Re: Poynder Again on Point on Institutional Repositories

From: Andy Powell <andy.powell_at_EDUSERV.ORG.UK>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 13:32:09 -0000

> Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 19:02:49 +0000
> From: Stevan Harnad <>
> Reply-To: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> <>
> To:
> Subject: Poynder Again on Point on Institutional Repositories
> Richard Poynder, the astute, eloquent chronicler of scholarly
> communication has done it again, with a shrewd, original and
> insightful review of the short history of the institutional
> repository movement.
> His conclusions are surprising, but (I think) very apt.
> ...
> Richard has proposed that it might be time for a parting of
> paths between the Generic Digital Curation/Preservation IR
> movement and the OA IR movement, and he might be right. One
> has a diffuse, divergent goal, the other a focused,
> convergent -- and urgent and immediately reachable -- goal,
> one that might now be hamstrung if it is subsumed under the
> diffuse, divergent goal of the other.

I may be missing the point here, but if Richard is correct in saying
that the immediate goal of 'open access' is being missed because of a
diversion into broader 'institutional repository' issues and, further,
that the OAI protocol itself is part of the 'problem' by allowing
repositories to expose only metadata rather than full-text (and that
support for the OAI-PMH hasn't resulted in the development of compelling
'eprint' discovery services anyway), then perhaps his conclusions don't
go far enough? Why talk about repositories at all? Why not simply say
that all scholarly output should be made available on the Web?

That would leave institutions free to decide for themselves whether they
reach the OA goal by developing an 'open access repository', by using a
mainstream content management system or by simply encouraging academics
to do whatever they do now to make their material available on the Web.

Note that I'm not necessarily endorsing this conclusion, just noting
that it seems (to me) to follow more logically from the arguments he
puts forward. To my mind, the language we use ("repository") is just as
much a part of the problem as anything else.


Head of Development, Eduserv Foundation
+44 (0)1225 474319
Received on Thu Mar 09 2006 - 02:05:41 GMT

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