Re: OA's Problem Is Not Funding But Keystrokes: Solution Is Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 15:02:42 +0000

On Mon, 18 Feb 2008, Klaus Graf wrote:

> Here are my mantras:
> * There is poor empirical proof that mandates work.

Poor compared to what? Compared to the exception-free evidence that
non-mandates (invitations, recommendations, requests, encouragements,
incentives) *don't* work?

Yes, 38 mandates, many of them quite recent, cannot constitute apodictic
proof. But they certainly constitute positive empirical evidence for the
only alternative that does work, and the evidence is strong for the four
mandates that have been in place long enough to draw any conclusions at
all (Southampton ECS, QUT, Minho, CERN):

Now, what is the counter-evidence, and the alternative?

> * In Germany institutional university mandates are nearly impossible
> because of legal reasons.

Klaus, I regret to say that I cannot believe that! I am certain that it
is not the ID/OA (Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access) Mandate that is
impossible in Germany, and certainly not for legal reasons, because it
was legal reasons that ID/OA was designed to moot:

The ID/OA mandate is to *deposit* -- not to make OA. There are no legal
strictures, for example, on Closed Access deposit. That's merely an
institution-internal book-keeping matter.

And I am absolutely certain that German Universities have other
administrative book-keeping mandates that entail at least as many
keystrokes as the few needed to deposit a postprint:

> * With a lot of money the Netherlands have brought important parts of
> the research output of a whole country in OA repositories ("Cream of
> science") - without a mandate!

See Arthur Sale's findings (above) on the success rate of incentives
with and without mandates. And please see my commentary on the
(admirable) Netherlands incentive as expressed to Richard Poynder:

(1) I do not disagree that the Netherlands has been more successful than
any other country in:
       (1a) establishing a national network of Institutional Repositories
(IRs) at all universities in the country,
       (1b) providing a system of incentives and assistance to encourage
author self-archiving (the Dutch Incentive), and
       (1c), as a result, generating one of the world's highest average
rates of deposit per IR (although not the highest: at the moment, that
distinction is held by Finland).

(2) But the average deposit rate per IR does not tell us :
       (2a) what fraction of those deposits is full-texts rather than just
       (2b) what fraction of those full-texts is OA's target content
(refereed journal articles) rather than other forms of content,
       (2c) what fraction of those full-text articles was published in a
given year (rather than being bulk retrospective deposits by a much
smaller number of researchers) and, most important:
       (2d) what percentage of the Netherlands' annual article output
(which Leo estimates at 55,000 articles per year currently) that
fraction of annual full-text articles comprises, and
       (2e) how long it will take to reach 100% at that current growth

> * For publication in Not-English languages outside the STM field there
> are very few informations if publishers allow self-archiving. For a
> German historian like me Elsevier is irrelevant (although maintaining
> the most journals worldwide). For ALL leading historical journals in
> the German language there is NO information available about
> self-archiving. I repeat: NO. I think decisions are made by the
> publishers on a case by case basis.

With the ID/OA mandate, if you have any doubt about a particular
postprint, simply deposit it as Closed Access instead of Open
Access (and let your Institutional Repository's semi-automatized
"email eprint request" button provide almost-immediate, almost-OA):

And then pursue the Incentives path to your heart's content. It's a
win/win situation if you both adopt IA/OA and provide incentives.
The empirical evidence is that incentives plus mandates succeed, whereas
incentives alone do not.

> * Self-archiving isn't technically easy. Most scholars in the
> humanities prefer scanned articles and have no time to scan.

(1) Self-archiving is for authors, providing access, not for readers,
seeking it.

(2) Self-archiving is first and foremost for current and future
articles, for which all authors these days produce digital drafts.
(Worry about scanning in the retroactive literature later: OA's immediate
target is today's and tomorrow's literature.)

(3) Self-archiving is only claimed to be not-easy by those who have not
actually done it. Those who have, know it is just a few minutes' worth
of keystrokes. See, again, the empirical evidence:

> * Very few repositories have an eprint mail button. We know nothing
> about the chance of interested citizen or scholars to get the
> permission of the author.

The two most widely used IR softwares are EPrints and DSpace. Both have
the button:

A clever graduate student could design the Button for OPUS in a few
days. (Does that sound like a big enough barrier to justify losing yet
another year of access to German research output?

(The button, by the way, does not request "permission" from the author:
It requests the postprint itself from the author!)

> OA needs a lot of experiments not a Harnadian orthodoxy of simple
> solutions.

Nothing Harnadian whatsoever. Just simple empirical data and a bit of
logical reasoning.

(And I will stop repeating mantras as soon as there is evidence that
they have actually been read and understood...)

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 Mon Feb 18 2008 - 16:10:48 GMT

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