Re: Against Conflating OA Self-Archiving With Preservation-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 23:22:53 +0100

    Prior Amsci Topic Thread:
    "Against Conflating OA Self-Archiving With Preservation-Archiving"

On Tue, 14 Aug 2007, Peter Hirtle wrote:

> When I speak of "archives"... it is as an archivist.
> For my community, a term like "self-archiving" is an oxymoron -

I think we need not be that rigid with the word "archiving." It really
just means storing. The relevant thing for OA is that self-archiving
provides free online access, not that the deposit is being preserved.

(It *is* being preserved, too, but that is not the point: We are talking
about authors' final accepted drafts, not the publisher's PDF or the paper
edition: the latter is the one that preservationists should be preoccupied
with. The self-archived version is a supplement, not a substitute.)

> Self-archiving and open access are fine for providing immediate
> access to one's work. I have used both.

That's it. And hence the discussion should really end there, insofar as
OA is concerned...

> But no self-archive or
> open access system (or institutional repository, for that matter)
> yet meets the standards established for an Open Archival
> Information System-compliant (yet another "archive"), Trusted
> Digital Repository.

So what? OA is about the Access Problem, not the Preservation Problem.

> What is worse, as I argued in a paper in the
> April 15th issue of RLG DigiNews, most of the publishers that
> allow one to deposit post-prints in an institutional repository
> do not grant authors the rights to given to the repositories the
> permissions they need in order to be able to preserve the
> deposited articles over time.

So what? That will take care of itself, with time. What won't, is OA
itself. So let OA stay focused on providing OA, not veer off into the
irrelevance of preservation archiving.

(To ward off the inevitable torrent: Yes, of course OA content is being
preserved too -- otherwise the (little) stuff that authors had the good
sense to self-archive 20 years ago would not still be with us, and still
OA, today. And of course IRs can and will take care of preserving their
content. What they need, urgently, is that content, which authors are
not yet providing. Not publishers' permission to preserve, which is an
utter red herring.)

> The only way one can ensure that
> one's deposited information might be available over time is to
> use one of the author's addenda (or re-write the publisher
> contract).

The best way to ensure that it is accessible, and usable, today, is to
self-archive it. Worry about preservation once the content's up there
(and if/when it's the only version afloat). Not now.

> So there is an immense difference in terms. Self-archiving, open
> access, and institutional repositories denote computer systems
> that facilitate near-immediate access to writings. Trusted
> Digital Repositories (aka "archives") are established, funded,
> and have the necessary legal, technical, and administrative
> capabilities to maintain digital information over time in either
> a closed or open system.

Yes; and let us focus on author-version self-archiving and IRs for OA --
and publisher version archiving and TDRs for preservation.

> The problem with the language is that
> the use of the term "archive" in "self-archiving" implies to many
> that the TDR requirements are being met - when instead, in
> reality, access is guaranteed only as long as the "self-archives"
> does not have to make a copy of the original work.

Actually, neither OA self-archiving nor preservation archiving means
much to much of anybody, since so little of either is actually being done
today. But it seems to me that we can see and understand the difference in
the target content and the agenda, once it's pointed out, without having
to submit the locution "archiving" to any Solomonian slicing. It's just
normal polysemy...

> If one wants
> an article to be permanently available, one has to secure the
> necessary right to do so from the publisher and find a IR that is
> committed to becoming a TDR - or rely upon the publisher to take
> advantage of initiatives such as PORTICO and LOCKSS to ensure
> that access (open or otherwise) will exist over time.

Indeed. And let those who are fussed about that, devote their efforts to
making sure that the official versions of all 2.5 million annual published
articles in all 25,000 peer-reviewed journals are permanently available
by devoting themselves to TDR archiving.

And let those who are fussed about the needless daily, weekly, monthly,
yearly loss of research usage and impact from which research is currently
(anosognosically) suffering, devote their efforts to making sure that
the author's versions of all 2.5 million annual published articles in
all 25,000 peer-reviewed journals are at long last self-archived (sic)
in their authors' institutions' IRs.


Stevan Harnad

> Peter Hirtle
> On 8/12/07, Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> >
> > On Mon, 6 Aug 2007, Peter Hirtle wrote:
> >
> > > I for one am in agreement 100% with Sandy Thatcher on this. We
> > > already are suffering confusion because of the ill-advised
> > > decision to use terms like "self-archiving" and "open
> > > archive," both of which have nothing to do with archives or
> > > the permanent retention of knowledge.
> >
> > Both terms were perfectly fine for providing online access
> > (permanently, of course).
> >
> > But "open archive" then went on to denote OAI-compliant and
> > interoperable, but not necessarily Open Access, so "Open
> > Access" was needed as an extra descriptor. "Repository" was
> > (and is) of course entirely superfluous ("archive" would have
> > done just fine), but now "Institutional Repository" has
> > consolidated its supererogatory niche, so OA IR is what we have
> > to make do with.
Received on Thu Aug 16 2007 - 11:18:44 BST

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