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[BOAI] The RePEc (Economics) Model
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT ecs.soton.ac.uk>
[Subject header changed from the Cliff Lynch paper to RePEc to reflect the change in focus.] On Wed, 19 Mar 2003, Thomas Krichel wrote: > For self-archiving, abstract understanding [by academics] > is not sufficient. You need action by academics. > If you want to have an intermediated > process (by means of an archive) then it will crucially depend > on the behaviour of the intermediary, in this case of the archive > management. The Repec model is one in which many distributed institutions, each having archives of multiple economics papers of their own, have their metadata gathered together and enriched to provide OAI-like interoperability: http://repec.org/ Instead of using the OAI protocol, Repec uses the "Guildford" ↵ protocol -- ftp://netec.mcc.ac.uk/pub/NetEc/RePEc/all/root/docu/guilp.html -- but it has been announced that Repec plans to become OAI-compliant eventually. (Repec does *not*, as I had wrongly assumed, cover individual websites too, as ResearchIndex/citeseer http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/cs does, only multi-paper institutional archives.) Repec is accordingly a form of institutional self-archiving, pre-dating the OAI, but (1) focused on one discipline only (economics), and (2) not requiring the individual archives to be OAI-compliant (but Guildford-compliant). It is a very activist project, "a collaborative effort of over 100 volunteers in 30 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in economics." It should be noted at once that if every discipline had its own institutional Guildford-compliant archives and volunteers, as Economics has, then I and many others would today be promoting Institutional Guilford-compliant repositories rather than Institutional OAI-compliant repositories (and the free software that Southampton designed for creating OAI-compliant institutional repositories for self-archiving http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october00/10inbrief.html would have been Guildford-compliant software). As it happened, it is OAI that prevailed (inspired partly by Guildford and Repec), with Thomas Krichel as one of its co-founders, and still a member of the OAI technical committee. What distinguished Repec is hence not its interoperability protocol (since it plans to become OAI-compliant anyway) but (a) its activism and (b) its discipline-specificity. If there were a way to spread Repec's activism from economics to the other disciplines, it would certainly be very welcome, just as it would be very welcome if there were a way to spread ArXiv's central-archiving tendency to the other disciplines. Unfortunately, no such generalization of either Repec or Arxiv to the other disciplines has taken place (Repec began in 1997, Arxiv in 1991). http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm It is for this reason that it is OAI-compliant institutional self-archiving that I happen to be promoting. And this is at last showing signs of generalizing http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/tim-arch.htm though still not fast enough. It is for that reason that various forms of activism need to be promoted too, especially institutional activism: http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#institution-facilitate-filling http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#libraries-do http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#research-funders-do http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/Ariadne-RAE.htm http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~lac/archpol.html http://paracite.eprints.org/cgi-bin/rae_front.cgi > You have changed your mind twice on what the optimal business > model is. You will change it again... I have changed my mind in response to specific empirical changes that have taken place across the years. (I would hope everyone else has done so too.) For me, the first major change was the Internet itself, converting me from conducting most activities on-paper to on-line: http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/documents/disk0/00/00/15/81/ I even founded an online-only journal (1989): http://psycprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk Then came Ann Okerson's suggestion that information should be free, which I initially dismissed as unrealistic, but then realized that it could be turned into something that made excellent sense on condition that it was applied very specifically only to *author give-away* information (of which the refereed research literature is the main representative), rather than all information (or even all scholarly information): http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Papers/Harnad/harnad95.quo.vadis.html That was what then prompted the "subversive proposal" that ↵ researchers should self-archive their give-away research (1994): http://www.arl.org/scomm/subversive/toc.html At first, FTP sites and Web sites seemed the simplest, fastest and most direct way for researchers to self-archive, on a distributed, institutional basis; but then the slow progress in this, and the success of the physicists' centralized disciplinary model suggested that centralized, discipline-based self-archiving might be faster, with the Physics Arxiv itself perhaps subsuming it all http://cogprints.soton.ac.uk/documents/disk0/00/00/16/99/ (Thomas Krichel argued against central archiving, and in favor of distributed archiving at the time, but at that time, pre-OAI, and with Arxiv looking as if it would scale up, it was not at all clear why distributed archiving was preferable.) I even founded a central disciplinary archive modeled on the Physics Arxiv, (Cogprints, designed by Matt Hemus, 1997 and later Rob Tansley) with a view to Arxiv's eventually subsuming it: http://cogprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/ But central archiving did not catch on (Cogprints has only reached 1500 papers in 2003) or generalize to other disciplines, and Arxiv itself kept growing at only an unchanged linear rate from year to year: http://arxiv.org/show_monthly_submissions And then came the OAI protocol in 1999, making distributed self-archiving equivalent to central (because of interoperability) http://www.openarchives.org/documents/index.html which immediately prompted me to ask Rob Tansley to redesign the Cogprints software to make it OAI-compliant and then turn it into free generic OAI archive-creating software for institutions http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october00/10inbrief.html Next came the Budapest Open Access Initiative, uniting the two roads to open access (BOAI-1: self-archiving; BOAI-2: open-access journals) http://www.soros.org/openaccess/ And the self-archiving momentum has been growing ever since: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/tim-arch.htm But I am still ready to change my mind if any new developments call for it. (I hope you are too!) The momentum is still not nearly as great as it could and should be. > RePEc does not index arbitrary website, but archive sites. > They have the same functionality as OAI archives, in fact > OAI was modeled after RePEc. The whole OAI concept was > first implemented there. I think I now understand this. See above. Both Repec's aggregation of institutional multi-paper archives in economics and Citeseer/ResearchIndex's harvesting of arbitrary individual websites in computer science are welcome interim measures for increasing the visibility and usability of what open-access content already exists online -- while the institutional OAI-compliant self-archiving momentum grows. Anything that helps fast-forward us toward universal open-access to the entire refereed research literature (2,000,000 papers per year, across all disciplines) is welcome and should be embraced by all who are open-minded among us, regardless of which open-access route they happen to favor. Stevan Harnad
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