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[BOAI] Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Quote/Comments on: Clifford A. Lynch: "Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age" http://www.arl.org/newsltr/226/ir.html Cliff Lynch makes many very good points. I disagree with him only on one point, but it is a fundamental one, with important practical and strategic implications for the immediate future: What is the most pressing reason for creating and filling institutional repositories at this time? Cliff thinks it is to promote new forms of scholarship whereas I think it is to promote refereed research. The new scholarship is coming too, and will certainly grow in importance, but the immediate rationale for creating and filling institutional repositories is for the self-archiving of institutional research input, in order to maximize its research impact, by maximizing user access to it, through open access: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/ > faculty have been exploring ways in which works of authorship in the new > digital medium can enhance teaching and learning and the communication > of scholarship This is the familiar and valid complaint that the university has not been sufficiently supportive of online innovations by faculty, neither in terms of resourcing it nor in terms of rewarding it. This is true, and it is indeed a problem, and no doubt slowing innovation. But it is also being remedied, by increasing recognition and support, and the persistence of innovative faculty. It is *not* the reason universities need digital repositories urgently at this time, and this is *not* the (main) content that will fill them. > faculty have exploited the Net as a vehicle for sharing their ideas > worldwide, whether these ideas are expressed in relatively familiar > forms such as digital versions of traditional journal articles or (less > commonly) in entirely new forms... This is a combination of the two kinds of content that are at issue here. I am putting the primary emphasis on the "familiar forms" ↵ rather than the new ones (important and valuable though they too are). The progress, productivity and funding of scholarly and scientific research depend directly on its visibility and accessibility: the degree to which it is found, seen, read, used, cited, applied, built-upon by other researchers. In a word, it all depends on *research impact.* And research impact depends on research access. Whatever blocks access blocks impact. There are 20,000 peer-reviewed research journals, across all disciplines worldwide, publishing 2,000,000 articles annually. Almost all of these articles are accessible to researchers (i.e., to their potential users) only if their institution can afford the toll-access (subscription, license) to the journal in which they were published. And most universities cannot afford toll-access to most journals -- even the richest can only afford a minority of the 20,000. This means that *all* research on the planet is inaccessible to *most* of its potential users. And every single case of access-denial is a case of potential impact loss. The overwhelming, pressing rationale for institutional repositories is accordingly: to put an end of this daily impact loss -- a legacy of the paper era when the true costs of paper access made it unavoidable, but no longer necessary in the online era, when open access can be provided by institutions for their own refereed research output. It is quite natural for researchers to self-archive their own refereed research output in their own institutional archives, giving it away to all of its would-be users worldwide for free, in order to maximize its research impact, for they have been giving it away free to their publishers for the very same reason throughout the paper era: Unlike all other authors, researchers have always given away their work, written only for impact, not for royalty revenue from toll-income. Hence it is only natural that now that it has become possible to do so, they should self-archive it in their own institutional archives so as to put an end to the needless daily impact loss that is a legacy of the paper era. This -- and not new forms of scholarship -- is the immediate, pressing rationale for creating and filling institutional repositories at this time. And this (refereed research output) is the content with which they need to be filled, as soon as possible. With it -- and their newfound role as *outgoing* collections of a university's own research output instead of *incoming* collections of the output of other universities -- the institutional archives will also become the repositories for new forms of scholarship. But the first and most urgent step is to put an end to the needless daily impact loss for peer-reviewed research. What about the peer-reviewed journals? Their toll-access mechanism of cost-recovery may continue to co-exist with the open-access versions in the institutional repositories, with those researchers whose institutions can afford it using the former and those who cannot using the latter -- or the journals may eventually have to cut costs and downsize to the essentials in the online era, which may well prove to be just peer-review service-provision alone, with the access, storage and distribution offloaded onto the institutional repositories. Peer-review only costs about $500 per outgoing paper, whereas those institutions who can afford it are paying an average of $2000 (collectively) per incoming paper in access-tolls -- in exchange for the very limited access this provides, restricted