Re: Comparing Physicists' Central and Institutional Self-archiving Practices at Southampton

From: Sally Morris (Morris Associates) <"Sally>
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2009 09:21:01 -0000

Did the researchers ask physicists why they did or didn't use one or
the other repository?  If they did not (and the abstract only talks
about correlation), then Stevan's explanation is pure speculation,




Sally Morris

Consultant, Morris Associates (Publishing Consultancy)

South House, The Street

Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK

Tel:  +44(0)1903 871286

Fax:  +44(0)8701 202806



From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: 05 January 2009 03:28
Subject: Comparing Physicists' Central and Institutional
Self-archiving Practices at Southampton


      Comparing Physicists' Central and Institutional
      Self-archiving Practices at Southampton

      SUMMARY: An Indiana University study (on
      the Institutional Repository of the University of
      Southampton) by Xia (2008) has tested the hypothesis that
      physicists who already habitually self-archive in an Open
      Access (OA) Central Repository (Arxiv) would be more
      likely to self-archive in their own institution's
      OA Institutional Repository (IR). The outcome of the
      study was that the hypothesis is incorrect: If anything,
      veteran Arxiv self-archivers are more resistant to IR
      deposit than ordinary nonarchivers, because they neither
      wish to change their longstanding locus of deposit, nor
      do they wish to double-deposit. 
         This outcome is quite natural and to be expected. The
      solution for this relatively small population of seasoned
      self-archivers is for their institution-external deposits
      to be automatically imported back into their IRs using
      the SWORD protocol (which can also be used to export
      automatically from IRs to central repositories). There is
      no need for veteran self-archivers to change their
      practices or to double-deposit. 
         It is not the 15% of authors who already self-archive
      (whether institution-externally or on their own
      institutional websites) that are the problem for OA: The
      problem is the 85% who do not yet self-archive. It is in
      order to set the keystrokes of those nonarchivers in
      motion at long last -- for their own benefit and that of
      their employing institutions as well as the tax-paying
      public that funds their research -- that Green OA
      self-archiving mandates are now being adopted by their
      institutions and funders. 
         When researchers have been polled (by Alma Swan &
      Sheridan Brown), the vast majority (95%), across all
      fields, have responded that they would comply with
      self-archiving mandates by their institutions and/or
      their funders (over 80% of them reporting that they would
      comply willingly). And actual outcome studies (by Arthur
      Sale) have confirmed that this is indeed what happens,
      with near-100% self-archiving rates reached within about
      two years once mandated -- but continuing to languish at
      the baseline 15% self-archiving rate (30% with incentives
      ad assistance) if left unmandated.


      Xia, J. (2008) A Comparison of Subject and Institutional
      Repositories in Self-archiving Practices. The Journal of
      Academic Librarianship 34 (6):489-495.

(1) The Xia (2008) study's finding is quite correct that many
more Southampton physicists self-archive centrally in Arxiv rather
than institutionally in Southamtpon University's Institutional
Repository (IR). If the same study had been conducted at any other
university, the outcome would almost certainly have been identical.
The reason is that physicists have been self-archiving centrally in
Arxiv since 1991, and today, quite understandably, they have no
desire either to switch to local IR self-archiving or to do

(2) This was already known at Southampton, and other institutions
know it about their own physicists.

(3) Consequently, it is not at clear why anyone would have expected
the opposite result, namely, that longstanding Arxiv self-archivers
would be quite happy to switch to local IR self-archiving, or to do

(4) In reality, the problem -- for both OA and for IRs -- is not the
physicists who are already self-archiving, regardless of where they
are self-archiving. If all researchers were doing what the physicists
have been doing since 1991 (and computer scientists have been doing
since even earlier), 100% OA would be long behind us, and IRs could
all be filled, if we wished, trivially, by simply importing back all
their own institution-external deposits, automatically, using
something like the SWORD protocol.

(5) The real problem is hence not the minority of spontaneous
self-archivers of long standing (globally, spontaneous self-archiving
overall hovers at about 15% overall); the problem is the vast
majority, which consists of nonarchivers: Of OA's target content --
the annual 2.5 million articles published in the planet's 25,000
peer-reviewed journals, across all disciplines and institutions --
85% is not yet being self-archived. It is for that reason
that self-archiving mandates have proved to be necessary.

(6) In choosing to analyze the data on Southampton -- which is indeed
a hotbed of OA, OA IRs, OA self-archiving, and OA self-archiving
mandates -- this study has unfortunately chosen to analyze the wrong
IR and the wrong mandate! It is Southampton's School of Electronics
and Computer Science (ECS) that has the planet's first and longest
standing self-archiving mandate (since 2002-2003), and it is the ECS
IR that has a full-text deposit rate near 100%. 

(7) The 2008 study analyzed the self-archiving rate for physicists,
in the university-wide IR. But the University as a whole only has a
university-wide mandate (and a rather vague one) since April 2008,
and even that has not yet been publicized or implemented yet. (The
university did have a longer standing requirement to enter
metadata in the IR for the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE),
mostly by library proxy deposit, which is why the study found so many
abstracts without full texts therein, for there was no requirement to
deposit the full text.)

(8) As a consequence, the study's findings -- although quite accurate
regarding the general resistance of veteran Arxiv self-archivers to
self-archiving alternatively or additionally in their own
institution's IR -- do not really have any bearing on mandates and
mandated IR behavior in general.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Jan 05 2009 - 11:10:13 GMT

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