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

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 17:02:05 -0400

Michael Eisen wrote:

> The NIH had lots of reasons for requiring deposition in a central
> repository. But one that I have not seen mentioned is that the NIH can
> ask things of its grantees, but no authority to require that
> institutions set up an archive of their own, and are particularly
> reluctant do anything that might be perceived as an unfunded mandate.

As Barbara Kirsop has noted, more and more universities have IRs
already. Moreover, an NIH mandate to deposit directly in an IR
would greatly encourage the creation of university IRs (although
there are also many other growing incentives to do so, as Arthur
Sale has pounted out).

Much harder than merely creating a university IR, however, is
achieving consensus on adopting an institutional self-archiving
mandate. If the NIH mandates IR deposit -- even if only as a preferred
option -- that would greatly help encourage and facilitate the successful
adoption and implementation of universal institutional mandates the world
over. As Alma Swan has pointed out, universities are the providers
of research in all fields; funder mandates converging on IR deposit
would help them adopt an OA mandate for all their research output.

For researchers at institutions that do to yet have an IR, there
are two simple options:

(1) There are provisional "holding IRs," like the UK's DEPOT
(and I hope soon another one for all European Universities, through
EUrOpenScholar) set up precisely for this purpose, to hold university
deposits from authors whose university does not yet have an IR,
with all the requisite metadata, ready for automatic transfer to
their IRs as soon as their university creates its IR. One or several
such holding depots could easily be setted up for the US too.

(2) PubMed Central itself could offer this holding function for US
universities, mandating direct deposit in the author's IR once there
is one, but offering PMC deposit as an interim locus from which it
could be automatically imported in the cases where the author's
university does not yet have an IR.

Both these options are compatible, and NIH could very easily add,
to its current four deposit options, the option of direct IR
deposit as the first and preferred means of fulfilling NIH's mandate.

(I have been trying to talk to anyone at NIH who will listen about
doing this since 2004. I even went to Bethesda to talk to Norka Ruiz
Bravo's group, but so far no one has paid any attention to my

> And why is everyone assuming that the existence of an institutional
> archive requires double deposits for authors who are also under a
> funder mandate to submit to a central repository? Why can't authors
> just simply submit to their institutional archive and then have the
> archive pass on the paper to PMC along with the minimal extra meta-
> data required (grant codes, etc...)?

That's just fine, and definitely feasible for an institution that
already has an institutional deposit mandate (though it is not
mentioned as one of NIH's 4 current options for deposit).

But only two dozen universities worldwide already have mandates. The rest
have only the 15% spontaneous unmandated depositing baseline, and no
mechanism or motivation for porting to other repositories.

The hope would be that the NIH mandate would facilitate the creation
of IRs as well as the adoption of IR mandates, worldwide, by making
its own mandate convergent rather than divergent.

> Or conversely why can't the
> institutions just harvest information about their authors from PMC?

Same answer (as noted also by Alma Swan): It is not an added incentive
to adopt a mandate for institutions that do not have one, to learn
that they could complicate their deposit procedure by doing
back-harvesting from PMC: To help the growth of institutional OA
mandates and the growth of OA beyond NIH-funded research, NIH should
mandate IR deposit, at least preferentially (if not exclusively).

> Alma seems to suggest there's something difficult about this, but if
> institutional archives are the interoperable utopia Stevan and others
> tout, this should be trivial. What am I missing here?

You are right about the interoperability and the possibility of
automating harvesting in either direction. But you are very
wrong about the status quo: What is needed from NIH is what
will encourage and facilitate the creation of IRs and the
adoption of institutional IR mandates -- not just an automatic
fix for an extra problem that the NIH central deposit requirement
creates for the very few universities that have already adopted
self-archiving mandates.

Let me close by adding one further reason for both funder and
institutional mandates to converge on IR mandates: The embargo
period and the "email eprint request" button.

This only works if it is the authors themselves who authorize
each request, but what the IR's button makes possible is to
provide "almost OA" for any articles that have been deposited as
Closed Access instead of Open Access during a publisher embargo
period: Only the metadata are visible, users press copy/paste their
email in a box to request a copy for research purposes, press the
button, an automatic email eprint request instantly goes to the
author, containing a URL that the author need merely click to
automatically email a single copy to the requester.

This means a lot of research usage for embargoed papers that would
otherwise be sitting inaccessibly in the PMC buffer waiting for

(Yes, PMC could implement the Button too, but then isn't it
simpler just to add IR deposit as NIH's first and preferred
deposit option?)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Jul 25 2008 - 22:32:02 BST

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