Two Happy Accidents Demonstrate Power of "Eprint Request" Button

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 13:07:06 +0000

    Increasing Institutional Repository Content with "email eprint" Button

    New Request Copy feature in DSpace

Here are two rather remarkable anecdotes about the recently created
"EMAIL EPRINT" button that allows any would-be user webwide to email a
semi-automatic "eprint request" to the author of any eprint in an IR that
has been deposited as "Closed Access" rather than "Open Access" to request
an individual copy for personal use. (The author need merely click on an
"approval" URL in his email message in order to fulfil the request.)

Two recent "accidents," occurring independently at two different
institutions, provide dramatic evidence of the potential power of this
feature: The button is intended to tide over researcher usage needs
during any embargo interval. As such, it is expected to apply only to
a minority of deposits (as the majority of journals already endorse
immediate Open Access-setting: ).

The two accident-anecdotes come from University of Southampton and
Université du Québec à Montréal:

Southampton has many IRs: A departmental IR (Department of Electronics
and Computer Science) already has
an immediate full-text deposit mandate, but the university-wide
IR does not yet have a mandate, so it
has many deposits for which only the metadata are accessible, many
of them deposited via library mediation rather than by the authors
themselves. This will soon change to direct author deposit, but meanwhile,
"The Button" was implemented, and the result was such a huge flood
of eprint requests that the proxy depositors were overwhelmed and the
feature quickly had to be turned off!

The Button will of course be restored -- with the LDAP feature used
to redirect the eprint requests to the authors rather than the library
mediators -- but the accident was instructive in revealing the nuclear
power of the button! Authors, we expect, will be gratified by the
countable measures of interest in their work, and we will make a
countable metric out of the number of eprint requests. Authors will
be able to opt out of receiving eprint requests -- but we confidently
expect that few will choose to do so! (Our confidence is based on many
factors, take your pick: (1) Authors' known habit of looking first at the
bibliography of any article or book in their field, to see "Do they cite
me?" (2) Authors' known habit of googling themselves as well as looking
up their own citation-counts in Web of Science and now in Google Scholar.
(3) Employers' and funders' growing use of research performance metrics
to supplement publication counts in employment, promotion and funding

Much the same thing happened at UQaM but
this time it was while a new IR was still under construction, and its
designers were still just testing out its features with dummy demo papers
(some of them real!). "The Button" again unleashed an immediate torrent
of eprint requests for the bona fide papers, so the feature had to be
(tremulously, but temporarily) disabled!

Caveat Emptor!

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Nov 20 2006 - 13:45:42 GMT

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