Re: Explaining and Justifying a Mandate

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2008 11:54:09 -0400

Apologies for cross-posting, but this brilliant list from Andrew Adams
deserves wide circulation! Some references and suggested addenda

On Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 8:54 AM, Andrew A. Adams
<> wrote:

> 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.

Cite Arthur Sale's published studies on this, as well as Alma Swan's surveys:,_AHJ.html

> -- 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.

Cite Ulrich's for the total serial output, and the ARL holdings stats
for the fraction affordable to any university.

> -- 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.

Bravo! Spot-on!

> -- Because our research outputs are readable by all, they are more likely to be
> cited.

Cite the many studies in the Bibliography of Findings on the Open
Access Impact Advantage:

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

As above.

> -- 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.

Bravo! Spot-on!

> -- 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.

Bravo! (But allow the possibility of Closed Access as the default
option for the faint-hearted, rather than putting consensus on mandate
adoption at risk by making the mandate stronger than necessary.)

> - 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.

Bravo! Spot-on!

> 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.

Bravo! Spot-on!

> 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.

Bravo! Spot-on!

I suggest also adding something about the growing potential of
metrics, not only for REF, but for internal and external auditing
purposes. The IRs can generate IRstats with increasing rich, diverse
and revealing metrics (citations, downloads, co-citations, book
citations, citation/download growth decay metrics, endogamy/exogamy,
hubs/authorities, and mann many more).

Congratulations on an invaluable set of rationales for OA mandates.
Please add it to your IR as a FAQ for others!

Best wishes,


> Dr Andrew A Adams, School of Systems Engineering
> The University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AY, UK
> Tel:44-118-378-6997
Received on Sun Oct 12 2008 - 16:54:56 BST

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