Re: Guide for the Perplexed (about how to inspire institutions to adopt Green OA self-archiving mandates)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 09:48:59 -0400

Jenny Desalle (U Warwick Library) wrote in JISC-Repositories:

> I am with Hugh [Glaser] on this matter. Compliance is crucial to the
> successful introduction of any mandate.

Jenny, your posting is based on a rather widespread misunderstanding
(which can only be corrected from experience with actual mandate

No, it is not mandate compliance that is crucial, it is mandate

U Warwick has no mandate. Hence you have no way of knowing this. The
best strategy then is to heed the evidence of actual experience:

Adopt a mandate, and don't worry about "policing". Researchers will
comply, many soon, some gradually. Without a mandate, they never will.
(And the worldwide growth of mandate adoption -- without "policing"
-- will steadily strengthen compliance too!)

> I am not a fan of the mandate because I do not want to become the
> "police" for a mandate. I want to be an enabler and not an enforcer.

No one asks anyone to be an "enforcer. And if you want to be an
enabler, enable the adoption of a mandate at Warwick!

(It does not help anyone or anything, Jenny, if one simply assumes
that one's untested, a-priori preconceptions and misconceptions are
all true, and one acts (or rather doesn't-act) accordingly: The
evidence and advice are coming here from those who do have actual
experience with mandates, and the a-priori worries are coming from
those who do not. -- And please read carefully when you read what Hugh
says. He has said he is supportive of mandates, but against
"policing." Fine. but we do no policing at Southampton! Hence the
policing that Hugh is worrying about is a general bete-noir of his,
entirely unconnected with the deposit mandate at Southampton or any
other university. If you are uncertain about this, please ask Hugh
directly. Hugh would like everything at the university to be done by
consensus; so would I. But alas things don't happen that way -- and
that too has nothing in particular to do with OA, IRs, or mandates, so
I'm not sure why that private, personal desideratum has been made a
public discussion theme in this Forum.)

> I take this attitude because I have never been just a repository
> manager (and since 1 March this year I am no longer the repository
> manager at Warwick): I am a librarian and I work in the context of a
> library that has worked very hard over many years to build up
> understanding and goodwill amongst the academic community whom we
> serve.

Being a "repository manager" is a new function, and without a mandate,
it is mostly a ceremonial function, being the custodian of an empty
repository. But on no account does it mean being a policeman. It has
not been such, for yourself, at Warwick, without a mandate; and it
would continue not to be, if Warwick adopted a mandate. It would just
mean that there would be some OA contents to manage...

> Researchers would rather have one more journal subscription than one
> more librarian (regardless of whatever work that librarian is
> doing!) and in the current economic climate we are reminded of this
> more and more often.

None of us are doing well in this economic climate. An OA deposit
mandate is one of those very rare things we can do in order to get a
lot of benefit and no cost.

Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton
Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1). pp. 55-59.

(One day it may even make it possible to cancel more journals and
higher more librarians. But for that you first have to understand it,
and do what needs to be done to generate OA.)

> Getting a mandate might well be possible, but do I want to direct my
> efforts towards getting one? Not really.

That's quite evident, and quite regrettable, Jenny. Your attitude
seems to be based, in equal parts, on untested preconceptions and, I
regret to have to say, short-sightedness. You are not alone. The
library community has been a great help in promoting OA, but it is
very far from having been as great a help as it might have been, and
the reason is precisely untested and uncorrected misconceptions like
the ones you adduce here.

> Even if we achieve one, we will spend as much time chasing up those
> reluctant to deposit with a stick as we might otherwise have spent
> encouraging them with a carrot (as Hugh recognises).

Hugh said nothing about chasing, and if he had, it would have been

Apart from some form emails to inform and remind (not originating from
librarians), the Southampton ECS mandate has been complied with as a
natural matter of course, motivated by the obvious benefits. The
benefits are the incentive; they are sufficient with a mandate, but
insufficient without one.

Where the chasing occurs is in the unmandated repositories, where
librarians and repository managers have to beg researcher after
researcher to deposit...

