The Patchwork Mandate

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 15:15:25 +1100

Over the last few months this list has been inundated by people looking
for policies to adopt for their institutional repositories, and
frustrated by their management&#8217;s inability to see that a mandate is
required. I haven&#8217;t been very helpful to the enquirers, because all
of the encouragement type policies are known to be quite inadequate.
However, I have done some thinking and have now put together a short
paper (4 pages) on an option for repository managers wanting to fill
their repositories under unhelpful conditions &#8211; The Patchwork

I encourage you to download the working paper from, as it has nice typesetting and
readability in a pdf file. You can even show it to your senior managers.
However, if you can&#8217;t or don&#8217;t want to, I have pasted the
text below.

Arthur Sale

Professor of Computing (Research)

University of Tasmania


                             The Patchwork Mandate

Technical Report

Arthur Sale, 11 November 2006

                        Policies for Repository Managers

This document is written mainly for repository managers who are at a loss
at what policies they (or their universities or research institutions)
ought to deploy. I make no bones about stating that there are only two
pure policies:

requiring (mandating) researchers to deposit, and

voluntary (spontaneous) participation.

                           The institutional mandate

The obvious and no-risk solution is for the institution to require
researchers to deposit their publications in the institutional
repository. There is ample evidence that this is acceptable to over 95%
of researchers, both in pre-implementation surveys and in
post-implementation evidence. One Australian university is leading the
world in collecting 70% of its annual research output and the fraction is
rising. This is not surprising, since the researcher&#8217;s world is
hemmed in with the requirements to teach, to ask for student evaluations,
to write and mark examinations, to supervise PhD students, to publish
research, to report to granting bodies, etc. However because of the age
of senior executives (Rectors, Vice-Chancellors, Presidents or the
Research Vice-Presidents, Pro Vice-Chancellors, etc) it may be difficult
to convince them that they have been carried into a new era of scholarly
dissemination while they weren't looking, and that their attitudes are
horribly obsolescent.

An institutional-wide requirement to deposit in the IR is the logical and
inevitable end-point. In fact it is exactly what is needed. Once such a
policy is in place the IR manager&#8217;s approaches to researchers and
heads of centers and all the plethora of feel-good activities actually
work. People who are required to deposit their publications are grateful
for advice. The occasional chase-up call is not resented. Just about
everything that the university can put in place (for example publicity
for deposits, awards for the best author or paper, assistance with
self-archiving, download statistics, etc) will begin to work as it
resonates with every academic in fulfilling their duty.

A mandatory policy will approach a capture rate of 100% of current
research publications, but over a couple of years. Figures of 60-90% can
be expected in a short time. See for some
data on how mandates actually work.

                            Voluntary participation

The &#8216;everything else&#8217; policies are not worth talking about
for long. In the absence of mandates, every encouragement policy known to
Man fails to convince more than 15% to 20% of researchers to invest the 5
minutes of time needed to deposit their publications. The percentage does
not grow with time. When you look at this closely, all these
encouragement policies (awards to top authors, regular articles in the
house magazine, great feedback, personal approaches, download statistics,
seminars, explanation of the OA advantages, etc) fail. This is a global
experience, but I have plenty of Australian examples. The reason is easy
to grasp: these activities appeal to the converted and the practicing
self-archivers, not the skeptics or the lazy. In other words they simply
pass over the heads of over 80% of the potential contributors without
engagement with the little grey cells.

I must emphasize that such policies are known to achieve no greater
deposit rate of current research than 30% and more usually around 15%.
The evidence can be produced and is absolutely clear. At such deposit
rates, one wonders why it is worth bothering having a repository or
undertaking the proselytizing activities, except simply to have a
repository in place (a yes/no tick).

It is also useless to look at growth rates of documents in the repository
without taking their publication and deposit dates into account. The
evidence shows that many 'converted' depositors busy themselves with
mounting all their old papers. This is not to be discouraged and makes
repository managers think they are achieving something, but it is not a
significant performance indicator. The only important performance
indicator is 'How much of your institution's annual research output
appears in your repository by (say) 6 months after year end?'

