Re: Convergent IR Deposit Mandates vs. Divergent CR Deposit Mandates

From: Alma Swan <a.swan_at_TALK21.COM>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 16:54:57 +0100

Can I reply to Jean-Claude and others from a slightly different perspective,
that of an institution now wanting to make its outputs OA?

I spent yesterday at a large London medical school to which I was invited to
talk with the people involved in research policy about establishing a
repository and making their research Open Access. The invitation included
the phrase: "because it is time we organised our research better and allowed
access to it". In our discussions yesterday we had to deal with the fact
that while over 90% of UK biomedical research is now covered by funder OA
mandates (good), many of those mandates stipulate UKPMC as the deposit locus
(not so good for the employers of the fundees - the universities). It's not
so good because although this medical school can harvest a considerable
amount of the material published by its employees from UKPMC, thus finding
an easy way to start filling its own repository, this does mean it has an
extra job to do. It's not a disaster, and CERN has been doing the same thing
with arXiv for years, but it's another task for the repository staff.

It also means that the medical school has to add a complication to a nice
simple wording for its own policy, explicitly allowing those who are already
under a funder mandate exemption from the medical school's policy of
requiring researchers to deposit their work in that repository. For sure, it
would be asking too much to demand that these people deposit BOTH in the
institutional repository and in UKPMC. And the funders got there first. (And
yes, researchers would balk at double - or more - depositing being required:
I hear this complaint already and we've barely started with institutional

True, we shouldn't get too wound up about this. Interoperability means that
back-harvesting, forward-harvesting and upside-down-harvesting can go on
wherever appropriate but it is a shame that we have arrived at a point where
universities, the mainstays of our societies' research endeavours, have to
develop more complex policies than would otherwise have been the case had
funders simply directed their grantees to deposit their work in their
institutional collections and harvested from there. The funders know where
their grantees are, the repository software has a metadata field for funder,
so the mechanics are simple. The benefit of such a move would have been to
help the universities see the overall plan (earlier than they have done),
ensure they put the right infrastructure in place and encouraged them to
apply polices to cover *all* the research their employees do. The whole
research community would thus be included and benefitting by this time, not
just the biomedical community or other communities covered by big funder
mandates. I would say that the research funders have rather let down their
partners, the universities, in this sense.

The other strand of discussion on this topic is always about where users
find the Open Access information they want. The argument goes that they want
to find it in subject-specific collections. Of course they do. It was never
expected that searching specific institutional repositories would be a
common practice - the whole point of OAI-PMH was to build what is
effectively a worldwide research database, free to use, and that services
would harvest and offer the packaged content of that worldwide database in
myriad ways. So subject-specific collections, which are lovely, should be
harvesting from the university repositories all the material that is
relevant to that subject. They can provide all manner of nice services on
that collection, tailored to the needs of that particular subject community.

I thought that RePEc was an example of how things should work. Contributors
of articles put them in their institutional collection and RePEc harvests
them - actually, harvests the metadata - and presents to the economics
research community a collection of free-to-access economic literature. I am
at a loss to understand, then, why Thomas keeps apparently arguing against
this model, since he himself has been instrumental in establishing it and
showing it to be a success, and why others consistently hold it up as an
example of good practice (which it is) while arguing the case for
centralised deposit (which RePEc doesn't have). Or have I got the wrong end
of the stick there?

Alma Swan
Key Perspectives Ltd
Truro, UK

P.S. The French, as always, will do things their own way.
Received on Fri Jul 25 2008 - 18:26:20 BST

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