Re: preservation vs. Preservation

From: C.Oppenheim <C.Oppenheim_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 13:54:49 -0000

Preservation with a capital P is an important function for scholarly
organisations, and to promote OA whilst taking no account of the needs of
Preservation is being short-sighted. It would be so much better if OA
initiatives took Preservation issues on board from the start and did not
take the approach "don't let's worry about that because that's not the
priority for OA and it's a problem for a future generation to deal with."

I draw an analogy with power generation. Proponents of nuclear power say
"we have a looming energy crisis; nuclear power is a solution that is
available now, does not increase greenhouse gases,, and should be promoted."
When challenged about long-term storage and disposal of waste, their
attitude is "let future generations deal with that problem.". I don't find
that approach at all convincing.

Please can the long-term problems be addressed from the start?

Professor Charles Oppenheim
Department of Information Science
Loughborough University
Leics LE11 3TU

Tel 01509-223065
Fax 01509-223053
e mail
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2006 1:05 PM
Subject: preservation vs. Preservation

> This is perhaps a good juncture at which to make it explicit that there
> is "small-p preservation" and "large-P Preservation." Of course GNU
> Eprints,
> like everyone else (including ArXiv since way back in 1991) is doing
> small-p preservation, and will continue to do so: Open Access is for the
> sake of *immediate* access, today, tomorrow, and into the future -- and
> this, in turn, is for the sake of maximising immediate usage and impact,
> today, tomorrow, and into the future. Hence small-p preservation is a
> necessary means to that end.
> But big-P Preservation, in contrast, is Preservation as an end in itself:
> as the motivation for archiving in the first place; or as a pressing need
> for ephemeral or fragile "born-digital" contents; or as a responsibility
> for content-providers (journal-providers) or content-purchasers
> (subscribing libraries) or content-preservers (deposit/record libraries)
> who need to ensure the perennity of their sold/purchased product.
> So it is absurd to imagine (and for that reason needs to be stated
> explicitly, again and again, even though it is patently obvious) that
> Eprints is either oblivious to small-p preservation or that its contents
> are one bit more or less likely to vanish tomorrow than any other
> digital contents that are being conscientiously preserved and migrated and
> upgraded today, keeping up with the ongoing developments in the means
> of preservation.
> The difference between preservation and Preservation is that preservation
> is
> not an end in itself, it is a means to an end (which is immediate, ongoing
> access-provision and usage), whereas Preservation is an end in itself.
> Why is it so important to make it crystal clear that Eprints and OA are
> *not* for Preservation projects? that their primary motivation is *not*
> to ensure the longevity of digital contents (even though Eprints and OA
> *do* provide longevity, and do keep up with whatever developments occur
> in the means of long-term preservation of their contents)?
> Because OA's target contents are 85% missing! The pressing problem of
> absent content cannot be its Preservation! Eighty-five percent of the 2.5
> million articles published annually in the world's 24,000 journals are
> not being self-archived today (and, a fortiori, were not self-archived
> yesterday, or the month/year/decade before). What has been -- and
> continues to be -- lost, as a consequence of this, is not the contents
> in question (for they are being Preserved in their proprietary-product
> version, by their producers [publishers] along with their purchasers
> [libraries]).
> What has been (and continues to be) lost for the 85% of annual OA target
> content that has not been (and is not being) self-archived, is *access*,
> *usage*, and *impact*. That is the true motivation for Eprints and OA
> self-archiving. And (listen carefully, because this is the gist of it!):
> that content will *never* be self-archived by its authors for the sake
> of Preservation, because it *need not be*: its Preservation is already
> in other hands than its authors (or its authors' institutions), as it
> always was, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be. The
> mission of authors and their institutions was not, is not, and should
> not have to be the Preservation of their own published journal article
> output [but see Note below**].
> Nor, by the same token, is it the mission or motivation of authors'
> institutions to create Institutional Repositories (IRs) for the
> Preservation of their own published journal article output. If there is
> no better reason for creating OA IRs today than the Preservation of one's
> own journal article output, then there is no reason for institutions to
> create OA IRs today, and no reason for their authors to self-archive. This
> is a logical, empirical and practical fact, stated (recall, again) at a
> historical moment when 85% of OA target content is still missing, even
> though it is overdue, even though its self-archiving has been feasible
> for years, and even though its continuing absence entails that 85%
> of maximised research usage and impact (i.e., impact from usage by all
> would-be users rather than only those whose institutions can afford
> journal
> access) continues to be lost.
> To wrongly identify the mission or motivation of Eprints or OA
> self-archiving
> with the need to Preserve digital contents is to provide yet another
> (strong)
> reason for authors *not* to self-archive. Because Preservation is simply
> no
> reason at all (for OA self-archiving).
> And to subsume the urgent mission of finding a way to generate that
> missing 85% of OA target content under the murky mission of the generic
> Preservation of generic digital content is simply to miss the point
> of OA self-archiving altogether, and to imagine that it is merely
> yet another instance of Preservation-Archiving -- whose mission and
> motivation, to repeat, yet again, is not immediate, urgent, long-overdue
> content-provision, access-provision, and usage/impact-maximisation,
> but long-term content-Preservation, as an end in itself.
> So please, let us reassure those who might be fussed about it, that
> the contents of OA IRs like Eprints can and will continue to be
> preserved, but that to be Preserved is not their purpose, nor the
> purpose of self-archiving: immediate and ongoing access-provision
> and usage/impact-maximisation is their purpose. And that purpose is
> currently not being met -- not because the OA contents are at risk of not
> being preserved today, but because (85% of) the OA contents are at a
> *certainty* of not being *provided* today.
> The OA problem, in other words, is not Preservation tomorrow, but
> Provision
> today. Hitching today's Provision problem to tomorrow's Preservation
> problem
> is yet another recipe for prolonging the non-Provision of 85% of OA's
> target
> content.
> What is needed for the provision of the missing 85% of OA's target content
> is author motivation; and the empirical findings on how OA enhances usage
> and impact go only part of the way toward engaging author motivation. The
> critical missing bit to ensure the provision of the missing content is
> institutional OA self-archiving mandates, *not* the plugging in of OA as
> merely another plank in the institution's generic Preservation platform.
> I sense I am repeating myself -- but it appears to be needed,
> for the conflation of the Preservation-archiving mission and the OA
> access-provision mission just keeps recurring, deferring time, energy
> and motivation from OA access-provision, which is Eprints' raison d'etre.
> [**Note: One last, somewhat subtler point, almost need not be stated, but
> it's probably better to make it explicit too, even though it is highly
> premature and highly hypothetical: If and when it should ever transpire --
> and there is as yet no sign at all that it will -- that 100% OA via 100%
> self-archiving, having been neared or reached, should cause radical
> changes
> in the journal publishing system, forcing publishers to down-size into
> becoming only peer-review service-providers and certifiers, rather than
> also being the analog and digital product access-providers, as they are
> now, thereby forcing them to off-load access-provision and archiving
> onto their authors' institutions, *then*, and only if/when "then" ever
> comes, authors' institutions will inherit the primary-content Preservation
> mission, and not just the supplementary-content preservation mission.
> But before that hypothetical contingency needs to be faced, there is
> still the very real, unsolved problem of getting that missing 85% of OA
> target content systematically self-archived. Let us not continue delaying
> that actuality by getting caught up in or deflected by hypothetical
> speculations.]
> Stevan Harnad
> American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Tue Mar 07 2006 - 13:35:39 GMT

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