

    CC: I think so. Moreover, I don't see why a broader view would slow
OA down. It is a matter of getting the right platform and getting things
moving so that faculty can see that there are other things that can be

SH: But we have a clear example of "why a broader view would slow OA
down"! In 2001 UC adopted Eprints and waited to see whether its IR would
fill spontaneously. It did not. So instead of adopting a self-archiving
policy (as Southampton, QUT, Minho, and CERN have since done,
successfully filling their archives -- Eprints, Eprints, Dspace, and
CDSware, respectively), UC adopted another software -- and another
agenda instead of OA: publishing reform, copyright retention, and
university self-publishing.

    RP: I wonder if we might see increasing tension between researchers
and librarians over the issue of institutional repositories? I ask
because the primary aim of researchers is to achieve maximum impact for
their research; librarians, by contrast, are looking to create large
digital libraries or even, as in the case of UC, complete publishing
systems. Could this threaten the historic relationship between
librarians and researchers?

    CC: I can see such a tension theoretically: where resources were
limited, for instance, the aim of building a digital library could seem
to stand in the way of getting publishing out quickly. But ultimately I
think you are presenting a false dichotomy.

SH: The only tension is about lost time. UC, the world's biggest
university system, 5 years down the line after establishing one of the
first IRs, has 1000 postprints of UC published journal articles therein.
Meanwhile, tiny Minho has 3297 items, QUT has 2194, Southampton 7745
plus 9795 for its ECS department alone, and CERN, larger but nowhere
near UC in size, has 75,000 items. Assuming (as at Southampton and CERN)
that about 70% of these at least are postprints, it looks very much as
if an institutional postprint self-archiving policy has served these
other institutions well. Particularly instructive is CERN: Now that it
is firmly on the road to 100% postprint OA for its own vast output, and
only now, CERN is turning to the question of publishing reform. If all
other universities and research institutions (including the biggest, UC)
were to do likewise (in that order!), we would already be there (at 100%
OA) and in a far better position to contemplate the hypothetical
horizons of ensuing publication reform.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jan 19 2006 - 14:32:47 GMT

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