Re: Ian Gibson on open access

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Tue, 2 May 2006 10:57:59 +1000



Effective author support policies involve a plethora of activities, and
are well exemplified by the activities undertaken at QUT, Queensland
University and here. No doubt in many other places. They include (but no
university does all):

 * Assistance with uploading the first document (hand-holding). Maybe
    devolve this out to departments/faculties/workshops.
 * Fall-back positions which allow a subject-librarian, or a
    department/faculty office professional, to upload on behalf of an
    author who is not computer literate.
 * Provision for turning final manuscripts into pdf format (info about
    free OSS options and/or a library service).
 * Provision of as much [automated] statistical use information as
    authors find useful. See for example;id=460;year
 * League tables of document downloads (Do NOT publish or put on the Web
    league tables of academics by totals of downloads. This is
    counter-productive as the same few people are always at the top
    {sometimes because of extraneous discipline or popularity reasons},
    and everyone else feels aggrieved). Document download info seems ok
    as it is anonymized and variable. See for example;range=4w
 * Encouragement (or stronger) from a head of school or research
    coordinator &#8211; they need to be converted and they are
    intra-university competitive as well as being discipline-competitive.
 * Integration of the repository into school and university websites (eg
    instead of a list of publications on a web-page (always out of date)
    put a php/perl query on the repository for the particular author or
    authors (always up to date). Possibility needs promotion and
    education to web-page designers (may be academics).
 * Professional development workshops for PhD candidates to put their
    publications up (Important: these are Trojan horses. Maybe you can
    get a mandate for them ahead of academics/faculty)
 * Development of repository software to provide extra information to
    authors and possibly readers, such as citation counts.
 * Briefing meetings with heads of departments, deans and research
    directors. Keep it as routinized as possible: we are not trying to do
    something radical but to smooth something that should be a routine
    part of research activity.
 * When you have a mandated policy, act on selected
    departments/faculties in a sequential strategy. Do not attempt a
    scattergun approach. Again, it is routinization that you are after.
 * Some universities have introduced financial benefits for depositing.
 * Do not worry about metadata quality, nor bother authors about it.
    Authors are often as good as librarians, if not better. In any case
    the most popular discovery techniques are not dependent on metadata.
 * Provide a service for authors who are worried about copyright. It
    generally isn&#8217;t important nor is the service onerous.
 * &#8230; I am sure that there are more I have forgotten for the


Getting back to the requirement (mandatory) policy. I well understand
that most universities do not yet have such a policy. I think I know
exactly how many do. However, unless it is in your kitbag (like a
field-marshal&#8217;s baton) the university is wasting its money even
having a 5-15% full repository. Striving to achieve such a policy is
understandable and laudable, but it must be a continuous and strong push.


However, expending money on author support policies without a mandate is
like pushing a large rock up a hill. It does not work and is demonstrated
not to work. Precisely because of what I wrote earlier: the vast majority
of academics (85%+) are non-participants and will seize any excuse
however spurious to avoid doing any extra work. They are incapable of
being persuaded in the mass. Remember that I am a researcher, not a
librarian. I know the mindset of researchers.


So to summarize:

 * Try to get the mandate before the repository.
 * If you&#8217;ve got the repository before the mandate, make it
    crystal-clear to everyone (especially in higher management) that a
    mandate is in your sights and you are not going to let go of it until
    you get what you want and the forces of reaction are defeated. Use
    the word &#8220;luddite&#8221; if you have to.
 * Don&#8217;t expend significant amounts of time and money on
    author-support until you&#8217;ve got the mandate. It is pretty much
    wasted anyway, like flushing dollar notes down the toilet.
 * After you&#8217;ve got the mandate, go for full-on author-support. It
    will speed up the transition which will take 1-3 years.





From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Lesley Perkins
Sent: Monday, 1 May 2006 2:18 PM
Subject: Re: Ian Gibson on open access


Hello Arthur,

Point well taken. You make a strong argument, and the results of your
research are, as you say in your article, "striking." A mandatory deposit
policy is the holy grail.

As you know, there are still universities with IRs but no such policy.
When I'm speaking with academic librarians who are enthusiastic about OA
and are working at universities with IRs but no mandatory deposit policy
(at least, not yet), I need to give them a little something else to go
on, a glimmer of hope. They need concrete examples of how to, as you say,
"put effort into making researchers like doing it." So, I guess some of
us are, unfortunately, stuck for the time being with going at it a bit
backwards -- give researchers reasons to like depositing, and then force
them to do it!