to the minority who can afford it. http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/Articles/harnad.html#B1 > faculty are well motivated to rise above the institutional failures to > help them disseminate their works Indeed they are, in the service of maximizing their research impact and putting an end to its needless loss. But maximizing research impact is in the interest of their institutions too, as the benefits of research impact (research funding, prizes, prestige) are shared by faculty and their institutions. Let me count the three most obvious ways that the self-archiving of institutional research output benefits researchers' institutions: (1) Open access to an institution's research output maximizes its impact and its rewards, as noted. (2) Open access, being reciprocal if practised by other institutions too, maximizes faculty access to the research output of *other* institutions, generating better-informed and more current research (using the research output of others, as you would have them use yours!). (3) If/when there is ever an eventual downsizing of peer-reviewed journals to the remaining online-age essentials (probably only peer review itself), then there is also the prospect of eventual institutional windfall savings of up to 75% on serials budgets. > a faculty member seeking... broader dissemination and availability of > his or her traditional journal articles...faces several time-consuming > problems... [F]aculty time is being wasted, and expended ineffectively, > on system administration activities and content curation. Cliff here means the time-consuming problem of maintaining a website for self-archiving one's own research output. An institutional archive is certainly a more sensible solution than having each researcher maintain his own archive. > Institutional repositories can maintain data in addition to authored > scholarly works. In this sense, the institutional repository is a > complement and a supplement, rather than a substitute, for traditional > scholarly publication venues. Not only is the institutional archive a supplement rather than a substitute when it self-archives data that could not be included with the published article, but it is a supplement even when it self-archives the article: The self-archived open-access version is a supplement to the journal's toll-access version, to maximize its research impact. It is not a substitute for journal publication -- and certainly not a substitute for peer review -- though it might one day become a substitute for toll-access (for those who can afford it: for those who cannot, it is already a substitute today!). > where the disciplinary practice is ready, institutional repositories can > feed disciplinary repositories directly. In cases where the disciplinary > culture is more conservative, where scholarly societies or key journals > choose to hold back change, institutional repositories can help > individual faculty take the lead in initiating shifts in disciplinary > practice. There is no need -- in the age of OAI-interoperability -- for institutional archives to "feed" central disciplinary archives: They need only feed OAI metadata harvesters. The institution is the natural locus for self-archiving its own research output, for each of its disciplines. And it is individual researchers, not disciplines, who will overcome the old habits, with the incentive to self-archive coming from the discipline-universal benefits of maximizing research impact. These benefits are shared by researchers and their institutions, not by researchers and their disciplines (which are more of a locus for *competing* for impact than for *sharing* it!). And journals are not holding back change (and cannot): They are themselves changing with the new possibilities the online medium has provided to allow researchers to maximize their research impact: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/Romeo%20Publisher%20Policies.htm But it is certainly true that university archives can help faculty take the lead by providing the resources and policy that facilitates self-archiving: http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#institution-facilitate-filling > Institutional repositories can encourage the exploration and adoption of > new forms of scholarly communication... This, to me, is perhaps the most > important and exciting payoff Here is where Cliff and I disagree. Exciting as they are, the new forms are not the immediate priority: Open access to the "old forms" is. ↵ Then the new forms will come too. But first the full research impact of the old forms, at last. They will pave the way for the rest. > The first potential danger is that institutional repositories are cast > as tools of institutional (administrative) strategies to exercise > control over what has typically been faculty controlled intellectual > work. I believe that any institutional repository approach that requires > deposit of faculty or student works and/or uses the institutional > repository as a means of asserting control or ownership over these works > will likely fail, and probably deserves to fail... This is not to say > that policies mandating the deposit of materials that are broadly > recognized as part of the institutional record ... are inappropriate. I agree completely. The purpose of institutional archives and archive-filling policies is not to assert control or ownership over faculty research output! It is to maximize its research impact by maximizing user access to it. http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/Ariadne-RAE.htm