Publish-or-Perish Mandates and Self-Archiving Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 12:57:22 +0100

On Thu, 21 Jun 2007, Sally Morris (Morris Associates, Publishing
Consultancy) wrote:

> It's one of the curious things about the 'Open Access movement' that uptake
> by the academics themselves (for whose benefit it is supposed to be) depends
> on compulsion.

Sally is quite right to point out that despite the substantial benefits
to researchers from making their publications Open Access, it is now
a historic fact that it required no less than a mandate from their
institutions and funders to induce them to go ahead and reap those

But if "compulsion" is indeed the right word for mandating self-archiving,
I wonder whether Sally was ever curious about why publication itself
had to be mandated by researchers' institutions and funders ("publish or
perish"), despite its substantial benefits to researchers?

And although I quite agree with Sally that it is researchers themselves
who are most to blame for the ludicrously late arrival of the optimal
and inevitable outcome (100% OA self-archiving), more than a few of the
34 causes of this "Zeno's Paralysis" can be attributed to obstacles that
their publishers had put in their paths:

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

Many thanks to Arthur Sale for his latest evidence of the success of
mandatory self-archiving policies, below.

Stevan Harnad

> From: Arthur Sale (U. Tasmania)
> Subject: Mandatory policy success
> The results of a survey carried out by the Australasian Digital
> Theses program have recently been released. The full report is
> available at
> It applies to the deposit of open access electronic copies of
> research theses (eg PhD) in university repositories in Australia and
> New Zealand (and thence searchable through the ADT gateway
> It is apparent from the report (and indeed highlighted by the
> authors) that a mandatory deposit policy results in a submission rate
> of 95% of all theses accepted, while its absence results in a
> submission rate of 17-22% (in other words, a pitifully empty
> repository). While this should not be news to anyone, the report has
> hard quotable facts on the success of an institutional mandatory
> policy over a substantial population of universities.
> 59% (ie 33) of Australian and New Zealand universities have mandatory
> deposit policies in place in 2007, so the technological change has
> gone well beyond the tipping point. I expect the remaining 41% of
> universities to follow suit in the very near future; the report
> suggests that 24% had already started planning to this end in 2006.
> In another interesting fact, three universities have provision for a
> thesis to be lodged electronically only (in other words no paper
> copy) and one is considering it. It is not clear how much this
> provision is used for hypermedia theses, or if it will spread.
> Arthur Sale
> University of Tasmania
Received on Thu Jun 21 2007 - 19:32:49 BST

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