Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 02:53:26 +0100

        Hyperlinked version of this posting, with references:
We are close to the adoption of Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates
worldwide (with four of eight RCUK Research Councils plus the Wellcome Trust
having already adopted them in the UK, the FRPAA proposing their adoption in
the US, the EC Recommendation A1 proposing their adoption in Europe, at least
125 US university provosts expressing their support, and a number of individual
universities and research institutions already adopting institutional
self-archiving mandates of their own).

This is hence the opportune time to think of optimizing the formulation
of these mandates, so that they systematically interdigitate with one
another to generate all of OA's target content, across institutions,
disciplines, and nations worldwide, to confer the maximum of benefit in
a minimum of time. A seemingly small parametric or verbal variant can
make a vast difference in terms of the amount of OA a self-archiving
mandate produces, and how quickly and reliably:

    WHAT: The primary target content is the author's final, peer-reviewed
    draft ("postprint") of all journal articles accepted for publication.

        "The literature that should be freely accessible online is
        that which scholars give to the world without expectation of
        payment. Primarily, this category encompasses their peer-reviewed
        journal articles..." [Budapest Open Access Initiative]

Other contents are more than welcome too -- pre-refereeing preprints,
research data, theses, book-chapters, etc. -- but let us not forget that
peer-reviewed research is the primary target and raison d'Ítre of the
OA movement.

    WHERE: The optimal locus for self-archiving is the author's own
    OAI-compliant Institutional Repository (IR).

That is the locus which, once mandated, will systematically scale up to cover
all of research output space, worldwide. It is highly inadvisable to mandate
direct deposit in a Central Repository (CR) -- whether discipline-based,
funder-based, multidisciplinary or national. The right way to get OA content
into CRs is to harvest it, via the OAI metadata-harvesting protocol, from the
distributed OAI-compliant IRs. Not only should research institutions -- the
primary research-providers -- mandate the self-archiving of their own
researchers' output in their own institutional IRs, but research funders too
should mandate that their fundees self-archive in their own institutional IRs.
That is the most natural, universal and systematic way to reach 100% OA
worldwide, and also the fastest and surest.

    WHEN: The author's final, peer-reviewed draft (postprint) should
    be deposited in the author's IR immediately upon acceptance for

Most journals now endorse immediate OA self-archiving by their authors. But for
the minority of journals that do not, the deposit should be mandated to be
immediate anyway, and any allowable delay or embargo should apply only to the
access-setting (i.e., whether access to the deposited article is immediately
set to Open Access or provisionally set to Closed Access, in which only the
author can access the deposited text). This is called the "Immediate Deposit /
Optional Access" (ID/OA) mandate and it is infinitely preferable to any
delayed-deposit policy: In the ID/OA, the article's metadata (author, title,
journal, date, etc.) are immediately accessible webwide in any case, and
would-be users can request individual email copies from the author via the IR's
semi-automated EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button during any embargoed access period.

The case for immediate access is exactly the same as the case for Open Access
itself: otherwise research uptake, usage, impact, productivity and progress are
needlessly delayed or lost. And in many fast-moving fields the "growth tip" of
research product is within the first 6-12 months from the time the results are

    WHY: The purpose of mandating OA self-archiving is to maximize
    research usage and impact by maximizing user access to it.

The motivation for the Open Access movement -- and hence for OA self-archiving
by researchers and OA Self-Archiving Mandates by researchers' institutions and
funders -- is to maximize research access in order to maximize research uptake,
usage, impact, productivity and progress, for the benefit of research,
researchers, their institutions and funders, and the tax-paying public that
supports them and in whose interests the research is being conducted and

    HOW: Depositing a postprint in an author's IR and keying in its
    metadata (author, title, journal, date, etc.) takes less than 10
    minutes per paper.

However, surveys show that only 15% of authors will self-archive unless it is
mandated. Just requesting or recommending deposit does not work. Deposit
analyses comparing mandated and unmandated self-archiving rates have shown that
mandates (and only mandates) work, with self-archiving approaching 100% of
annual institutional research output within a few years. Without a mandate, IR
content just hovers for years at the spontaneous 15% self-archiving rate.

        Hyperlinked version of this posting, with references:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Sep 28 2006 - 03:08:09 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:31 GMT