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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 11:55:14 +0000

On Tue, 20 Mar 2007, David Goodman wrote:

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

> Stevan, who at Cornell do you propose should issue the mandate,
> and how do you propose to persuade them to do it? The university
> administration there is not unaware of the existence of
> self-archiving, and neither is the faculty.

I branched the critique to Cornell's provost, Carol Martin. Cornell's
Repository manager has already replied that they are aware of the
problem and looking into ways to increase the deposit rate.

> You give, as always, perfectly good reasons for the faculty to be
> convinced of the necessity, but repeating them any number of times
> is not going to convince any who have not been convinced already.

Thanks for the advice. I have found that repeating it *does* lead to results
eventually, even though it is tedious for me (and others). And, as you know,
I am always trying to add new angles to the strategy, and the way it is put.

(Examples of the success of relentless reasoned repetition, from
every possible angle, by me and by others, include, so far, the UK Select
Committee outcome, the RCUK outcome, the Southampton mandate, the ERC
mandate, the EURAB recommendation, the Zurich mandate, and, most recently,
the Liege mandate.)

Besides, as Alma Swan's international, multidisciplinary surveys have
shown, faculty need mandates, not one-by-one convincing. Despite
their prima-facie Zeno's Paralysis and the opinions underpinning it,
95% report that they will comply with a self-archiving mandate -- over 80%
of them willingly. And Arthur Sale has confirmed that they actually do,
when mandated.

        Swan, A. (2006) The culture of Open Access: researchers'
        views and responses, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key
        Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 7. Chandos.

        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.

        Harnad, S. (2006) Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's
        Paralysis, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic,
        Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 8. Chandos.

> The same is true of the administration. Probably they are not yet
> convinced--in common with the administration of all 200 or so US
> universities. There is obviously some step in the argument that seems
> obviously reasonable to us, but which not one single administration
> out of them all agrees with.

Obviously, so I (and others) keep working, relentlessly, on trying to
get administrators to (1) listen and (2) understand. (That is what the
ID/OA mandate was designed for. I doubt that the provosts on my CC
list have as yet paid it enough attention to be able even to repeat back,
in their own words, what ID/OA is, and why. Nor have they noticed the
inherent contradiction in signing their institution's support of the
FRPAA global Green OA Mandate yet not adopting a local institutional
Green OA Mandate of their own in concert. But the tokens are dropping
-- still too slowly, yet perhaps a bit faster each time, worldwide.)

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

David, if you have a constructive, substantive suggestion, please make
it. But just rehearsing the all-too-well-known fact that little is
happening is not news, not substantive, not informative, and not helpful.

> Alternatively, they may think that they cannot persuade the faculty or
> successfully require it. There is a balance in research universities
> between what the administration would like to demand and what the
> faculty is willing to accept, and the better the university, the
> stronger the position of the faculty (as the best will be easily
> able to go elsewhere).

This is simply parroting the opinion that the Swan survey evidence
contradicted, and the Sale findings confirmed to be contradicted by
actual practise. If you can think of a way to hasten provosts' taking
cognizance of the evidence, please share it; but don't keep citing the
status quo as evidence of its own immutability: It is mutating, just
too slowly.

And are you seriously suggesting that faculty would sooner resign than
perform -- or delegate the performance of -- a few extra keystrokes
(having already done the keystrokes to write the paper, under the
existing publish-or-perish mandate)?

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

University self-archiving mandates don't even require sanctions for
non-compliance: They merely need to be officially adopted. "Mandate"
means mandate in both senses: "require" and "give official green
light to do": Nature, and the dramatic benefits of OA take care of
the rest, as Sale's outcome studies demonstrate.

> Obviously the administrations--all 200 of them, acting independently--
> do not think the result worth the difficulty. It is unlikely
> to be ignorance. It is unlikely to be stupidity to the extent
> necessary--administrators are usually good judges of what they can
> succeed in doing. Obviously academic faculty and administrators do
> not accept one of the premises. Instead of repeating why they should,
> it might help to figure out what the critical one is.

It is not just likely to be but *is* ignorance -- curable by knowledge,
if and when we can get them to listen long enough and attentively enough
to understand what is at issue and what is being proposed. (If you have
any concrete suggestions on how to get them to listen, I'm listening!)

NIH did not listen (when warned in advance that a non-mandate would not
work, and why). They then went on to reap what they had sown. Now, they
are planning to take corrective steps. Maybe others will learn from this,
and take the right course in advance.

> (I do not pretend to know, though I have my guesses). This is a
> serious request for you to do what you rightly say the purpose
> of the list is, find the appropriate argument that will work for
> getting OA. But the results make manifest that the arguments now
> being used do not work. A result of zero out of 200 after 5 years
> is not a record of success.

David, the "appropriate argument" (and evidence) is already there;
it is simply not being listened to. Having you publicly point out that
obvious fact as if it were evidence that the argument and evidence are
not "appropriate" is not particularly useful, or informative.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Tue Mar 20 2007 - 12:07:35 GMT

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