Risk analysis - the researcher's point of view

From: Minh Ha Duong <haduong_at_CENTRE-CIRED.FR>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 11:14:08 +0100

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Dear all,

Arthur Sale recently posted a paper on Risk Analysis for research institutions deciding to set up Open Access Repositories.
Let us also consider that risk analysis from the researcher point of view.

The study of individual decision making under uncertainty (with apologies for ringing my own bell)
teaches us that objectively small probability events can matter a lot, especially since:
- Choosing a repository to manage oneÔ^└^┘s life production is a decision with high emotional stake
- There are irreversibilities with putting anything on the net
- The probabilities are unknown

Here are several risks associated with Institutional Repositories that are well worth mitigating :

- Technical and disaster risk can arise if IR are physically centralized at the institution.
This need to be mitigated by mirroring the archive using a different software, in a datacenter far away from the primary.

- One political risk is acceptability : big brother aversion could lead a significant fraction of researchers to reject an IR as a whole.
Network effects imply that this minority behavior is a risk for the community as a whole,
as it deprecates the integrity, hence the value of the IR .
The measure to alleviate this would be to harvest metadata in whatever repositories the researchers do archive in.
The immediate difficulty is that these repositories are not likely to contain all the metadata the IR tracks.
However, there are example of systems that harvest first, and allow to add metadata at a later time,
usually in a decentralized contributive way.
See e.g. CiteSEER in Computing Science, or RepEc in Economics.
The later even manages the relation between authors and labs and institutions.

- Another political risk is monetization. What garantee do the researchers have that the IR remains OA ?
Given the financial pressures on the research institutions as a whole,
if the repository is asked to recoup its costs, it could switch to a pay per article distribution mode.
An mirror of the archive which is not under government control would mitigate that.

- The country-specific dimension of risks could be mitigated by mirroring the archive in a different country,
or even best in a different cultural zone (continent).

I guess that my conclusion is that commingling Institutional Repositories with the Internet Archive and siblings
would increase their attractiveness for researchers,
and hence the rate of deposits we seek to maximize on this list.

Minh HA DUONG                                    Charg├ę de recherche CNRS
www.centre-cired.fr/perso/haduong/       CIRED, Campus du Jardin Tropical
tel: +33 1 43 94 73 81                   45bis ave. de la Belle Gabrielle
fax: +33 1 43 94 73 70                      F94736 Nogent-sur-Marne CEDEX
haduong_at_centre-cired.fr                                            FRANCE
Received on Fri Mar 10 2006 - 16:53:51 GMT

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