It's Keystrokes All the Way Down

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 02:09:05 +0100

On Thu, 26 Jun 2008, Ingrid Mason wrote:

> Thank you John for raising the issue of culture change and deposit rates
> in institutional repositories.

The cultural change in question is doing the keystrokes to deposit all
one's articles, as a matter of course.

> My view: the answer at some point and in part the requirement for extra
> keystrokes might act as an inhibitor to the deposit of content in
> institutional repositories by academics.

The point is not just that extra keystrokes (to add taxonomy tags) are
an inhibitor: *doing any keystrokes at all* is an inhibitor (until we
are digits are roused from their lethargy by mandates (and the lure of
metrics that are their reward).

> In my brief experience (one and a half years) it is by no means THE
> obstacle - presently. Perhaps I'm suffering unnecessarily... but I
> don't think so.. ;-)

Ok: Let's see what else stands in our way but keystrokes:

> What are the obstacles: change in working practice

Must of us have not adopted the practice of depositing all our articles;
those (like physicists) who have, have.

> (information and computer literacy levels,

We all know how to do keystrokes, and I won't believe someone's
insistence there's more to it than that until they have first gone to
demoprints and done a deposit, to see exactly what it entails:

    Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time
    and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving. Technical Report UNSPECIFIED,
    ECS, University of Southampton.

> publishing traditions);

Nothing to do with publishing traditions. Those do not change a whit.
They are simply supplemented by... keystrokes.

> levels of awareness of (you name it: copyright, publisher agreements,

Both irrelevant. Do the deposit. Copyright and agreements have nothing
to do with whether you can do the keystrokes or not. If in any doubt,
simply set access as "Closed Access" instead of "Open Access" till
you've made up your mind. (Meanwhile, the IR's semi-automatic "Fair Use"
Button will take care of usage needs by forwarding you all eprint
requests for approval (a few more keystrokes:

> peer attitudes);

Irrelevant. They have no say in whether or not you stroke those keys...

> time available to academics and library or technical staff (little or
> none);

This is a genuine factor -- but it is the quintessence of keystrokes,
because we are talking about the time available to do the < 10 minutes
worth of keystrokes per annual paper. (Mandates and performance
evaluation metrics are good for sorting out one's priorities...)

> etc. Metadata versus fulltext

What's this? There are the keystrokes for entering the minimal
obligatory IR metadata, plus the additional keystroke to upload the
full-text (and set access as either OA or Closed...)

No either/or or versus...

> and information retrieval accuracy, etc,

I'm lost. We were talking about keystrokes to deposit. Where did we get
into info retrieval accuracy, and who is worried about what?

> is one variable in the mix - albeit an important one but I don't think
> it is the deal breaker.

So far I've just heard about keystroke ergonomics and chronometrics
and nothing else.

> I am inclined to think that just because people might have the advantage
> of 'knowing what is good for them', i.e. depositing their works in open
> access repositories, this does not mean they will act.

Correct. The problem is getting them to stroke those keys. We know what
will do it, because it's been tried, repeatedly, and been shown to work:
Keystroke mandates, by employers and funders. Researchers have already
indicated they will comply (95%) and willingly (81%). And they do
(Arthur Sale's data.). And the enhanced impact metrics sweeten the deal.

But I know all about keystroke paralysis, so I know that without
mandates, the digits will not go into motion.

> Hey, I still eat
> fish and chips even though I'm told that having a salad is likely better
> for me.. old habits die hard.

Well, we're past the age of parental eating mandates, but there's still
hope for our research impact, if not for our arteries...

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jun 26 2008 - 02:11:31 BST

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