Re: OA in Europe suffers a setback

From: Talat Chaudhri [tac] <tac_at_ABER.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 15:19:33 -0000


To be clear, we will seek a university mandate in Aberystwyth, but
expect that compliance will only follow if backed up by adequate and
ongoing advocacy. I have also seen this morning a report of only 4% of
mandates succeeding, so I feel that I am receiving rather mixed messages
on this. I am not sure that lobbying parliaments to force funding bodies
to comply is the best first step, since, as you pointed out yourself,
funding bodies are increasingly going in this direction themselves (in
Britain, anyway), so it is clear that developing a voluntary code works
to this extent. However, despite the six out of seven funding bodies
requiring green OA, we do not yet see substantial compliance from
academics as a result. We now need a growth in awareness amongst the
authors, as well as among the funders. In short, inclusivity and rewards
tend to breed co-operation, whereas mere legal directives are generally
less well received. So the mandate from Brussels might not actually have
changed the immediate situation much, except perhaps in terms of

I take the point that not all research is funded, as I come from an arts
background myself, where it is less frequently so. Here the need for
advocacy is even stronger, as we have no carrot to offer except web
hits. On the other hand, we can hope, as you point out, that the new
metrics system will offer a greater carrot, if it lives up to
expectations and if it takes OA archiving properly into account. How
this system will work has been left to some extent deliberately unclear.

I feel that the position of OA repositories is not yet strong enough to
deliver our message adequately to legislators, which may be the reason
why the initiative in the EU Parliament failed. As very few repository
managers are full time, often engaged in other library or IT work,
professional representation remains weak. At a recent UKCoRR meeting,
only three members (where roughly half the total members were present)
were full-time, including myself.

In answer to the reply made by Prof. Charles Oppenheim, I reiterate my
case study of a member of staff here being unaware that the funding body
for his research required OA archiving, in which he would have failed
because he did not read the agreement and therefore risked losing
further grants. Clearly funding bodies can't penalise the vast number of
academics in his position at the outset without engaging in some
publicity and advocacy themselves in the beginning. They can usefully
give the impression that they will do so, however, as it may in any
event advance the cause of OA.

To summarise, we are all approaching the issue from much the same point
of view, but it is jumping the gun to think we can find a simple legal
solution out of the box without doing the necessary work in talking to
our audience first. Yes, something useful could have been done in
Brussels, possibly. However, not enough ground work has been done, so I
reiterate that the time is *not* in fact ripe as suggested. Most
repositories are embryonic, without proper policy or software
frameworks, some with almost no content on which to build. We need to
act in our own universities by going out and speaking to the academic
staff, not spend increasing amounts of time discussing the niceties of
the matter here, fiddling while Rome burns. If some of you wish to spend
your time lobbying parliaments instead, there is room for all kinds of
contributions. However, we cannot expect everybody to do so, without any
kind of professional representation.

In the meantime, for my own small part, I will go back to advocacy, and
handling the latest submissions in my repository, which on a collective
basis, between us all, will exponentially drive the growth of OA
repositories. As you say, Stevan, it is a matter of making sure that the
keystrokes are actually made.

Best wishes,

Received on Tue Nov 27 2007 - 19:18:47 GMT

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