                             The Patchwork Mandate

So, many repository managers find themselves between a rock and a hard
place. They can't convince the senior executives to bring in a mandate,
and they know that voluntary deposition does not work. Fortunately there
may be a middle way or even a transitional way ahead. I call it the
patchwork mandate for reasons that will become obvious. Unfortunately we
don't have any evidence yet that this policy works on an institutional
scale, though there are significant pointers to indicate that it will.

So what is the patchwork mandate? Simply this:

1 Knowing that you have been unable to convince the senior
executives, you nevertheless personally commit to having a mandate across
your institution.

2 You aim to pursue a strategy that will achieve an institutional
mandate in the long term. It is highly recommended that you register your
intention to do this in ROARMAP so as to encourage other repository
managers caught in the same dilemma.

3 Since you can't get an institutional mandate, you work towards
getting departmental (school/faculty) mandates one by one. Each
departmental mandate will rapidly trend towards 100% and needs little
activism to maintain this level.

Let's look at this a bit more closely. We have solid evidence that
departmental mandates work, and much faster than university-wide
mandates. A year or so suffices to achieve a substantial acquisition rate
of current research. This is because there are fewer people involved, and
the researchers tend to trust their leaders more. It is also easier to
achieve conversion at the departmental level. Two documented examples are
ECS at Southampton University and the School of Computing at the
University of Tasmania (mine). Again see

What is a departmental mandate? A decision by the Head of Department (or
a Research Director or a democratic staff meeting) that all peer-reviewed
articles in the department must be deposited in the IR as a postprint, at
the time of acceptance. See for a draft
policy you can adapt. Its effect is immediate, and most members of the
department comply quite easily. The 'enforcement' of the policy (if any
is needed) is in the hands of the responsible person of the department,
and all it needs is to watch what people claim they have published and
ask "have you archived that yet?" That is enough &#8211; no punitive
action is required.

How do you achieve this? Well what you don't do is try a scatter-gun
approach across the institution. Nor only does it waste effort, but it
puts people's back up. You analyze all your departments and research
centers. You decide which senior people in them might be amenable to
persuasion. A high research profile is a good indicator, as is a
discipline where online access is already widespread. Another pointer is
an area where a funding body mandate is going to affect many people. You
know your institution better than I do, so choose your own criteria.

Then you concentrate on the leader of a department and possibly people
around him or her to firstly deposit their own current research, show
them what they can get out of it (for example download statistics), and
then persuade them that their whole department should deposit. Give them
the words to use. Suggest implementation. Provide support. Run seminars.
Provide monthly deposit data summaries. But all of this strictly targeted
at the selected department. Once you have a mandate from that department,
keep up your support, publicize successes across the institution, and
move on to the next target. Of course you might tackle a few targets at
the same time, but not too many. Successful departmental mandates are
what you are after..

You will end up with an odd collection of mandated departments, and the
rest being voluntary. Hence the term patchwork mandate, like a calico or
tortoiseshell cat. You won't achieve 100% deposit rates yet, but you may
begin to escape from the 20% ceiling of voluntary deposit.

When you as repository manager have (say) 40&#8211;50% of the departments
with departmental mandates, go back and argue with your senior
executives. If they still don't agree to bring in an institutional
mandate, tell them that you are going to tackle the remaining more
difficult departments, and that they (the executives) are now looking
like very silly neo-Luddites. Carry out your promise if you do say that.


I think that the patchwork mandate strategy will probably work. We are
trialing it in Australia. It won't achieve 100% content instantly, but it
is a clear way to work towards that. You can even explain it to your
senior executives and they probably won't stop you. They may even
encourage you to try it.

Just remember that voluntary persuasion of individuals is known not to
work beyond a pitiful participation level. Self-archiving needs to be
made part of the routine academic duty, and this requires a policy
endorsement by someone.

Received on Wed Nov 15 2006 - 04:53:58 GMT

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