Re: subject classification

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 16:48:09 +0100

On Thu, 26 Jun 2008, Talat Chaudhri [tac] wrote:

> > > > SH: it is [not because of copyright that it is] harder for an
> > > > institution to manage, monitor, archive and harvest wildcat websites
> > > > than IRs. (That's *your* self-inflicted nightmare,
> > > > Talat...
> No, Stevan, not my "self-inflicted nightmare", it's my job to take a
> concern in the copyright liabilities that academics may inflict upon my
> institution. Fortunately for me it's my colleague's job, not mine, to
> make certain such content is not published in breach of the copyright
> holder's legal property rights in the material - it only becomes my
> affair when this strictly relates to our IR. You prefer [us] to stick
> your [our?] head[s] in the sand, it seems, but it is nobody's business
> except those who would have a legal liability, certainly not yours.

No, Talat, I prefer you to adopt an ID/OA mandate
requiring *all* (refereed journal) articles to be deposited
(keystrokes), no exceptions. But in case of any doubt at all on the
part of the author, your colleague, or yourself, to set the deposit
as "Closed Access" rather than "Open Access" (and let the IR's "email
eprint request" button take care of worldwide research usage needs with
almost-immediate, almost-OA till it's sorted out, or the embargo ends,
whichever comes first).

(But apparently you have nightmares about the Button too...)

> No sensible repository manager should accept Stevan's point here. These
> are real property rights and real liabilities, which we can't ignore
> simply because we think the owner doesn't stand a chance of enforcing
> their rights, which is an entirely unprofessional approach that will at
> some point backfire unpleasantly, even if it doesn't in 95% of cases.

That's not the point I am making. My point is about the
Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (IDOA) Mandate
not about ignoring anything that should not be ignored.

> > SH: Those are intuitions. The evidence is the opposite: Invitations with
> > encouragement fail, mandates and incentives succeed.
> You ignore my point, which was perhaps expressed too subtly: indeed I
> agreed that mandates succeed, but those that are brought about in
> consultation with academics, i.e. where they are represented in
> discussions to bring them about, are much easier to implement and
> enforce than those where management imposes them without discussion.

Very interesting point. Do you have any actual evidence on that?

Note that evidence from your institution and colleagues is not evidence
on the point you just made. Your point is that once adopted, a mandate is
easier to implement and enforce when academics have been consulted in
advance of the mandate. That is quite possible, but I know of no
evidence that it is the case. Have you looked at the 22 mandates that
have been adopted, and ascertained that those that were preceded by
consultation with academics proved easier to implement and enforce?

This is not a rhetorical question. (I am thinking in particular of the
University of Zurich mandate, which lay dormant for 2 years after formal
adoption and is only now beginning to be implemented; something
similar is true of U Southampton: the School of Electronics and Computer
Science mandate, the first in the world, was adopted in 2001 and
immediately implemented, but the university-wide mandate was adopted in
2007 and is only beginning to be implemented now!)

> I don't think that any of your quoted studies have analysed that much more
> subtle point, so my practical experience wins here.

You are right that the studies did not analyse this variable: But have
you? As far as I can tell, your practical experience bears only on
problems with getting a mandate adopted in the first place, not with
problems implementing a mandate that has been adopted without sufficient
consultation with academics...

> I would add
> inclusiveness to your list of successful methods, since it underpins any
> others and is arguably the greatest incentive.

I'm not sure what you mean by inclusiveness, but if it means
consultations with academics, by all means, along with creating an IR,
and with providing both information and incentives. But the crucial
point is that these are all necessary (or desirable) conditions, but not
*sufficient* conditions. The only sufficient condition for approaching
100% self-archiving within two years is the mandate itself. (But the
mandate must actually be implemented, not merely formally adopted and
then forgotten about for two years, as apparently happened in Zurich,
and to a certain extent also in Southampton... The Minho and QUT
mandates were adopted and implemented without much prior consultation
with Minho and QUT researchers, as far as I know, but they were
immediately implemented, and highly successful. The same is true of the
Southampton ECS mandate and CERN's. Harvard's mandate was based on
extensive prior consultation and consensus, but it is not IDOA but rather
rights-retention with opt-out, and it is too early to know how successful
it will be.)

> It is altogether too easy to dismiss hard-won practical experience as
> "intuitions", and indeed reckless.

Talat, I set great store by your practical experience, but I shall set
even greater store by it once it becomes the experience of one who has
actually succeeded in getting a mandate adopted at his institution. The
unsuccessful experience of those who have so far been unsuccessful in
getting a mandate adopted at their institution is somewhat less helpful
(though readily available).

> I entirely believe that most researchers do what they are told, per
> Arthur sale. I have however met a sizable minority of academics who do
> indeed oppose mandates, so I can only assume that their like was
> unrepresented in Alma's survey. I am not talking about one or two
> mavericks here but at least one or two in nearly every academic
> department. No "intuitions".

(1) Alma's figures were: 95% would comply, 14% grudgingly, 81%
willingly, 5% opposed (would not comply). (I think that that 5% covers
the 1-2 to be found in nearly every academic department.)

(2) Arthur's figures on actual compliance were: approaching full
compliance within 2 years of mandate adoption (and implementation!), as
compared to 30% self-archiving with incentives but not mandates, and 15%
baseline self-archiving with neither incentives nor mandates.

> Forgive me for having tried to agree with you yesterday! Given the
> responses I had, perhaps I should not have tried.

Ah, but it's a well-known saw that the sure way to get this
stubborn archivangelist to repudiate his own position is to agree with
him! (Alas, there is some truth to this, but only for statistical
reasons: to date, disagreement is far more prevalent than agreement.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jun 26 2008 - 17:07:38 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:49:22 GMT