Learning from the successful OA IRs

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 15:20:51 +0000

Paula Callan of Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
has summarised some extremely useful data on the actual efforts and
costs that were involved in setting the QUT OA self-archiving policy
onto it's now successful and unstoppable course. (I hope Paula will post
it to this Forum.)

The data, especially on QUT's false-starts and how they were eventually
remedied are especially instructive. It is ever so important that
other institutions contemplating costs and strategies learn from QUT,
so they can emulate its success and also spare themselves the time and
effort and expense that were expended on options that did not work or
proved unnecessary.

My own reading of the QUT history is this: that at first QUT did
too little, and then it did too much. All that are really needed are
the following six components, the first three (*) being long-term ones
and the last three being only for the start-up years:

    *(1) An OAI-compliant IR, set up and maintained

    *(2) An official institutional policy requirement to deposit the
    final accepted, peer-reviewed draft (not the publisher's PDF) as
    an institutional record-keeping matter: a fulfillment condition
    for annual review, for research assessment, and for standard CV

    *(3) Impact incentives (clear, easily accessible and displayable
    download/citation statistics, clear information on the OA citation
    advantage and its link to promotion and research income; possibly
    some initial token start-up incentives offered by the institution too,
    monetary or material)

    (4) Activist librarian support for approaching authors to elicit
    the final draft for depositing, and even doing the deposit for them
    if necessary (needed for initial start-up years only)

    (5) Allowing restricted-access deposits as an option, and offering
    to take any copyright concerns off the author's hands, with the
    library doing any necessary checking or follow-up

    (6) Minimizing all copyright checking and follow-up, by making
    open access the default access-setting for all deposits, pending
    any request-to-remove from the publisher, and restricted access
    reserved only for special cases (with the automatic email-eprint
    option as a back-up)

My guess is that if the optimal strategy is adopted from the outset,
skipping the false starts, the start-up cost will prove much lower. The
long-term maintenance costs, once the depositing practice is familiar
and habitual, will be lower still.

I suggest that the architects of the few successful, experienced *OA*
IRs to date (CERN, Minho, Southampton. SURF/DARE) make a strategic
document summarising the components that were essential to their success,
with supporting data and cost/time estimates for start-up and long-term,
based on their actual data and experience It would be a good information
source to synchronise with the RCUK forthcoming policy announcement.

(Of course, these considerations are all institution-based: Once funder
self-archiving mandates such as RCUK's are adopted, they will greatly
speed up and simplify the start-up process for the institutions.
The Wellcome Trust's policy is probably helping already.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jan 19 2006 - 15:30:31 GMT

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