Status Report on UK Institutional Open Archives

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 15:29:42 +0000

Tom Wilson, the editor of an OA journal (Information Research)
has just written an article in a CILIP magazine entitled "Institutional
open archives: Where are we now?" Library and Information Update. April

This is a fine and fair survey of the un-fine, un-fair pace of progress in
OA self-archiving in the UK, but Wilson draws altogether the wrong

    (1) It is a fact that UK Institutional OA Repositories (OAIRs)
    are not being filled with OA content anywhere near quickly enough.

    (2) It is likewise a fact that OAIRs are not being filled with OA
    content anywhere near quickly in any country in the world (except
    possibly the Netherlands, where DARE has provided a very promising
    incentive system).

    (3) It is a further fact that there are four institutions and
    one department that not only have OAIRs but that also have an
    institutional mandate to deposit in them: Unlike the rest of the
    world, those OAIRs are growing very robustly.

    (4) This outcome confirms resoundingly the finding of two
    international JISC author surveys that found that 95% of authors
    report that if their institution or funder mandated OA self-archiving,
    they would comply.

(Wilson cites this JISC study, but only to confirm that 92% of researchers
worldwide support OA and that -- of those that have *already* published
in an OA journal -- 71% are likely to do it again: Alas, fewer than
10% of journals are OA journals -- -- and only a
minority of authors have ever published in one of them!)

So, although praising actual funder self-archiving mandates (Wellcome
Trust) and promised (but not yet adopted) funder self-archiving mandates
(RCUK), Wilson draws the conclusion that the only way for OA is to
promote OA journals!

It is quite puzzling why Wilson would draw this conclusion from the
evidence he himself cites, since the logical and practical conclusion is
so obvious: UK institutions (and funders) need to mandate OA
self-archiving! That way they will fill their near-empty OA archives.

Wilson remarks on the fact that the University of Southampton -- and
especially one particular department at the University of Southampton
-- seems to be providing the lion's share of the UK's OAIR content, but
he neglects to mention that that particular Department has the only UK
self-archiving mandate!

We have already wasted 5 precious years of lost research access and
impact on a foolish "gold rush" focussed primarily on OA ("gold") journals
instead of OA ("green") self-archiving.

Now is not the time to swing back again to that low-yield,
low-probability option. Authors are spontaneously publishing articles
in OA journals even less than they are spontaneously self-archiving,
but self-archiving (green) can be mandated by research institutions and
funders whereas publishing in (or creating) OA journals (gold) cannot be
mandated *and spontaneous growth levels of both are clearly insufficient*.

Green and gold are complementary, but it is clear that 100% green is
within immediate reach, and awaits only the institution/funder mandates;
researchers will comply with self-archiving mandates, but they will not
self-archive spontaneously.

The best hope for Wilson's own OA journal (Information Research) is to
support OA self-archiving mandates. Once we reach the long-overdue goal
of 100% OA through self-archiving, the landscape and prospects will look
different for all concerned.

Stevan Harnad

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UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Fri Mar 24 2006 - 15:41:19 GMT

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