Generic Rationale and Model for University Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 11:57:29 +0000

Universities are invited to use this document to help encourage the
adoption of an open access self-archiving mandate at their institution
(Hyperlinked version available at: )


1. Research Accessibility

1.1 There exist 24,000 peer-reviewed journals (and conference
proceedings) publishing 2.5 million articles per year, across all
disciplines, languages and nations.

1.2 No university anywhere, not even the richest, can afford to
subscribe to all or most of the journals that its researchers may need
to use

1.3 Hence no article is accessible to all of its potential users, and
hence all articles are losing some of their research impact (usage and

2. Research Impact: Usage and Citations

2.1 This is confirmed by recent findings, independently replicated by
many investigators, showing that articles for which their authors have
supplemented subscription-based access to the publisher's version by
self-archiving their own final drafts free for all on the web are
downloaded and cited twice as much across all 12 scientific, biological,
social science and humanities disciplines analysed so far. (Note: there
are no discipline differences in benefits of self-archiving, only in

2.2 The total citation counts for articles submitted to UK Research
Assessment Exercise (RAE) are also very closely correlated with
departmental RAE rankings (despite the fact that citations are not
directly counted by RAE). More citations mean higher RAE ranking.

2.3 Hence citation counts are (i) robust indicators of research
performance, (ii) they are not currently maximised for those articles
that are not self-archived and (iii) those articles that are being
self-archived have a substantial competitive advantage over those that
are not.

3. University Self-Archiving Mandates Maximise Research Impact

3.1 Only 15% of the 2.5 million articles published annually are being
spontaneously self-archived worldwide today.

3.2 Creating an Institutional Repository (IR) and encouraging staff to
self-archive their articles therein is a good first step, but it is not
sufficient to raise the self-archiving rate appreciably above the 15%
baseline for spontaneous self-archiving.

3.3 Adding library help to encourage and assist staff to self-archive
raises the self-archiving rate somewhat, but insufficiently.

3.4 The correct measure of institutional success in self-archiving is
the ratio of annual self-archived articles in a university's IR relative
to that university's total annual article output.

3.5 The only institutions that are reliably approaching a 100% annual
self-archiving rate today are those that not only create an IR (3.2) and
provide library help (3.3) for depositing, but also adopt a
self-archiving policy requirement or mandate.

3.6 A self-archiving mandate is a simple and natural extension of
universities' already existing mandate to publish research findings
('publish or perish'); it is already linked to incentives by the fact
that staff are promoted and funded on the basis of research performance
indicators, of which citation impact is a prominent correlate, as in the
RAE (2.2).

3.7 Two international, cross-disciplinary JISC surveys have found that
95% of authors will comply with a self-archiving mandate (81%
willingly, 14% reluctantly).

3.8 The four institutions worldwide that have adopted a self-archiving
mandate to date (CERN in Switzerland, Queensland University of
Technology in Australia, Minho University in Portugal, and the ECS
Department at University of Southampton) have each confirmed the outcome
of the JISC author surveys (3.7), with their institutional
self-archiving rates reliably climbing toward 100%,whereas institutions
without mandates remain at the 15% spontaneous self-archiving baseline

4. Action: This University should now mandate self-archiving

4.1 This university should now maximise its own RAE ranking and set an
example for the rest of the world by adopting a self-archiving mandate

4.2 As indicated by the JISC survey and the empirical experience of the
other 3 mandating institutions (3.8): there is no need for any penalties
for non-compliance with the mandate; the mandate (and its own rewards:
enhanced research access and impact) will take care of itself.

4.31 What needs to be mandated:

    -- immediately upon acceptance for publication
    -- deposit in the university's Institutional Repository
    -- the author's final accepted draft (not the publisher's proprietary PDF)
    -- both its full-text and its bibliographic metadata (author, date,
    title, journal, etc.)

(Note that only the depositing itself needs to be mandated. Setting the
access privileges to the full-text can be left up to the author, with
Open Access strongly encouraged, but not mandated. This makes the
University's self-archiving mandate completely independent of
publishers' self-archiving policies.)

4.32 The Eprints software allows authors to choose to set access as Open
Access (OA) or Restricted Access (RA):
    OA: both metadata and full-text are made visible and accessible to all
    would-be users web-wide
    RA: metadata are visible and accessible web-wide but full-text is not

4.4 The decision as to whether to set full-text access as OA or RA can
be left up to the author; 93% of authors will set full-text access as OA
(4.2); for the remaining 7%, the Eprints software still makes it
possible for any would-be user web-wide to request an eprint of the
full-text automatically by email -- by just cut-pasting their own email
address into a box and clicking; the author immediately receives the
request and can instantly email the eprint with one click. The result
will be 100% access to all university research output, 93% immediately
and directly, with one keystroke, 7% indirectly after a short delay,
with a few extra keystrokes by user and author.

5. The Importance of Prompt Action

5.1 Self-archiving is effortless, taking only a few minutes and a few
keystrokes; library help is available too (but hardly necessary).

5.2 This university should not delay in adopting a self-archiving
mandate: 100% OA is both optimal and inevitable -- for research,
researchers, their universities, their funders, and the tax-paying
public that supports both the research and the universities. It will
also give this university a strong competitive impact advantage over
later adopters.

5.3 An early adopter not only provides a model for the world with its
university-wide self-archiving policy but at the same stroke it
maximizes its own research impact and research impact ranking.

5.4 The mandate need have no penalties or sanctions in order to be
successful; it need only be formally adopted, with the support of Heads
of Schools, the library, and computing services. The rest will take care
of itself naturally of its own accord, as the experience of Southampton
ECS, Minho, QUT and CERN has already demonstrated.

APPENDIX: Southampton University Resources for Supporting Open Access

A1 U. Southampton ECS department was the first department and
institution in the world to adopt a self-archiving mandate (2001).

A2 ECS hosts Psycprints (1991), BBSPrints (1994), Open Journals
(1995), OpCit (1996), CogPrints (1997); the American Scientist Open
Access Forum (1998).

A3 ECS designed the first and most widely used software for creating
institutional archives (Eprints, 2000), now already used by about 200
institutions worldwide; ECS also created Citebase (2002), the
citation-based OA search engine (well before Google Scholar).

A4 ECS conducted many of the seminal studies empirically demonstrating
the citation impact advantage of self-archiving across all disciplines;
ECS also maintains the growing and widely used bibliography of the
accumulating findings on the OA Impact Advantage.

A5 ECS/Eprints maintains ROAR, the Registry of Open Access
Repositories, tracking the number, size and growth of IRs and their
contents worldwide.

A6 ECS/Eprints maintains ROARMAP, the Registry of Open Access
Repository Material Archiving Policies, tracking the institutions
worldwide that have adopted self-archiving policies, from
recommendations to full mandates.

A7 ECS/Eprints maintains the ROMEO Directory of Journal Policies on
Author Self-Archiving: 93% of the nearly 9000 journals registered to
date (including all the principal publishers and the core ISI journals)
have already formally endorsed author self-archiving; only 7% of
journals have not.

A8 ECS/Southampton successfully lobbied the UK Parliamentary Select
Committee in 2004 to mandate self-archiving; this led directly to the
RCUK self-archiving mandate proposal, the Berlin 3 Policy Recommendation
(formulated at Southampton) and the development of RAE submission
mechanisms for the world's two principal IR softwares (Eprints, and
MIT's Dspace, both written by Southampton's Rob Tansley).

(Hyperlinked version available at: )
Received on Mon Mar 13 2006 - 12:23:47 GMT

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