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

From: (wrong string) édon Jean-Claude <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 13:22:12 -0400

Thank you, Alma. Allow me to respond below.

But before I do this, let me make an initial remark. All this started because of the APA stupid (and temporary) decision and Stevan Harnad's reaction to it, choosing to hit at NIH rather than at APA. I think his reaction troubled many of us greatly. Between what might be (and I am not even convinced) a minor tweak in policy implementation and a full accusation that it is NIH's fault, and not APA's, there was a huge gap that several of us have responded to. With characteristic tenacity (I am being polite), Harnad tried not to yield a micro-inch. I will not say more about this. But the energy expended on such small matters would best be spent on more positive actions, if only to accelerate matters, as Harnad claims to desire.

Now on with your own remarks.

-----Original Message-----
American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of Alma Swan
Sent: Fri 7/25/2008 11:54 AM

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.

I can readily see that bringing back the local output from a central depository creates a bit of work for a library, but given that in many institutions, self-archiving is a myth, and archiving is done by librarians anyway, I would like to know which is the most demanding route: checking with every member of the faculty if they have self-archived (or archive for them) or simply write a suitable script that would harvest things back to the library? And is the differentce so great as to warrant the intense discussions of the last few days? I ask for a bit of sensible common sense here.

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

Again, is there something here that a simple script would not solve. Each author could simply register whatever exemptions works for her, and bingo...

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.

Yes, yes, yes and again yes, but the world is not ideal and history is not rational (pace Hegel and Marx). It would have been nice; it did not happen. So, let us move on and deal with the real situation rather than regret what might have been, and then, as Harnad does, berate the funders because they did not end up behaving as they might have done in somebody's ideal vision of the ideal world.

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.

The whole point of OAI-PMH, beyond what you say, Alama (and what you say is right), is that the world-wide database could be built from a variety of perspectives. This is what is happening in a distributed world.

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?

Yes, perhaps things should work this way, but they do not in reality. How long are we going to hit our heads agains walls, acting as if thy were not there... Better go on with what we have and build together from there.

Let me repeat my (borrowed) mantra: rough consensus and working code. That is how the Internet beat X.25 and all the telcos of the world.

Jean-Claude Guédon

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 - 22:31:44 BST

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