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

From: Leslie Carr <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2008 00:59:59 +0100

On 25 Jul 2008, at 17:58, FrederickFriend wrote:

> Oh dear! I have avoided contributing to this discussion because it has
> saddened me to see so much disagreement about the various ways to
> achieve OA
> when we are all working so hard to achieve OA by any means possible

Most stakeholders in the scholarly communications field are of
necessity limited to a fraction of all human knowledge (or "the
literature" as we say in shorthand). Funders, projects, conferences,
researchers, and institutions have a specific domain, whether
thematic, geographical, organisational or a combination thereof. It is
hardly surprising that when they make decisions in favour of Open
Access, their actions are focused on gaining the best outcomes for
their domain which (at the Green end of the spectrum) seems to
inevitably end up as "lets make/adopt a repository for our fundees/
investigators/colleagues/employees". After all, the bodies in question
are usually unaware of the extent of the network of institutional
repositories and the committee mind wants to avoid relying on someone
else's (possibly non-existent) information system and (possibly
incompatible) information processes anyway.

Meanwhile, at the "Federal OA" level (e.g. this list) we have the
opportunity to observe all these different activities, and the way
that they overlap or compete with each other by multiple dealings with
the same people wearing different (fundee/investigator/colleague/
employee) hats. I think that this is an important role of this forum -
to critically assess and attempt to influence the Bigger Picture of
how multiple pathways to (green) OA fit together. However, the relief
in obtaining ANY increase in OA at all under ANY circumstances
sometimes obscures this aim.

As many have argued, we could settle for a laissez-faire approach,
because from an information management perspective we can be confident
that we will be able to sort everything out, post-hoc, with our clever
programs. I find that approach very appealing, because I'm a computer
scientist, and my immediate colleagues write those programs.

However, that leaves us with a pre-hoc mess, where individuals are
expected to contribute to two or three different repositories, and
where institutional librarians are increasingly becoming implicated in
the search for a solution. The responsibility for "picking up the tab"
is falling on the institutions because that's where these researchers
(and their piles of different hats) sit and work all day long. And the
focus of this responsibility is the institutional library - because
they have responsibility for the institutional repository and
expertise of repository processes and OA in general. (All this talk of
Repository and Responsibility sounds like a Jane Austen novel.)

Arising from these nitty-gritty practical considerations, comes
Stevan's question of optimality - how can we achieve OA behaviour from
the scholarly communications system with as little delay/work/
disruption as possible. It is our library colleagues and repository
managers who are trying to manage the implications of non-optimal
solutions, of divergent repositories, clashing mandates and ultra-
modest resourcing, and they need our help and leadership to make the
system work.

I do think that technology (specifically the SWORD protocol for
automated deposits) will come to our aid in this case, but not by
itself. First of all we have to get agreement from the CRs to adopt
SWORD for this purpose - the major IR platforms have already added
SWORD compatibility to their functionality. But this will be a not
insignificant step as it requires CRs and IRs to acknowledge the
"mixed economy" of repositories, and to carve out mutually supportive
Les Carr
Received on Mon Jul 28 2008 - 02:41:07 BST

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