Get the Institutional Repository Managers Out of the Decision Loop

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 10:40:46 -0400

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[Hyperlinked version of this posting is available
at:http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/260-guid.html ]

SUMMARY: Many Institutional Repositories (IRs) are not run by researchers
but by "permissions professionals," accustomed to being mired in
institutional author IP protection issues and institutional library
3rd-party usage rights rather than institutional author research
give-aways. The solution is to adopt a sensible institutional (or
departmental) deposit mandate and then to automatize the deposit
procedure so as to take Repository Managers out of the decision loop,
completely.

The optimal deposit mandate is to require Open Access deposit of the
refereed final draft, immediately upon acceptance for publication, but
there is a compromise for the faint-hearted, and that is the
Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate:

The only thing standing between us and 100% OA today is keystrokes. It is
in order to get those keystrokes done, at long last, that we need OA
mandates, and ID/OA is a viable interim compromise: It gets all N
keystrokes done for 62% of current research, and N-1 of the keystrokes
done for the remaining 38%.

For that 38%, the "Fair Use Button" will take care of all immediate
researcher usage needs for the time being. The robots will have their day
once 100% deposit mandates prevail and the research community tastes what
it is like to have 62% OA and 38% almost-OA world, at long last. For then
those Nth keys will inevitably get stroked, setting everything to Open
Access, as it should (and could) have been all along.

Peter Murray-Rust [PM-R] replied:

      "Stevan Harnad... has been consistent in arguing the logic
      [of what comes with the OA territory]... and I agree with the
      logic... [but]... several repository managers at the JISC
      meeting [said] I could not have permission to do [such
      things] with their current content. I asked 'can my robots
      download and mine the content in your current open access
      repository of theses?' - No. 'Can you let me have some
      chemistry theses from your open access collection so I can
      data-mine them?' - No - you will have to ask the permission
      of each author individually.

      "The MIT repository deliberately adds technical restrictions
      [on] printing their theses and this also technically prevents
      data and text mining...

      "In data-rich subjects, linking to repositories is often
      little use. I need thousands of texts on specialist machines
      accessed with high frequency and bandwidth.

      "My problem is not with Stevan^s views but that few...
      support... them, particularly not the repository managers.
      Maybe I^m too cautious^

The trouble with many Institutional Repositories (IRs) (besides the fact
that they don't have a deposit mandate) is that they are not run by
researchers but by "permissions professionals," accustomed to being mired
in institutional author IP protection issues and institutional library
3rd-party usage rights rather than institutional author research
give-aways.

The solution is to adopt a sensible institutional (or departmental)
deposit mandate and then to automatize the deposit procedure so as to
take Repository Managers out of the decision loop, completely. That is
what we have done in the Southampton ECS Departmental Repository, and the
result is an IR that researchers fill daily, as they complete their
papers, without any mediation or meddling by permissions professionals.
The author (or the author's designee) does the deposit and sets the
access (Open Access or Closed Access) and the EPrints software takes care
of the rest.

Institutions that have no deposit mandate have simply ceded the whole
procedure to IP people who are not qualified even to understand the
research access/impact problem, let alone solve it. All they are
accustomed to thinking about is restrictions on incoming content, whereas
the purpose of an OA IR is to allow researchers to make their own
findings -- outgoing content -- accessible to other researchers webwide.

The optimal deposit mandate is of course to require Open Access deposit
of the refereed final draft, immediately upon acceptance for publication.
But there is a compromise for the faint-hearted, and that is the
Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate:

This is the policy that will remove IP-obsessives from the loop: The
full-text and metadata of all articles must be deposited immediately, but
access to the full-text is set as Open Access if the publisher is Green
(i.e., endorses postprint self-archiving: 62%) and to Closed Access if
the publisher is not Green (38%).

For the articles published in the non-Green journals, the IR has the
semi-automatic "Email Eprint Request" Button (or "Fair Use Button"),
which allows any user who has been led by the metadata to a Closed Access
article to cut/paste his email address in a box and click to send an
automatic email to the author to request a single eprint for research
use; the author then need merely click on a URL to authorize the
semi-automatic emailing of the eprint.

Now, Peter, I counsel patience! You will immediately reply: "But my
robots cannot crunch Closed Access texts: I need to intervene manually!"
True, but that problem will only be temporary, and you must not forget
the far larger problem that precedes it, which is that 85% of papers are
not yet being deposited at all, either as Open Access or Closed Access.
That is the inertial practice that needs to be changed, globally, once
and for all.

The only thing standing between us and 100% OA is keystrokes. It is in
order to get those keystrokes done, at long last, that we need OA
mandates, and ID/OA is a viable interim compromise: It gets all N
keystrokes done for 62% of current research, and N-1 of the keystrokes
done for the remaining 38%. For that 38%, the "Fair Use Button" will take
care of all immediate researcher usage needs for the time being. The
robots will have their day once 100% deposit mandates prevail and the
research community tastes what it is like to have 62% OA and 38%
almost-OA world, at long last. For then those Nth keys will inevitably
get stroked, setting everything to Open Access, as it should (and could)
have been all along.

It is in that keystoke endgame that all publisher resistance will
disintegrate (and they know it, which is why they are lobbying so
aggressively against keystroke mandates!). But right now, publishers have
unwitting accomplices in institutional IP specialists, reflexively
locking in the status quo, blithely ignorant or insouciant about what OA
is actually about, and for. That is why ID/OA must be allowed to take
them out of the loop.

Just as I have urged that Gold OA (publishing) advocates should not
over-reach ("Gold Fever") -- by pushing directly for the conversion of
all publishers and authors to Gold OA, and criticizing and even opposing
Green OA and Green OA mandates as "not enough" -- I urge the advocates of
automatized robotic data-mining to be patient and help rather than hinder
Green OA and Green OA (and ID/OA) mandates.

In both cases, it is Green OA that is the most powerful and promising
means to the end they seek: 100% ID/OA will eventually drive a transition
to 100% Green OA and 100% Green OA will eventually drive a transition to
Gold OA. Short-sightedly opposing the Green OA measures now in the name
of holding out for "greater functionality" is tantamount to joining
forces with IP specialists who have no sense of researchers' daily access
needs and impact losses, and are simply holding out for what they think
is the perfect formal solution, which is all authors successfully
negotiating a copyright agreement that retains their right to make their
article OA.

First things first. We are HERE now (85% deprived of research content
even for non-robotic use). In order to get THERE (100% of research
content OA to researchers and robots alike) we first have to get those
keystrokes done. Please help, rather than just hope!

      PM-R: "Some publishers allow posting on green open access on
      web sites but debar it from repositories."

This is the sort abject and arbitrary nonsense that takes one's breath
away! Can these publishers define the difference between a website and a
repository? They are just ways that disk sectors are labelled. To block
such incoherent stipulations Southampton ECS has formally baptized its
researchers' repository disk sector as their "personal website." (This is
also why I object so vigorously to SHERPA-Romeo's slavish and solemn
canonizing of every announced publisher "condition" on deposit, no matter
how absurd. I stand ready to hear that there is a new SHERPA-Romeo
permissions category, colour-coded "chestnut" for those publishers who do
not allow deposit of articles by authors who have maternal uncles with
chestnut-coloured irises... Here too we detect the familiar mark of the IP
gurus...)

Stevan Harnad




Received on Tue Jun 12 2007 - 16:17:44 BST

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