Re: Open access jeremiads, archivangelism and self-archiving mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 03:55:33 +0100 (BST)

On Mon, 21 Aug 2006, xtal wrote:

> >But why on earth would one be more interested in the percentage of
> >papers that are self-archived *spontaneously* rather than in the
> >percentage that are self-archived when there is a self-archiving
> >mandate (> 90%)?
> The only interesting percentages are those of the documents
> really available and searchable openly (and easily, and globally -
> I mean not dispersed in various sites).

The point is that mandates generate far more content (100%). Spontaneous
self-archiving is only about 15%.

> Moreover, the only interesting databases or repositories
> are the complete ones.

Right. That's why mandates are needed to get from the spontaneous 15% to
the systematic 100%

> Incomplete open access databases are
> visited only by those who have no access at all to the (almost) complete
> commercial databases because serious research cannot be
> made from partial documentation (an as accurate as possible answer
> to the question "does that work has already been done" is crucial).

OA is for those who can't afford access. (Moreover, databases usually
have only metadata, not the full-texts themselves.)

> Untill
> they will be completed, Open Access Repositories will be used for
> demonstration purposes by teachers or the like, not confidently by
> professionnal researchers having to assemble a serious bibliography.

So let's get them completed, by adopting institutional (and funder)
self-archiving mandates.

> For accelerating the change, may be we have to modify the sentence
> "Publish or Perish" into "Publish Openly or Perish", meaning that researchers
> would be evaluated only for their open access papers.

That's a mandate with teeth; but just a mandate will do.

> Complete commercial databases cannot yet be afraid of OA
> databases at <15% completion. The real fight between commercial
> tools and OA ones witll occur at >95% completion of the OA.
> Not for tomorrow...

There is no fight. And it's not about OA versus databases, it's about OA
versus toll-access to the full-text, and even that only concerns those
who can't afford the toll access. The future of publishers or database
providers is not the issue. The present of research, researchers, their
institutions, their funders (and their funders' funders, the tax-paying
public, for whose benefit the research is being funded and conducted)

> PS1 - I do not think "France", I prefer to think "global".

OA is global: "Self-Archive Unto Others As You Would Have Them
Self-Archive Unto You."

> PS3 - The HAL repository accepts the deposit of lists of references
> which have no link to real documents... This has no interest
> at all (such lists are searchable openly at a number of places
> in the world, including in France at INIST).

You are quote right, and I agree.

> Accordingly, the increase of the number of entries in HAL is biased...
> Is the mixture of real complete documents and of limited references
> the rule at all OS repositories ?

Alas yes. Not only is only 15% of content of OA target content OA, but
that 15% represents only a small portion of the current contents of
those IRs that have any content at all! Look at ROAR and you will get
estimates of the respective full-text proportions for various IRs.

Chrs, S
Received on Thu Aug 24 2006 - 03:56:10 BST

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