Explaining and Justifying a Mandate

From: Andrew A. Adams <a.a.adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2008 13:54:57 +0100

After about four years (which pales besides the length of service to OA of
many on this list) of seriously pushing my University (University of Reading
in the UK) they're finally going ahead with instituting an IR. The main
driver for this seems to be the REF and the need to potentially track all the
output of our researchers. At this stage our PVC(Research) is still somewhat
unsure of the nature of the non-technical elements of an IR, i.e. about the
language of and necessity for a deposit mandate. I therefore need to make a
decisive pitch for a mandate. Ideally it needs to start with the "elevator
pitch" and then provide solid foundations for the claims in the elevator
pitch, and so I'm hoping the combined brain trust on this list can help me to
identify these precise details (facts, figures and published references)
which are the most accurate and compelling in putting the mandate case
forward. Here is the skeleton of my pitch.

An IR without a mandate is like serving soup with only a fork: you'll get
something, but it's not really worth the trouble.

The principle purpose of an IR is to provide access to our research output
for those who do not have a subscription to the physical and/or online
publisher production.

 - Consequence: basic meta-data plus full text are the primary goal.
Sophisticated meta-data is a secondary element and should NEVER be allowed to
delay deposit.

Because our research outputs are readable by all, they are more likely to be

 - Consequence: relative and absolute improvements in citation rates for high
quality work.

Finding the output is not the big problem - syntactic search through Google
Scholar, OAIster and others provide 95% of findability, but it's only useful
to find the article if you can then read the article not just the meta-data.

 - Consequence: scalable deposit requires one of the authors to deposit the
full text and basic meta-data. More sophisticated meta-data may be added by a
librarian or similar, but must not delay the availability of the item.

No academic or university has ever been sued for making their peer reviewed
journal output available in an IR.

 - Consequence: the default should be open access to the full text. In case
of doubt about a publisher's intent, open access should be set. Only where
embargoes are clear should they be set. In the case of an embargo, the
"Request an e-print" button provides a simple one-click email to the author
to request a copy. Doubts about a publisher's rules should never prevent
deposit, only access settings.

 - Consequence: Since author(s) as well as the university benefit and there
is no risk, direct availability, and the ability to edit one's deposits
should be granted to authors, with no editor to get in the way. Editing can
be done afterwards, once the basic meta-data and full text are available.

It is the text, data and diagrams that are important, not the layout.

 - Consequence: the author's submitted final draft is what needs depositing,
not a "publisher's PDF". PDF and HTML formats are preferred over proprietary
formats such as Word. Simple tools to produce PDFs should be made available
to staff or even embedded in the repository system.

Carrots are better than sticks in encouraging deposit.

 - Consequence: all university procedures which involve publications should
draw their information from the repository, particularly promotion and
incentive procedures.

Dr Andrew A Adams, School of Systems Engineering
The University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AY, UK
Tel:44-118-378-6997 E-mail:a.a.adams_at_rdg.ac.uk
Received on Sun Oct 12 2008 - 15:06:20 BST

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