Re: Why Cornell's Institutional Repository Is Near-Empty

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 02:55:41 +0000

On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, Phil Davis wrote:

> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > The only thing Cornell needs to do if it wants its IR filled
> > with Cornell's own research output is to mandate it.
> It sounds simple enough. Make one's faculty do what they don't
> see as necessary themselves. This can the solution to every
> institution's ills, as long as we have a Philosopher King running
> our universities, and a naive belief that the ignorant faculty
> masses can be ruled by a strong, wise, and benevolent leader.

Green OA self-archiving can, and should be, and will be, and is being
mandated, just as publish(-or-perish)ing can, and should be and has been

It does not take a Philosopher King to make a few elementary conclusions
from the following empirical data:

    (1) It is an empirical datum that OA self-archiving enhances research

    (2) It is an empirical datum that researchers need and want enhanced
    research impact.

    (3) It is an empirical datum that only about 15% of researchers
    self-archive spontaneously.

    (4) It is an empirical datum that self-archiving can be and has
    been mandated.

    (5) It is an empirical datum that when mandated, self-archiving
    reaches 100% in about 2 years.

        Sale, Arthur (2006) Researchers and institutional
        repositories, in Jacobs, Neil, Eds. Open Access: Key
        Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 9,
        pages 87-100. Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited.

        Sale, A. The Impact of Mandatory Policies on
        ETD Acquisition. D-Lib Magazine April 2006,

        Sale, A. Comparison of content policies for institutional
        repositories in Australia. First Monday, 11(4), April 2006.

        Sale, A. The acquisition of open access research
        articles. First Monday, 11(9), October 2006.

        Sale, A. (2007) The Patchwork Mandate
        D-Lib Magazine 13 1/2 January/February

And if that empirical evidence is not enough to convince you that there
is nothing even faintly regal or philosophical about any of this, maybe
money will be able to talk louder:

    Houghton, J., Steele, C. & Sheehan, P. (2006) Research Communication
    Costs in Australia: Emerging Opportunities and Benefits.
    A report to the Department of Education, Science and Training.

    Houghton, J. & Sheehan, P. (2006) The Economic Impact of Enhanced
    Access to Research Findings. Centre for Strategic Economic Studies
    Victoria University

    Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated
    online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving
    the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and
    easier. Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

    Harnad, S. (2005) Making the case for web-based
    self-archiving. Research Money 19 (16).

    Harnad, S. (2005) Maximising the Return on UK's Public
    Investment in Research.

    Harnad, Stevan (2005) Australia Is Not Maximising the Return on
    its Research Investment. In Steele, Prof Colin, Eds. Proceedings
    National Scholarly Communications Forum 2005, Sydney,

> The goal of our paper was not to demonstrate that IRs are a
> failure.

Perhaps not; but the paper did manage to convey the fact that Cornell's
IR is a failure, to date, insofar as capturing Cornell's article output
is concerned. What the paper itself failed to convey was what to needs
be done about it.

> It was to find out why they are not serving the
> purpose(s) we intended them to serve. This is why we focused on
> non-use, and why our subtitle reads: "Evaluating the Reasons for
> Non-use of Cornell University's Installation of DSpace."

As noted in my critique, Cornell is no exception, and the fact that IRs
without mandates are not filling was already well known from the
empirical surveys (by Alma Swan) you failed to cite.

    Why Cornell's Institutional Repository Is Near-Empty

The problem, to repeat, was already known. (Just a glimpse at the growth
data in ROAR for any archive would have revealed it at once.)

The reasons Cornell faculty gave were quite familiar too, being already
the subject of FAQs for years now. (Classifying them is left as an
exercise to the reader: Please let me know if you find any new
categories that need to be added to the existing ones.)

> If we are to work at an institution where our researchers have
> the freedom to chose how they disseminate and archive their work,
> then it is important to understand the beliefs and motivations
> behind their behaviors.

Disseminating and archiving (over and above merely publishing in a journal)
are new, online-age functions, with no precedents. Faculty are slow on
the draw, in picking up on the possibilities and the benefits, to them,
their universities, their funders, the R&D industries, students, the
developing world, and the tax-payers who fund their funders, and to
research productivity and progress itself. Green OA mandates are meant
to get them up to speed, in the online age, in their own interests, as
well as those of their universities, their funders, the R&D industries,
students, the developing world, the tax-payers who fund their funders, and
to research productivity and progress itself -- just as publish-or-perish
mandates did, in the paper age. All we're talking about is a few extra
keystrokes, after all. The publish-or-perish mandate has already taken
care of the lion's share of them.

    Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the
    Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving

> These results may lead to building
> better services around repositories, actively harvesting
> documents on personal and laboratory websites rather than waiting
> passively for individuals to deposit them

Harvesting articles that are already online is a splendid idea, and the
IR softwares are already developing some capabilities for that. But to
harvest an author's articles, you first need a mandate...

(It does not, and never has mattered who actually does the keystrokes.
Green OA mandates are keystroke mandates. The keystrokes need to be
done, whether by authors, their students, their research assistants,
their secretaries or their librarians. It is only keystrokes that stand
between us and 100% OA. It is the keystrokes that need to be mandated.)

> educating faculty on copyright law

Heaven forfend! That's part of Cornell's folly!

    Cornell's Copyright Advice: Guide for the Perplexed Self-Archiver

Don't try to educate faculty on copyright law! Copyright law is a mess
in the online medium: The blind leading the blind.

The solution is the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) mandate
which *moots* the copyright issue completely, unbundling the deposit
keystroke mandate from the (optional) question of when to set access to
the deposit as Open Access versus Closed Access. Deposit itself is
merely an internal institutional record-keeping matter. Publishers and
copyright lawyers have absolutely no say in that matter.

    Generic Rationale and Model for University Open Access
    Self-Archiving Mandate: Immediate-Deposit/Optional Access (ID/OA)

And to tide over research access needs during any embargo, there is the
IR's EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button for any would-be user of a Closed
Access document. (Its metadata are visible webwide.)

> repurposing library staff to deposit the work of faculty

No point, if the deposits are not mandated.

> and even enlisting publishers to become part of the repository chain.

Umm, what do you have in mind there? Harvesting Gold OA articles? That's
the trivial bit (since they're already OA!). Harnessing the articles in
Green non-OA journals? Those publishers have already given the author
the green light to self-archive, but surely you don't expect them to
do the depositing for the authors. (Often the endorsement is only for
the author's final draft, not the publisher's PDF.) And some of those
"Green" publishers -- and most of the Gray ones -- are busy lobbying
against Green OA self-archiving mandates: Do you think they would be
eager to help mediate deposit on behalf of the unmandated authors?

> These solutions are much more difficult than a simple mandate,
> yet ultimately, their effects may be more lasting.

Difficult indeed, without the mandate first. (And getting the mandates
has taken long enough already so it no longer qualifies for the
descriptor "simple.")

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Tue Mar 20 2007 - 09:48:42 GMT

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