Re: Don't Just Advocate Keystrokes: Advocate Keystroke Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 02:40:01 +0000

On Wed, 28 Nov 2007, Talat Chaudhri wrote:

> advocacy begins at home, which Arthur's post appeared to pour cold water
> on as a method

Actually, Arthur Sale was being completely data-driven: His home (Down
Under) is a different one from yours, and down there, the empirical
picture is that IRs alone are not enough, IRs plus advocacy helps
somewhat, but not nearly enough, and IRs plus advocacy plus (university
or departmental) mandates work.

> even in a short while I have already seen [advocacy] to be effective.

We are working on very different time-scales, Talat! I've been doing OA
self-archiving advocacy since 1994! Yes, the deposits are increasing,
but glacially slowly. To see that, you have to look at the actual data.

(A good idea can be derived from the charts and graphs in ROAR, but a
really accurate picture requires the kind of analysis CERN -- a mandated
IR! -- has done: a graph showing the percentage of yearly published
research article output that is being self-archived, year by year.)

ROAR shows that Aberystwyth's IR, CADAIR, up since mid-2006, has 311
records, most of them deposited in late 2006. A realistic picture of
the growth would be to plot your total 2006 and 2007 article output,
calculate the percentage of each year that is in CADAIR, and project
that growth curve to the year when CADAIR will be capturing all of its
annual research output...

> May I suggest that you lobby the remaining UK research council
> directly, citing the decisions of the others?

EPSRC has dug in its heels on OA, partnering with publishers to wait
(patiently) for the outcome of more "studies." More time spent on EPSRC
is time lost.

Besides, what the UK needs now is University mandates. We have a UUK
meeting of VC's in London next week on mandates and metrics. If the UK
universities go ahead and mandate self-archiving, the job is done. The
sole missing EPSRC mandate will become redundant!

The NIH mandate would be a big one, so that's worth continuing to work
for; and the revived FRPAA after it too. But the US is currently nowhere
with actually adopted mandates! (The Howard Hughes Mandate -- if it is a
mandate -- would be the only one!) So in the US too, the most important
thing for OA is university mandates, which are in the hands of Provosts,
not in the hands of the US government (though funder mandates would
certainly help too).

> My aim here is not to rely on voluntarism, but to build from it by
> trying to develop de facto mandates through conversations with
> departmental organisers and university management until proper mandates
> are in place. If I can convince them that OA is the way the wind is
> blowing, especially in terms of future funding, we will get results. We
> have conversations ongoing with two pro-VCs as well, so we are not
> inactive on that front either.

Bravo, Talat. That's where the advocacy will bring the biggest pay-off:
Not just working on trying to move researchers' fingers, one by one,
but on moving their research managers to mandate the keystrokes.

> Voluntarism was a useful seed, at least, and can remain so. It worked in
> fields such as physics.

Voluntarism *only* worked in physics, and only in part of physics
(that's why CERN had to mandate Green OA institutionally); and that's
been true for over a decade now. From where I sit, I can't take much
heart from the hope that what (some areas) of physics had the good sense
to do voluntarily 10 years ago will "catch on" in other fields!

(At this grotesquely late date, "catch on" would hardly be the word for
it if other fields suddenly started to do what those physicists
have been doing all along, and what archivangelists have been urging
them to do throughout that decade, with everything from OAI-compliant
IR software, to scientometric search engines, to evidence across fields
of the impact-enhancing effects of OA. Rather than "catch on," such a
remarkable turnaround would have to be called "spontaneous combustion"
-- or "catch up"...)

> I'm actually rather hopeful that OA is reaching a turning point, and
> that all this will pay off soon.

OA has been talking about "tipping points" for 3-4 years now. (Google
"open access" "tipping point" and you'll get over 50,000 hits.) I've
adopted a self-imposed moratorium on talking about tipping points. I'll
believe it when it's happened!

> Did you in fact ask the institutions surveyed precisely *why* their
> advocacy failed?

It was because not enough researchers listened to and acted on the
advocacy. But when a mandate was added to the advocacy, they listened,
and acted.

> Advocacy is itself in development in this field, as repositories
> themselves
> are. (Very few are as big as, for instance, that at Southampton.)

Southampton (ECS) has a self-archiving mandate -- the first of the
self-archiving mandates. That's why it's so big!

> the six out of seven major UK funding bodies introduced a
> voluntary code without governmental mandate.

They introduced a mandate without a governmental directive because
they hewed to the recommendation of the UK Select Committee to
mandate Green OA self-archiving (and the government didn't)!

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Thu Nov 29 2007 - 02:46:47 GMT

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