In your firstmonday article you use the phrase "effective author support
policies." I'm curious to know what these are, specifically. If you think
everyone else on this listserv already knows, maybe you would be so kind
as to reply to me off-list (if you have time, of course).


Arthur Sale wrote:



Yes it will help, as do all supply-side interventions. For example, see
our ego-soothing (and useful) statistics generated on papers in our
w (also used in New Zealand, South Africa and the USA).


However, all such interventions have but a minor effect, unless
accompanied by a mandate. They simply don&#8217;t work on
non-participants. I have evidence of this in Australia &#8211; for
example the University of Queensland has pulled out every voluntary stop
and are still at 15% or less of their research output.


However, if you have a mandate, the increasing number of depositors
suddenly like to find lots of reasons to like what they are doing. This
is our experience in Australia, in the Queensland University of
Technology. See


So, the message remains as it has for several years: Each university
should have a mandatory deposit policy (aka requirement to deposit) as
the top priority. Every effort should be made to put this into place
first. Whether the deposit is open access or restricted access can be
left to the researcher or the library to decide. Secondly, once you have
such a requirement and not before, put effort into making the researchers
like doing it. It pays off in making the transition to 100% deposit
faster. I am doing work on this transition now (as yet unpublished).


Arthur Sale

Professor of Computing (Research)

University of Tasmania



From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Lesley Perkins
Sent: Monday, 1 May 2006 4:31 AM
Subject: Re: Ian Gibson on open access


I agree completely! (I think!)

Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not the least bit interested in
quibbling about primary vs. secondary reasons, or ideological crusading.
I'm a practical librarian. It seems to me the focus should be on what
works. If you say that demonstrating the impact factor will help, I will
certainly emphasize that in my future presentations. 

But it also seems to me that John Willinsky may be on to something when
he says we should be appealing to researchers' egos, by showcasing their
articles (deposited in IRs) in special sections on university, and
university library, homepages (and, as Peter Suber has pointed out, on
sites like Cream of Science.) If that strategy works, then maybe a policy
that mandate self-archiving will be a much easier pill for researchers to


Stevan Harnad wrote:

 On Sun, 30 Apr 2006, Lesley Perkins wrote:



 Forgive me for interrupting, but does it really matter if the reasons

for self-archiving are primary or secondary? Doing the right thing for

the "wrong" reasons is still the right thing. Wouldn't you say that

applies in this case?



It would perhaps not matter if people actually *were* self-archiving --

and mandating self-archiving -- for secondary or wrong reasons.


But the fact is that only 15% of papers are as yet being spontaneously

self-archived *at all*. And among the reasons why self-archiving is not

yet being done or mandated nearly enough is that secondary and wrong

reasons for self-archiving, or for mandating self-archiving, are simply

not compelling enough to make it happen.


Researchers will not self-archive -- and their universities will not

require them to self-archive their -- in order to make their papers freely

accessible to the general public. That is just too absurd. Both

universities and their researchers know perfectly well that most of

their specialized research papers are of no absolutely no direct interest

to the general public. Hence public access to them would be a ludicrous

(and readily defeasible) reason for requiring researchers to take the trouble

to self-archive them (little trouble though that is).


In contrast, both universities and their researchers know that

researchers' income and funding depends to a large on their research

impact. So demonstrating the strong and dramatic causal connection

between self-archiving and research impact *is* a compelling reason --

indeed *the* compelling reason -- for mandating it.


It is this strong and compelling causal connection between self-archiving

and research impact  -- well known to this Forum, but still too little known

to researchers and their employers and funders -- that needs to be

conveyed far more widely than this Forum, if we are to reach the 100%

OA that is already so long overdue.


Trading instead in secondary or wrong reasons is a good way to continue

ideological crusading if one feels one has a lot of time on one's hands

and has an appetite for that sort of thing, but it does not get much done.


I might add that -- however much it may preoccupy and exercise the

library community -- appeals to remedy the journal pricing/affordability

crisis will also fail to induce researchers to self-archive. Indeed,

any user-end rationale will fail. The appeal has to be to the *author*

as author -- not to the author as user (for authors already have the use of

their own papers). That means the primary (and secondary, and tertiary)

reason for self-archiving has to be based on the self-interest of the

author and his institution. And that means the impact of their (joint)

research output.


Stevan Harnad



Received on Tue May 02 2006 - 02:22:01 BST

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