> And librarians really do not need to become the repository mandate
> police, nor to be watching our back in case of the appointment of a
> new VC or Pro-VC who is repository mandate unfriendly, so that we
> would have to win the argument all over again.

Unfortunately, Jenny, just repeating untested hypotheses does not make
them any more valid. The reality is quite different from what you
describe, hypothetically.

> Even if we had a working mandate at Warwick, with no need for a
> stick we would be so overwhelmed with records on the repository that
> we would need a whole different model than the one we currently
> have, because we could never perform copyright checks or create
> professional metadata records for that amount of content.

Unfortunately, this is yet another strikingly uninformed
preconception. Southampton does not do "copyright checks," and no one
needs to create "professional metadata records".

> I know that there are arguments against this particular model of a
> repository as well as our reasons for this model, but that is the
> model we have so there would need to be a lot more groundwork done
> to support a mandate.

Warwick's repository, like all unmandated repositories, is next to
empty. With 2767 records, it is about one third of the way down in
the ROAR list of about 1000 institutional repositories. Although
ROAR's ranking is noisy and very approximate -- since it does not
distinguish full-text deposits from metadata-only deposits, nor does
it distinguish different kinds of contents, so the very top
repositories are spurious counts, especially Cambridge, containing all
kinds of stuff other than OA full texts!) one does get an idea of the
scale of a successful IR when one reaches QUT (#40), with 35,961
records. QUT adopted the first university-wide deposit mandate, in
2004, and we can be confident that most of its deposits are full-text
deposits of OA's target content.

If there is a "model" underlying Warwick's deposit rate, it does not
seem to be a model that is succeeding, hence not one to be recommended
to others!

> Of course, I recognise that this particular context is my own. There
> are many different models of repositories out there, and not all are
> managed by librarians: there are many different attitudes amongst
> pracitioners. We are all learning from each other and watching each
> others' progress. UKCoRR-Discussion is the place to go for a
> practical discussion of advocacy tactics, rather than consideration
> of the virtues or otherwise of a mandate.

The only tactic that works, and has been shown to work, is mandates.
And there are no "models" -- just untested preconceptions, and near-
empty repositories.

> I appreciate that many are impatient to achieve open access to
> research articles and that a mandate has been shown to achieve large
> levels of open access content availability in research studies. A
> mandate might be the most effective way to make large quantities of
> content available on open access but it is not the only way, nor
> indeed necessarily the best for every repository at every
> institution. Open Access availability is not the only goal for every
> single repository.

I am speaking exclusively of Open Access to peer-reviewed research,
OA's target content. For that goal, none of the points you have made
are even pertinent. (The logic of the foregoing paragraph in fact
escapes me completely...)

> Meanwhile, Warwick's repository is growing very healthily even
> without a mandate. There are over 2000 open access, full text
> articles in WRAP today, and we are gathering more repository fans
> all the time.

I would be very interested to hear what you think is a healthy growth
rate: The spontaneous (unmandated) deposit rate worldwide is 15%
annually. Do you consider that a healthy growth rate? Do you think a
total of 2000 OA papers (except if they are all 2009 papers) is a
goodly percentage of Warwick's annual peer-reviewed journal article

Sorry for the curmudgeonliness of this response, but it's getting
quite late in the day for this all too familiar sort of view to be
posted with so little sign of having taken into account the experience
of others. These matters have been intensively tested and discussed
for over a decade now. I hope, now that the bugaboo of policing has
been debunked, you will be more inclined to be supportive instead of
suspicious of mandates.

(Charles Oppenheim's recent posting on the "Liege Strategy" of
Professor Bernard Rentier, Rector of U Liege and director of EOS is
especially pertinent: An excellent incentive for complying with
deposit mandates is to make the repository the institution's official
administrative database for submitting publications for annual
performance review!

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

> kind regards,
> Jenny Delasalle
> Academic Support Manager (Research)
> University of Warwick Library
> Gibbet Hill Road
> Coventry CV4 7AL
> United Kingdom
> Tel: (+44) (0) 2476 15 12 75
> Submit your work to WRAP:
Received on Wed Mar 24 2010 - 13:50:21 GMT

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