Re: Against Conflating OA Self-Archiving With Preservation-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 12:40:34 +0100

    -- With most researchers still unaware of Open Access (OA) self-archiving
    and how or why they should do it

    -- With only 15% of researchers self-archiving spontaneously of their
    own accord

    -- With research institutions and funders still dallying about whether
    and why to mandate self-archiving

    -- With the author's own final refereed draft a far less vulnerable
    target for opposition by the publisher lobby than the publishers'
    proprietary PDF

This hardly seems the time to compound misunderstandings and try to ground the
rationale for OA and self-archiving on an incoherent premise: "preservation"

The author's final draft is not what needs the preservation, the author's
proprietary draft is.

The purpose of OA self-archiving is not to *preserve* the published article, nor
to *substitute* for it. It is to provide a *supplement* to it, for those would-be
users who cannot afford access to the publisher's proprietary version, in order to
maximize research usage and impact.

It will not induce the 85% of researchers who do not now self-archive of their own
accord to tell them that they should do it for the sake of preservation -- let alone
preservation of their final authors' drafts in place of the publisher's PDF.

It will not even induce enough researchers to self-archive to tell them they
should do it for the real reason for OA, which is access/impact maximization, not
author-draft preservation.

Nor will it induce research institutions and funders to mandate self-archiving to
tell them they should do it for the sake of preserving the author's final draft.

Nor will it diminish the efforts of the publisher lobby to prevent
author self-archiving mandates to say the mandates are for the sake
of preserving the publisher's proprietary version: Publishers will
simply (and correctly) point out that if preservation is the objective,
then there is no reason whatsoever why the publisher's should be made
Open Access! It need merely deposited in a (redundant) network of
designated Deposit Libraries that guarantee (Closed Access) archiving
and preservation (and that such measures are already on the way).

OA self-archiving will be mandated for the rational reason for which it
should be mandated: to maximize the usage and impact of research findings
by maximizing access to them -- by self-archiving author supplements in
their own institutional repositories.

Incoherent rationales and measures will just keep the long-overdue,
optimal and inevitable outcome in limbo still longer.

Some replies:

On Wed, 12 Jul 2006, Keith Jeffery (CCLRC) wrote:

> It is worth noting that an objection to open access voiced somewhat
> commonly is that the author is not confident that their work output will
> be preserved 'for all time'.

When authors express this worry they are not talking about Open Access,
nor about self-archiving, nor about their own final refereed drafts,
but about the official published versions of their articles, currently
in the hands of publishers and libraries.

> Of course there is no guarantee with a
> journal either but there is some confidence that research output
> deposited with a respectable journal will continue to be available
> (although in a digital age this may be less secure).

And your point is...?

> While I agree with Stevan that the primary objective is to rise from 15%
> to 100% deposition of metadata and full (hypermedia) publication I
> believe the word 'archive' is no bad thing as it gives authors the
> 'feeling' of long-term preservation of their research output.

You have just given a clear statement of the exact opposite: that depositing the
author's final refereed draft has nothing to do with the preservation of the
journal draft.

On Wed, 12 Jul 2006, Gareth Knight (Digital Preservation, SHERPA AHDS) added:

> I agree with your desire to remain focussed on a set goal - 100% self
> archived journal articles. However, I would disagree that open access and
> preservation have nothing in common. At the risk of repeating an argument
> that you will have heard many times in the past, digital preservation is
> much simpler if appropriate actions are taken at the deposit stage.

Deposit of *what*, *where*?

Unrefereed preprints of articles are *submitted* to (not deposited with)
the journal publisher. (Optionally, they may also be deposited in the
author's institutional repository, but this is not the target of OA,
or of self-archiving mandates: the refereed, accepted, final draft is.)

The (successfully) refereed, final draft is likewise *submitted to*
and *accepted by* the journal publisher. It is then copy-edited,
marked-up, type-set and the final print and XML/PDF versions are sold
to individuals and libraries as well as ware-housed (print version)
and deposited (XML/PDF version) in publishers' proprietary archives as
well as in Deposit Library archives, for preservation.

But what deposited document, deposited where, are you referring to
above? The author's refereed final draft (postscript), in the author's
own Institutional Repository? What on earth does that have to do with
the preservation of the publisher's proprietary XML/PDF?

> Although preservation and open access advocates approach the subject with different
> objectives, both access and preservation can be considered at the same time
> and appropriate actions taken to satisfy both requirements.

Approach *what* subject with different objectives? The subject and
objective of open access is free online access to research findings,
in order to maximize usage and impact. The subject and objective of
digital preservation is the preservation of the digital version of the
publisher's proprietary XML/PDF.

How can both access and preservation be considered at the same time when we are
talking about two different digital objects? How can action on one of these
objects satisfy the requirements on the other?

> A goal of the
> Preserv and Sherpa DP projects is to encourage debate on the subject and,
> more importantly, develop practical methods to preserve eprints, without
> disrupting or distracting from existing efforts to make research content
> accessible.

By all means debate (but deposit first). And by all means develop methods
to preserve digital content ("eprints") -- whether they are author
preprints, author postprints, or publisher proprietary XML/PDF.

But do not conflate these efforts with the efforts to get the missing 85%
of author postprints deposited, at long last, by mandating it. Confusing
authors and institutions about versions and purposes is not conducive to
inducing deposits (or deposit mandates). Only a clear, coherent rationale
can accomplish that.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Jul 12 2006 - 13:16:16 BST

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