Re: It's Keystrokes All the Way Down

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 13:06:56 +0100

On Thu, 26 Jun 2008, Tom Franklin wrote:

> Franklin Consulting
> Its not about key strokes, its about benefits to the depositor.

That all depends on what "about" is about: Aristotelian ultimate causes,
or effective proximal causes.

Yes, the motive for OA is benefits to the depositor (enhanced research
impact, performance evaluation, career progress, grants).

But it has already been demonstrated, through several years of
experience, that neither those benefits, nor even knowledge of those
benefits, is sufficient to get those keys stroked!

Benefits are the necessary ultimate condition, but the sufficient
immediate condition is an Institutional Repository and an Institutional
("Keystroke") Mandate to do the deposit.

> It seems to me that the real problem is that there are no perceived
> benefits
> for the end user, and until there are people will not be terribly
> interested
> in depositing.

Can I urge you again to read the actual published author
surveys by Key Perspectives (and others) to see what authors'
actual perceptions are. (They have been repeatedly cited in this
discussion, but the participants alas still seem to be more
persuaded by their own a-priori intuitions than by the actual evidence, or
even the inclination to consult it): )

The surveys show that, yes, information on the benefits is beneficial,
and should be provided, but that many authors already know the benefits
*yet still do not deposit*, and indeed *state* that they will not deposit,
until and unless it is mandated by their employers or funders. This is the
clear message that the participants in this discussion do not seem to
be hearing -- apparently because they are persuaded instead by their own
a-priori intuitions on mandates too.

Yet also repeatedly posted here is the objective evidence that keystroke
mandates *are* adoptable, and, where adopted, they approach 100%
compliance within two years:,_AHJ.html

Here too (for some reason I cannot fathom), discussants seem to prefer
to keep trading intuitions and anecdotes on why keystroke mandates
are impossible to adopt -- or would not be complied with if adopted --
rather than considering the actual evidence.

> How many people are (or at least know that they are)
> searching institutional repositories?

Anyone searching Google and Google Scholar is searching IRs, and
whenever they get an IR hit, if they look at where it is, they will see
that they are search institutional repositories.

For example, do the google search [berners-lee "semantic web
revisited"] -- and note also the accompanying impact statistics,
a good a-posteriori incentive, once the author has already done the
keystrokes (though Southampton author Tim Berners-Lee hardly needs the
extra impact!).

> Thinking process goes something like
> this - there is nothing in these IRs, so no one is searching them, and as
> no
> one is searching them there no point in depositing.

Actually, that thinking process is partly correct (though it is definitely
*not* the reason the keys are not getting stroked): The IRs are all indeed
mostly near-empty (only about 15% full)

-- with the prominent exception of the 22 mandated ones. But people still
keep using google, so they still keep searching IRs (despite their meager
contents to date).

And as I keep pointing out, the reason authors don't deposit has already
been identified, on authors' own testimony: "We are busy, overloaded, and
we have 34 a-priori worries about self-archiving, so we will not do it
until and unless our employers and funders mandate it -- but if they do,
most of us (95%) will not only do it, but do it *willingly* (81%)."
[Not a quote, but a virtual compendium of the gist of the responses
and their statistics.]

If that is not a clear mandate to mandate -- rather than to keep
speculating about one's own a-priori intuitions about why authors are
in the state of Zeno's Paralysis that you have correctly described --
I don't know what is!

    Harnad, S. (2006) Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's Paralysis. In:
    Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, Chandos.

> My friends / colleagues
> who are most likely to cite the paper will either see it in the journal,
> or
> I will send them a copy by email.

And if your friends/colleagues can't afford access to the journal, and
telepathy does not inform you that they can't, and want it -- or would
want it if they knew it existed -- what then? For that is precisely
the basis of the OA usage/citation impact advantage, the author benefit
underlying OA:

And even the almost-OA that is possible by emailing eprints is vastly
facilitated by doing the keystrokes to first deposit the eprint in the

> In fact, if I want to get my paper cited my best bet is to email it to
> colleagues who might be interested as that way they are more likely to
> read
> it; and that is a better use of my time than putting it in the repository.

