Re: Repository effectiveness

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 19:14:40 -0400

On Sat, Sep 18, 2010 at 4:59 PM, Velterop <> wrote:

> Stevan makes the point that deposit takes only about 6 minutes. He's
> undoubtedly measured it precisely. I don't know at what point his
> measurements started, but I presume at the point where he has already found
> the submission page (and the link to it doesn't produce a 404).

It's rather evident that Jan is innocent of ever having self-archived
an article in his life. If he had done so, then he would know that
self-archiving articles is nothing like searching and retrieving
articles. Self-archiving begins at home, in your own institutional
repository -- a repository whose URL you presumably know, especially
if deposit is mandated by your institution.

I encourage Jan to do a deposit: He can use or opendepot

(The timing stats came from weblogs and started when the depositors
logged in and began the deposit.)

> mandates are the stick; citation advantage etc. the carrot;

Actually, mandates are not a stick. None of them have a penalty for
noncompliance. Even those that make the repository the sole means of
submitting publications for performance review are not sticks, unless
making, say, RTF (or PDF) the sole format for submitting a CV is a
stick: It is not a stick, just an updated bureaucratic format for
doing what authors are doing already.

> but the problem
> is that the carrot often lies behind a fence that is difficult to climb.

Please first try to self-archive a paper, and then come back and we
can discuss how hard you found the climb...

> Might, just might it be that therein lies at least some of an explanation of
> the author's passivity?

Yes, as I said, the groundless fear -- on the part of those (80%) who
have never self-archived -- that self-archiving is hard and
time-consuming is indeed one of the (38) groundless reasons for their
passivity. But it is definitely not the first groundless reason. That
would be either fear that it's illegal (#10), that it jeopardizes
acceptance by the journal (#10), or that it bypasses peer review (#7).

> I did a random – unscientific – spot check of a
> number of repositories listed on the OpenDOAR web site. It needs a
> systematic follow-up, but what I found in my random sample are the following
> issues:
> The OpenDOAR link doesn't always link to a repository, but fairly often to
> the library home page where finding a link to the institutional repository
> can be a challenge.

(1) As noted, institutional authors don't consult an external
directory to find their own institutional repository.

(2) To find repositories, try ROAR.

(3) Yes, some repositories go belly-up after a while, because the
institution never got its act together to adopt a mandate that would
fill its belly...

> When one is on a repository page, it is overwhelmingly focussed on search,
> and rarely if ever does it attract attention to submissions

Local search of a repository is mostly an institution-internal matter.
But a well configured repository always has a clear "add publications"
link or something like that. (Why don't you try depositing? Nothing
much is learnt by just perusing a lot of repositories' front pages!)

> Links to submission forms are sometimes broken (producing the 404 'page
> cannot be found' error)

Vide supra.

> Submission forms are sometimes very cumbersome

The essential fields are author, title, journal, year, refereed, and a
few other obvious bibliographic metadata. The repositories that ask
for much more than that are probably spending more of their time on
elaborating their metadata wish-lists than filling their bellies...

> Sometimes, one can only submit an abstract and metadata, not the whole
> article.

Forget those repositories: They don't even know where their belly is,
let alone what to fill it with, or how.

Go to ROAR and check out some of the mandated, well-stocked
repositories. (But this is all just window-shopping: You won't find
out how much/little time or effort self-archiving takes till you
actually do it.)

> What needs to happen is at least the following:
> Make a repository easy to find (a Google search for "University of X
> repository" more often seems to produce a link to an article or press
> release about the repository than a link to the repository itself, at least
> on the first few pages of the search results – repositories often have names
> or acronyms that make them difficult to find if you don't know the name)

Jan, this is a complete non-problem. Institutional users find out
their own institutional repository's URL from their institution's own
local self-archiving policy page, not from a remote web search. If the
institution has no policy, the repository is a joke. (There are plenty
of those: There are so far only 170 Green OA mandates.)

> Draw attention, unambiguously and very clearly, on the repository home page,
> to the possibility of submitting a paper/manuscript (e.g. a brightly
> coloured "submit now!" button)

Good idea. But a "submit now" mandate is the only thing that will do
the trick...

> Make the deposit procedure very, very easy and intuitive. Involve UX experts
> where possible.

Have you tried depositing? Till then, you cannot know whether or not
it's easy and intuitive.

Yes, it's always good to have a UX to hold one's hand with every new
app, but self-archiving is so simple it's hardly necessary -- and
certainly not after the first time.

> Make deposit the *prime* focus of the repository. Repositories and their
> contents can be searched in a variety of ways and via many routes, but
> submission of articles can only take place via the repository's own web
> site.

I agree! The DEPOSIT link should be clear and the most prominent one
on the home page. But once you start the deposit, all the other
irrelevant stuff vanishes. (And, as usual, it's the complicated,
multi-tasked repositories that have the empty bellies and lack the
self-archiving policies. A focussed mandate can quickly cure that.
EPrints and DSpace repositories are configurable, and
reconfigurable... But not much hinges on appearance: what matters is

> The relentless and repetitive appeal to, and preoccupation with, logic and
> rationality should surely be dropped. They don't persuade.

They definitely don't persuade passive authors (80%) to self-archive,

But you may not have noticed, Jan, that for years now my target has
been institutional and funding agency policy-makers, to persuade them
to adopt mandates. I gave up on trying to persuade passive authors
with reason and evidence a decade ago; that's why I turned to

> As Syun Tutiya so
> rightly says about authors, "We have to change them and must not keep
> telling them that they are wrong."

Who says to tell authors they are wrong? I'm arguing for the adoption
of self-archiving mandates, that's all.

> Empathy has to take the place of nagging.

Exactly where did providing reasons and evidence (no matter how
relentlessly) become "nagging"? Is the proper response to reasons and
evidence not rebuttal and counter-evidence, rather than "stop nagging

> Persuasion techniques that are more like those used in marketing need to be
> deployed.

Hard to use sales techniques when one is not selling anything -- but
I'm open to any strategic suggestions that work. (But "stop nagging"
certainly isn't one!)

My "marketing" consists in demonstrating the citation advantage (of
Green and Gold OA). John Houghton's consists in estimating the
economic advantages of Green and Gold OA.

Green OA can be provided immediately, and universally, by mandating
it, and mandates work. Gold OA cannot be mandated, and costs money
(which is currently tied up in subscriptions). Hence Green OA must be
given priority.

That's reasoning and evidence.

> And things like the completely useless bashing of OA publishing
> ("Gold rush") may perhaps dissuade some people from submitting to OA
> journals, it definitely doesn't help to persuade them to go "green". And
> Open Access suffers as a result.

Jan, as you know, I don't try to dissuade people from submitting to OA
journals (in fact I submit to them myself). I try to persuade people
that submitting to OA journals is not the only way to provide OA (the
OA=GoldOA fallacy) and that (2) institutions and funders should never,
never commit to subsidizing Gold OA until and unless they have first
mandated Green OA.

Otherwise OA suffers as a result.

And the persuasion is based on reasoning and evidence.

> If one cannot motivate authors to self-archive, it's not their 'passivity'
> that is to blame, it is one's lack of persuasiveness.

To repeat: I have not been trying to persuade authors to self-archive
for a decade: I have been trying to persuade their institutions and
funders to mandate self-archiving.

Chrs, Stevan

> Success!
> Jan Velterop
> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> [cut]
> 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.)
> [cut]
> Syun Tutiya wrote:
> 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.
Received on Sun Sep 19 2010 - 01:37:11 BST

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