RE: Central versus institutional self-archiving: 6 Mantras

From: Andy Powell <>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2008 09:11:57 -0000

Well, I hope that you are right... I certainly don't have the will or
ability to fight a political and technical agenda that has become so
entrenched worldwide and that says there is only one 'right' way of
achieving OA.

And just to be clear, I think we share the same aim - 100% OA to
research output - my concern lies only with whether we are getting there
most effectively. And, like you I guess, I'm frustrated by lack of

I think the *total* financial spend on the IR-based OA solution is
pertinent... though, as I said, I have no way of assessing how much is
being spent worldwide (by funding bodies, institutions and others) on

What if we took all that money, gave it to someone like Brewster Kahle
(assuming he was interested) and said, "here, we want to work with you
to build a single global repository for all scholarly research output

To suggest such a thing even 2 or 3 years ago would have been laughable.
But to suggest it now would be completely in line with what is happening
elsewhere on the Web. Well, I guess it might be laughable for other
reasons... but whether it is or not is largely irrelevant because we
appear to have so much political investment in the IR solution that I'm
not convinced we are willing to give serious consideration to any other

Head of Development, Eduserv Foundation
+44 (0)1225 474319 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Repositories discussion list 
> [mailto:JISC-REPOSITORIES_at_JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> Sent: 09 March 2008 13:09
> Subject: Re: Central versus institutional self-archiving: 6 Mantras
> On Sun, 9 Mar 2008, Andy Powell wrote:
> > You can repeat the IR mantra as many times as you like... 
> it doesn't 
> > make it true.
> I'd settle for a substantive reply to the substantive points, 
> empirical and logical (however repetitive they may be)...
> > Despite who knows how much funding being pumped into IRs 
> globally (can 
> > anyone begin to put a figure on this, even in the UK?),
> Plenty of figures have been posted on how much money 
> institutions have wasted on their (empty) IRs in the eight 
> years since IRs began. People needlessly waste a lot of money 
> on lots of needless things. The amount wasted is of no 
> interest in and of itself.
> The relevant figure is: How much does it actually cost to set 
> up an OA IR and to implement a self-archiving mandate to fill 
> it. For the answer, you do not have to go far: Just ask the 
> dozen universities that have so far done both: The very first 
> IR-plus-mandate was a departmental one (at Southampton ECS) 
> but the most relevant figures will come from university-wide 
> mandated IRs, and for that you should ask Tom Cochrane at QUT 
> and Eloy Rodrigues at Minho.
> And then, compare the cost of that (relative to each 
> university's annual research output) with what it would have 
> cost (someone: who?) to set up subject-based CRs (which? 
> where? how many?) for all of that same university annual 
> research output, in every subject) willy-nilly worldwide, and 
> to ensure (how?) that it was deposited in its respective CR.
> (Please do not reply with social-theoretic mantras but with 
> precisely what data you propose to base your comparative 
> estimate upon!)
> > most remain
> > largely unfilled and our only response is to say that 
> funding bodies 
> > and institutions need to force researchers to deposit when they 
> > clearly don't want to of their own free will.  We haven't (yet) 
> > succeeded in building services that researchers find 
> compelling to use.
> We haven't (yet) succeeded in persuading researchers to 
> publish of their own free will: So instead of waiting for 
> researchers to wait to find compelling reasons to publish, we 
> review and reward their research performance for publishing 
> ("publish or perish").
> We also haven't (yet) succeeded in persuading researchers to 
> publish research that is important and useful to research 
> progress: So instead of waiting for researchers to wait to 
> find compelling reasons to maximise their research impact, we 
> review and reward research performance on the basis not just 
> of the number of publications, but publication impact metrics.
> Mandating that researchers maximise the potential usage and 
> impact of their research by self-archiving it in their own 
> IR, and reviewing and rewarding their doing so, seems a quite 
> natural (though long
> overdue) extension of what universities are all doing already.
> > If we want to build compelling scholarly social networks (which is 
> > essentially what any 'repository' system should be) then we 
> might be 
> > better to start by thinking in terms of the social networks that 
> > currently exist in the research community - social networks 
> that are 
> > largely independent of the institution.
> Some of us have been thinking about these "social networks" 
> since the early 1990's and we have noted that -- apart from a 
> very few communities where they formed spontaneously early on 
> -- most disciplines have not followed the examples of these 
> few communities in the ensuing decade and a half, even after 
> repeatedly hearing the mantra (Mantra 1) urging them to do 
> so, along with the empirical evidence of its evidence 
> beneficial effects on research usage and impact (Mantra 2).
> Then the evidence from the homologous precedent and example 
> of (a) the institutional incentive system underlying 
> publish-or-perish as well as (b) research metric assessment, 
> was reinforced by Alma Swan's JISC surveys that found that 
> (c) the vast majority of researchers report that they would 
> not do it spontaneously of their own accord if their 
> institutions and/or funders did not require it (mainly 
> because they were busy with their institutions' and funders' 
> other priorities), 95% of them would self-archive their 
> research if their institutions and/or funders were to require 
> it -- and over 80% of them would do so *willingly* (Mantra 
> 3). And then Arthur Sale's empirical comparisons of what 
> researchers actually do when such requirements are and are 
> not implemented fully confirmed what the surveys said that 
> the research (across all disciplines and "social networks" 
> worldwide) had said they would and would not do (Mantra 4).
> So I'd say we should not waste another decade and a half 
> waiting for the fabled "social networks" to form 
> spontaneously so the research community can at last have the 
> OA that has already been demonstrated to be feasible and 
> beneficial to them.
> > Oddly, to do that we might do well to change our thinking about how 
> > best to surface scholarly content on the Web to be both 1) 
> > user-centric (acknowledging that individual researchers 
> want to take 
> > responsibility for how they surface their content, as 
> happens, say, in 
> > the blogsphere) and 2) globally-centric (acknowledging that the 
> > infrastructure is now available that allows us to realise the 
> > efficiency savings and social network effects of 
> large-scale globally 
> > concentrated services, as happens in, say, Slideshare, 
> Flickr and so on).
> It is odd indeed that all these wonders of technology, so 
> readily taken up spontaneously when people are playing 
> computer games or blabbing in the blogosphere have not been 
> systematically applied to their ergonomic practices, but the 
> fact is that they have not been, and we have waited more than 
> long enough. That systematic application is precisely what 
> the now-growing wave of OA self-archiving mandates by funders 
> (such as RCUK and NIH) and universities (such as Southampton 
> and Harvard) is meant to accelerate and ensure.
> > Such a change in thinking does not rule the institution out of the 
> > picture, since the institution remains a significant 
> stakeholder with 
> > significant interests... but it certainly does change the 
> emphasis and 
> > direction and it hopefully stops us putting institutional 
> needs higher 
> > up the agenda than the needs of the individual researcher.
> Individual researchers do not work in a vacuum. That is why 
> we have institutions and funders. Those "research networks" 
> already exist. As much as we may all admire the spontaneous, 
> anonymous way in which (for
> example) Wikipedia is growing, we also have to note the 
> repeatedly voiced laments of those academics who devote large 
> portions of their time to such web-based activities without 
> being rewarded for it by their institutions and funders 
> Mantra 5. OA self-archiving mandates are precisely the bridge 
> between the existing canonical "social networks" and reward 
> systems of the scholarly and scientific community -- their 
> universities and research funders -- and the new world that 
> is open before them.
> It is time we crossed that bridge, at long last (Mantra 6).
> Stevan Harnad
> Access-Forum.html
> 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
> OR
>      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 Mar 10 2008 - 09:12:25 GMT

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