Erasmus University Rector Proposes Green OA Deposit Mandate

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 17 Jan 2010 12:57:17 -0500

** Cross-Posted **

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Professor Henk Schmidt, Rector of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, in an
interview about Open Access conducted by Leo
Waaijers, has announced that he proposes to adopt a Green Open Access
self-archiving mandate for Erasmus University's Institutional
Repository, RePub:

        HS: "I intend obliging our researchers to circulate their articles
publicly, for example no more than six months after publication... if
possible in collaboration with publishers via the 'Golden Road' and
otherwise without the publishers via the 'Green Road'... [We] can’t
just oblige researchers to publish in Open Access journals. It has not
yet been established that there are enough prestigious Open Access
journals, but – until there are – prescribing the 'Green Road' seems
to me an excellent idea... even though it’s a bit of a problem that
this will lead to two versions of the article being circulated."

This is excellent news, but let me dispel the misapprehension that it
will entail even a "bit of a problem":

Professor Schmidt states, quite rightly, that since most journals are
not Gold OA (and especially few of the top journals are Gold OA),
universities (and funders) cannot achieve OA by obliging their authors
to publish in Gold OA journals.

However, as Professor Schmidt notes, universities (and funders) can
require (mandate) that their authors make their articles Green OA by
depositing them in their institutional OA repositories (of which every
Dutch university now has one) immediately upon publication -- allowing
an embargo on setting access to the deposit for a maximal permissible
interval (say, 6 months) for those journals that do not yet already
endorse immediate OA. (63% of journals already do endorse immediate
OA, and that includes virtually all the top journals. And 79
institutions, 18 departments and 42 research funders worldwide already
mandate Green OA).

All of this is extremely welcome, and spot-on. I would add only that
the difference between the author's peer-reviewed, revised, and
accepted final draft (the postprint) and the publisher's version-of-
record (PDF) is negligible for active researchers (especially those
for whom OA is really intended, namely, the many would-be users whose
institutions cannot afford subscription access to the journal in which
an article happens to be published); moreover, most researchers are
already quite accustomed to receiving and using prepublication hard
copies (and, lately, email versions) of final drafts rather than
waiting for the journal to appear.

Professor Schmidt adds:

        HS: "It may well take a year before your article appears in a
journal. But I do expect the time pressure to increase. In that case,
circulating your work by uploading it to a repository could speed
things up."

As noted, OA is not merely for the sake of earlier access during the
publication lag (most journals now offer access to the online version
immediately, and even to the author's final draft -- but to
subscribers only). The primary motivation for OA is the need for
access to journals to which the would-be user's institution cannot
afford to subscribe.

        HS: "I don’t... upload [my articles to] the university’s
repository... I had never even consulted the repository. I did try it
once a few weeks ago and realised that none of my publications are in
there. It was just too awkward, and I’ll now probably wait quite a
long time before I try it again. I’m just too busy for this kind of
experimentation. It really does need to be made a lot simpler... it
would make a difference if it were... easy to deposit your PDF...
Either that or somebody has to do it for you. [Our researchers] are of
course used to registering the metadata in Metis. But it would make a
difference if it were then easy to deposit your PDF..."

This passage is a bit ambiguous as to whether Professor Schmidt is
referring here to (1) consulting the repository, in search of an
article, as a user, or to (2) depositing one's own articles in the
repository, as an author.

(1) Consultation: Institutional repositories (IRs) can be consulted
directly (for institution-internal record-keeping, monitoring or
showcasing purposes) but that is certainly not the primary purpose of
either IRs or OA. The way most OA IR deposits are consulted by
potential users is not by going to each individual IR to search! The
IRs are OAI-compliant, hence interoperable, and hence they are
harvested by central search services (such as OAIster, Base, Scirus,
Scopus, PubMed, Citeseer, Celestial, and even Google Scholar) so they
become jointly searchable by users as if they were all in one and the
same global repository.

(2) Deposit: To find out how quick and easy deposit really is, one
must actually have deposited an article in an IR. It is certainly as
simple as depositing the metadata in Metis -- moreover, software can
easily import/export directly from one to the other (Metis to IR or IR
to Metis), automatically. So the (few) keystrokes only ever need to be
done once.

Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) "Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time
and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving."

(It's fine to have the keystrokes done by proxy -- by an assistant, a
student, a librarian -- if an institution wishes, but it is not clear
that there is even the need to do so: Do researchers need proxies to
deposit in Metis? It's virtually the same thing.)

Nor is the publisher's PDF needed. The author's final draft is what
needs to be deposited, and the author has that at his fingertips as
soon as a final draft is accepted for publication (i.e., when no more
revisions are required).

Metadata are metadata, and the same metadata are needed for OA IR
deposit as for Metis (author, title, date, journal, etc.)
registration. The publisher's PDF is both unnecessary and undesirable
(because it has more access restrictions than the author's refereed.
accepted final draft.)

Moreover, the most successful university deposit mandates (such as the
mandate at University of Liège) have combined the functions of the OA
IR and (their equivalent of) Metis: The form that the deposit mandate
takes is that it is in the IR that the researcher must deposit for
performance review!

Here is how the Rector of U Liege, Professor Bernard Rentier, worded
the Liège mandate:

-- deposit in ORBi will be mandatory as soon as the article is
accepted by the journal

-- starting October 1st, 2009, only those references introduced in
ORBi will be taken into consideration as the official list of
publications accompanying any curriculum vitae for all evaluation
procedures 'in house' (designations, promotions, grant applications,

-- Wherever publisher agreement conditions are fulfilled, the author
will authorize setting access to the deposit as open access

-- For closed access deposits, the institutional repository will have
an EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST BUTTON which allows the author to fulfill
individual eprint requests.

In response to the question "If uploading material to a repository
were actually made a lot simpler, would they all do it, or would
something else have to happen?" Professor Schmidt replied:

        HS: "I think it will be necessary to impose an obligation so as to
get them used to it. But if it were really simple and it took only a
single action to upload the publication to the repository and register
it in Metis for the annual report, then they’d come on board."

This reply is spot-on, on all counts: Researchers will not deposit
unless it is mandated, but if it is mandated, they will indeed deposit
(95%), and the vast majority will do so willingly (81%).

What Professor Schmidt may not have realized is that deposit is
already easy, just a few minutes worth of keystrokes, and virtually
identical to the keystrokes for registering in Metis. So all that
needs to be done is to mandate deposit in the Erasmus IR, as the
prerequisite for performance evaluation, and automatically export the
metadata from the IR to Metis!

All universities considering the adoption of a Green Open Access
mandate are urges to join EOS (Enabling Open Scholarship). The
chairman of the EOS Board is Professor Bernard Rentier (Rector of the
University of Liège), and the Coordinator is Dr. Alma Swan (of
Southampton and Key Perspectives Inc). These are the two most far-
sighted and dynamic leaders in the international OA mandate movement,
and with their help university IRs and mandates will be the most
effective they can be:

-- EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) is an organisation for universities
and research institutions worldwide. The organisation is both an
information service and a forum for raising and discussing issues
around the mission of modern universities and research institutions,
particularly with regard to the creation, dissemination and
preservation of research findings

-- The aim of EOS is to further the opening up of scholarship and
research that we are now seeing through the growing open access, open
education, open science and open innovation movements.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Sun Jan 17 2010 - 17:57:33 GMT

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