Re: JAIRO (Japanese Institutional Repositories Online)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 19:30:46 +0100

On Sun, 19 Sep 2010, Syun Tutiya wrote:

> Stevan,
> Very good to have a dialog with you again. I perfectly agree with you
> that "in sum, Japan needs -- and can adopt -- Green OA self-archiving
> mandates no more nor less feasibly than every other research-active
> country on the planet." I don't know everything about campus politics
> or the scholar's way of thinking all over the world, but from my
> conversations with and observations of the colleagues both on the
> teaching faculty and in the library, I actually suspect that Japan is
> not unique with respect to the "passivity" issue.


That's right. Japan differs from the rest of the world neither on
the matter of mandatability nor on the matter of passivity. (That was my

> All scholars like
> OA and they would say yes if asked to deposit their articles by a
> serious and benevolent librarian, though most of the time without any
> action of really logging on to their institution's repository.

Passivity is not just laziness about doing the keystrokes. (That is just
one of the at-least-38 reasons for passivity. Others, as I said,
include [groundless] worries about copyright, peer review, journal
acceptance etc. Mandates are needed to placate all these worries.)

But the worry about keystrokes is a particularly silly one, these days.
We have shown that deposit takes only about 6 minutes. (Multiply this
with how many papers an author publishes per year -- and compare it with
the time it takes to do the keystrokes to write the paper itself, let
alone the research on which it is based.)

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

And don't forget that most scientists and scholars would not bother
doing the keystrokes to write up the paper at all, if there were no
"publish or perish" mandate.

A "self-archive to flourish" mandate is simply a natural extension of
the "publish or perish" mandate for the Online Era: Doing the research
and then putting the results in a desk-drawer is not enough (hence
"publish or perish"). Now publishing them and leaving them behind a
toll-access barrier is not enough ("self-archive to flourish").

The reward for self-archiving is enhanced research impact. Research
performance is already being evaluated by richer criteria than
publication counts. For example, citations are now also being counted
(and so are an increasing number of rich and diverse new research uptake
and impact metrics that open access will both enable and enhance).

So if the reason "publish or perish" mandates work in getting scholars
and scientists to publish is because publications count, it is already
increasingly true that citations count too, and will amply reward the
small number of keystrokes per paper that they cost.

The best way to implement Green OA self-archiving mandate is simply to
make deposit in the institutional repository the means of submitting
publications for institutional performance review (and national
research assessment, as in the UK and Australia): If a publication is
not deposited, it is invisible for performance review. (See the U. Liege
mandate in ROARMAP, for a model.)

Researchers are quite accustomed to doing things electronically these
days. This is just another such thing.

> But I am not convinced that I would deposit should it be mandated on
> my campus to deposit. If I should deposit, I would be doing it
> because I thought I should, not because it was mandated. If I
> didn't, I would not because of time or labor but just because I didn't
> think I would. If i happen to have an article published by a
> "prestigious" journal, my university might reward me materially and/or
> morally, or the scholarly society which I am member of might praise me
> very cheaply, anyway to my satisfaction. I, as a hedonistic person,
> don't have to care about the "real" impact of my work. Unless there
> was a chance of being fired because of not depositing, I would not be
> inclined to deposit.

Well, you answered your own question. No need for negative consequences
like firing! Positive consequences like promotion, tenure, salary and
prizes are enough. Some of this already comes with publishing in a
"prestigious" journal. Enhanced citations are another thing that
universities and research assessors are already rewarding -- as they
should, because the purpose of publishing research is uptake, usage and
impact, not just decoration!

And of course it helps one's motivation if one knows that unless a paper
is deposited in the institutional repository, it will be invisible for
institutional and national performance assessment altogether.

One would have thought that the empirical findings on how OA enhances
uptake and impact would have been enough to motivate self-archiving
without any need for a mandate, but apparently not. They are, however,
enough to motivate institutions to adopt a mandate, so as to maximize
their impact. Moreover, they also bring economic rewards for
institutions, such as a 25/1 benefit/cost ratio:

"The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report"

> With some form of mandates, I would just weigh
> the consequences of following and not following the mandate. If you
> are respected scientist, you will want to have your articles read by
> respectable scientists. Such scientists tend to be employed by good
> higher education or research institutions, which tend to be rich
> enough to subscribe to all good enough journals. You don't have to
> read all peer reviewed articles, but you have only to work seriously
> on good articles written by good authors. No doubt Hokkaido
> University can not afford to subscribe to all journals so that their
> researchers have access to all peer reviewed journals, but they have
> access probably to all good enough articles. Researchers there can
> not help being passive.

This is just #29 "Sitting Pretty" again:

The finding is that the OA advantage is bigger for the better articles;
so it is the best authors that have the most to gain.

Based on the way authors immediately look at the reference lists of new
articles to see whether their own work has been cited, I rather doubt
that authors who are "Sitting Pretty" are exceptions. The more our work
is taken up, used and built upon, the more we sense that it was
worthwhile doing in the first place.

Hokkaido University may be able to afford all journals that publish the
articles by the "good authors." But are all the "good authors" at
Hokkaido University so sure that all the other "good authors" are at
universities that can likewise afford all journals that publish the
articles by the "good authors"...?

I think "Sitting Pretty" may be one of the factors behind author passivity
about self-archiving spontaneously, unmandated. I would say that to
the extent that it may also be enough to induce some "good authors" not
to comply with self-archiving mandates, then that's fine. The research
world is still incomparably better off with OA to all research except
the research of these particularly pretty-sitting "good authors." What
percentage do you think they constitute of all research -- or even of all
"good research" worldwide...?

> So your reference to your Point #29 is quite correct. I agree that
> those who are sitting pretty don't understand the relationship between
> impact of and access to scholarly articles, and so I would be wrong.
> But that is how they and we are. We have to change them and must not
> keep telling them that they are wrong. Mandating does not seem to me
> to change them, but just encourage them to come up with reasons for
> not being able to deposit. You will still have to talk to them.

But that's perfectly fine! Just go ahead and adopt the mandate; tie it,
preferably also to performance assessment; and then let the chips fall
where they may.

That's infinitely better than just sitting passively, as now! And all
evidence is that mandates do work -- and especially when tied to
performance review procedures:

"Success of U Liege Open Access Mandate Accelerated by Link to
Performance Assessment"

> But I agree that it should be possible for our knowledge to be shared
> and made accessible by the humankind today and for ever, just because
> it is knowledge. There is no doubt about it.

That we've known for at least two decades.

It's now time to do something about it.

And adopting institutional and funder mandates is the thing to do.

Best wishes,

Received on Sat Sep 18 2010 - 19:33:07 BST

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