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Re: [BOAI] Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives

From: Thomas Krichel <krichel AT>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 20:57:13 +0200

Threading: Re: [BOAI] Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives from freemamh AT
      • This Message
             [BOAI] Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives from harnad AT

  Stevan Harnad writes

> Hence my conclusion that distributed, interoperable OAI institutional
> archives are enough (and the fastest route to open-access). No need
> to harvest their contents into central OAI discipline-based archives
> (except perhaps for redundancy, as backup).

  I agree. 

  But this is not what I mean by "not enough". I suggest that 
  institutional archives will lie empty unless there are better
  incentives for scholars to contribute to them. If you tell
  them that it will open their scholarship to the world to
  read, they will listen. If you tell them, figures at hand, 
  how much it does, and how much impact they gain---relatively
  to their colleagues in the offices next door---they will act.
  To be able to build such measures, you need to build complicated
  datasets. This is too complex a task to be done in all disciplines
  at once. Therefore you need to work discipline by discipline. 
> It should be noted, though, that Thomas Krichel's excellent RePec
> archive and service in Economics -- -- goes
> well beyond the confines of OAI-harvesting! RePec harvests non-OAI
> content too, along lines similar to the way ResearchIndex/citeseer --

  Not really, these systems are quite different actually. But
  this is a matter for another email...

> by (3) self-archiving them on arbitrary Web and FTP sites (and
> hoping they will be found or harvested by services like Repec or
> ResearchIndex)

  RePEc is not a harvesting service. RePEc has pioneered the way
  OAI operates before there was OAI. The degree of interoperability
  that it achieves goes way beyond what OAI achieves at present,
  but we are only at the start with OAI, remember. Basically RePEc aims to 
  achieve a type of dataset that will allow to measure impact---as
  mentioned in my first paragraph---but it is not quite there yet.
  In the meantime, it acts as the starting point for a whole bunch
  of user and contributor services.

  (sorry, I could not resist...)

> My conclusion in favor of institutional self-archiving is based on the
> evidence and on logic, and it represents a change of thinking,
> for I had originally advocated (3) Web/FTP self-archiving --
> -- then switched allegiance
> to central self-archiving (1), even creating a discipline-based archive:
> But with the advent of OAI in 1999,
> plus a little reflection, it became apparent that
> institutional self-archiving (2) was the fastest, most direct, and most
> natural road to open access:
> And since then its accumulating momentum seems to be confirming that this
> is indeed so:

  Hmm, with you changing your mind, and with more than a little
  reflection over that many years, I think all of us on this
  forum will be convinced that the best road is not an easy topic
  to approach. I don't have the answer either, but I will show
  instead that there is no answer.

  The way I see it that if you want to achieve self-archiving,
  you have to get authors to self-archive. To do that, you need
  to find the right incentives. One way is to have Clifford Lynch
  running around campus, switching off every independent web
  service because it is a security risk, and then force faculty
  to digitally publish through a central facility. Granted, my 
  vision of Clifford's intention is exagerated, but even a milder
  form of it will not succeed. This is no way to run a university.
  Right? So you are left off to find a way in which you have to give
  incentives to academics. Now, please accept my hypothesis that
  publishing is done more with the academic colleagues in mind
  rather than with the university's central administration 
  in mind. Then you inevitably end up with a situation where
  you have to get a whole discipline along to self-archive. As
  long as others in the discipline are not doing it, there 
  is little interest in the individual scholar doing it. They
  may send the paper directly to closed-access publisher facilities
  or, may be in addition, upload it on a web site somewhere.

> >   The primary sense of belonging
> >   of a scholar in her research activities is with the disciplinary
> >   community of which she thinks herself a part... It certainly
> >   is not with the institution.
> That may or may not be the case, but in any case it is irrelevant to
> the question of which is the more promising route to open-access. Our
> primary sense of belonging may be with our family, our community,
> our creed, our tribe, or even our species. But our rewards (research
> grant funding and overheads, salaries, postdocs and students attracted
> to our research, prizes and honors) are intertwined and shared with our
> institutions (our employers) and not our disciplines (which are often
> in fact the locus of competition for those same rewards!)

  Sure, that is why we need institutional support to take the competition
  head on, by maximising the impact of our work. But the object of 
  the competition is still the discipline.

> Content "aggregation," in other words, is a paper-based notion. 
> the online era, it merely means digital sorting of the pointers to
> the content.

  I understand that. But you can aggregate and aggregate, as 
  long as you not prove that formal archiving is improving impact,
  you are not likely to get far with your formal archiving.

> >   I am afraid, there more and more such faculty members. Much
> >   of the research papers found over the Internet are deposited
> >   in the way. This trend is growing not declining.
> You mean self-archiving in arbitrary non-OAI author websites? 

  I do.

> There is another reason why institutional OAI archives and official
> institutional self-archiving policies (and assistance) are so
> important. In reality, it is far easier to deposit and maintain
> one's papers in institutional OAI archives like Eprints than to set
> up and maintain one's own website.  All that is needed is a clear
> official institutional policy, plus some startup help in launching
> it. (No such thing is possible at a "discipline" level.)


  If this is what authors feel, then this is wonderful. But the
  proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the authors do not
  deposit, you will have to think (yet again) about your best

  Incidentally, have you deposited all your papers in institutional
  archives? I see some ~harnad above. Heaven forbid I tell Clifford
  about this :-) 

> But where there is a causal contingency -- as there is
> between (a) the research impact and its rewards, which academics like as
> much as anyone else, and (b) the accessibility of their research -- 
> are surely no less responsive than Prof. Skinner's pigeons and rats to
> those causal contingencies, and which buttons they will have to press
> in order to maximize their rewards!

  Yes, but the arguing in the aggregate is not sufficient, I think.
  You have to demonstrate that to individual academics, figures at
  hand. In the meantime you have to collect formally archive contents.
  Institutional archives is one way, departmental is another way,
  discipline based archiving another, but there is no "right" or
  "wrong" way. Whatever way there is discipline-based services will
  be a key to providing incentives to scholars. 

  With greetings from Minsk, Belarus,

  Thomas Krichel               

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