By all means email the eprint to anyone you know, a-priori, who might
be interested (though beware of getting too zealous about unsolicited
eprints less they start getting perceived as spam!).

But the OA impact advantage comes from all those potential users webwide
that you do *not* know about a-priori. And the ones who would not know
about your paper if you did not do the keystrokes to deposit it, so
their search engines can find it (and they can either click to see it,
if it is Open Access, or click to send an automatic email eprint request,
via almost-OA, if it is Closed Access or embargoed access)...

> Self-deposit will only work if there is something tangible in it for the
> depositor - this could be fulfilling a funding body or institutional
> mandate

The tangible thing for the depositor is the enhanced impact. Fulfilling
a mandate is not in itself a benefit, but the adoption of mandates by
institutions and funders is motivated by benefits to the user, the
institution, the research community, R&D, students, and the tax-paying
public that funds the research.

> or it could be that there are services that mean that people really are
> using IR to locate stuff.

The services and the usages are already there, but the content is low,
and we are talking about the only way to increase that content that
actually works. The rest is all speculation, has already been tried, and
has failed.

The evidence that even at this sad 15% level, what OA content there is
is indeed being used and cited more, also exists (but, without mandates,
that is not enough to elicit the keystrokes for the missing 85%):

(If evidence of usage of 100% of the content were the necessary
precondition for successfully eliciting 100% of the content, then that
would be a perfect self-contradictory circle!)

> However, I suspect that IR will only really come
> in to their own when we change the publishing model, and authors deposit
> in
> the IR and it is peer reviewed from there

This sounds like the "overlay journal" conjecture, the old chestnut that
has been around since the early '90s, and was based on an incoherent
inference from the fact that physicists were already key-stroking
spontaneously (and not key-stroking because they already had or yearned
for "overlay journals"!).

    Stevan Harnad, Research Journals Are Already Just Quality Controllers
    and Certifiers: So What Are "Overlay Journals"? Open Access
    Archivangelism, November 23, 2006.

Or, at today's and tomorrow's ELPUB 2008 meeting in Toronto:

Yes, "publishing reform" (and even "Waiting for Gold OA") are among the
many causes of Zeno's Paralysis (for which mandates are the cure)
but the way to cure phantom limb pain is not to recommend massaging
the phantom limb...

> (perhaps with the reviews being published in the IR along with the
> deposited item).

This would be pre-emptive reform of peer review, before even testing
whether it would work, and generate articles of at least the quality
level we have now: Referee anonymity, and the functional differences
between informal prepublication commentary, formal prepublication
peer review and postpublication peer commentary are all empirical
matters, yet to be sorted out and tested. They have nothing to do with
the need for keystrokes in order to provide OA today.

Here (in the serene confidence that no one will trouble to do the
keystrokes even to glance to at them), are some potential time- and
bandwidth- and breath-savers:

    Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication
    Continuum of Scientific Inquiry Psychological Science 1: 342 -
    343 (reprinted in Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991).

    Harnad, S. (1996) Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific
    Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals. In:
    Peek, R. & Newby, G. (Eds.) Scholarly Publishing:
    The Electronic Frontier. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Pp

    Harnad, S. (1997) Learned Inquiry and the Net: The Role of
    Peer Review, Peer Commentary and Copyright. Learned Publishing
    11(4) 283-292. Short version appeared in 1997 in Antiquity 71:
    1042-1048. Excerpts also appeared in the University of Toronto
    Bulletin: 51(6) P. 12.

    Harnad, S. (1998/2000/2004) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature
    [online] (5 Nov. 1998), Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and in
    Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry. Rowland &
    Littlefield. Pp. 235-242.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jun 26 2008 - 13:36:12 BST

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