http://paracite.eprints.org/cgi-bin/rae_front.cgi Mixing up the open-access agenda with other university dreams about generating new revenue streams from faculty intellectual output (software, patents, courseware, distance education, electronic publishing) is not only wrong-headed, but it risks delaying the real and sizeable benefits of open access to refereed research output, turning the institutional repository movement into aimless gridlock for some time to come. > My second concern is... [that] administrators, librarians, and faculty > members wishing to challenge existing systems of scholarly publishing > (specifically their economic models and their creation of barriers to > access through intellectual property control and licensing arrangements) > may try to link their efforts too directly to institutional repositories > by imposing inappropriate policy constraints I agree. See above. And here is a model for an appropriate policy: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~lac/archpol.html > it dramatically underestimates the importance of institutional > repositories to characterize them as instruments for restructuring the > current economics of scholarly publishing I agree again. It is not the business of universities to restructure the economics of scholarly publishing. It is the business of universities to do research, publish their findings, and make sure that those findings are put to full use. Maximizing all would-be users' access to them is the way to ensure the latter. And that might (but just might) eventually have some effects on the economics of refereed journal publication. But that would only be a side-effect, not the direct motivation or justification at all: That direct motivation and justification is to maximize the impact of institutional research output by making it open-access -- by self-archiving it in the institutional repository. > the institutional repository isn't a journal, or a collection of > journals, and should not be managed like one. That's not the point or > the purpose of an institutional repository. Correct. It is an open-access supplement to toll-access via the journals. > Institutional repositories are not a challenge or alternative to > disciplinary repositories; rather, they complement them, just as they > can complement existing venues of scholarly publication. In the era of OAI, institutional and disciplinary archives are equivalent, because completely interoperable. However, the shared interest of researchers and their institutions in maximizing the impact of their research output makes institutional archives a better bet for hastening open access, especially as they are in a position to modify their existing publish/perish policies so as to mandate self-archiving in order to maximize research impact. http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/0293.html > It is desirable to make this as simple as possible... with a simple and > stable submission interface to the institutional repository. The simple solution is available already: See the 60+ Eprints.org institutional archives http://software.eprints.org/#ep2 in use for over 2 years and growing: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/tim.ppt The challenging part is not creating the free self-archiving software, nor in making it simple, nor in getting it adopted, but in getting the archives filled, which requires a clear, coherent institutional self-archiving policy -- with a clear sense of *what* needs to be self-archived, *how* and *why*: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~lac/archpol.html > It's vital that institutions recognize institutional repositories as a > serious and long-lasting commitment to the campus community (and to the > scholarly world, and the public at large) Yes, but *far* more important than this advance long-lasting commitment to an empty archive is a coherent policy for getting it filled! > An institutional repository can fail over time for many reasons: policy > (for example, the institution chooses to stop funding it), management > failure or incompetence, or technical problems. Any of these failures > can result in the disruption of access...I worry a great deal about what > the various impacts and implications of the first few major failures of > institutional repositories And I worry a great deal about worries about the permanence of empty or even non-existent archives, instead of directing all energies and resourcefulness to filling the archives! Get the precious intellectual eggs into the basket, and their very presence there will be the best guarantor that they will be maintained in perpetuum. Worry instead about permanence now and all you do is add another item to the long list of needless worries that are holding back self-archiving: http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#1.Preservation And this is also the point to remind ourselves, again, that self-archiving is a *supplement* to, not a *substitute* for journal publication. Until and unless there is a transition and downsizing from toll-access journal publication to open-access journal publication, the primary preservation burden is not on the institutional archives! Their burden is merely to provide open-access to it, now, as a supplement for those who cannot afford toll-access. So stop worrying about archives failing and work instead on archives filling! > Not every higher education institution will need or want to run an > institutional repository, though I think ultimately almost every such > institution will want to offer some institutional repository services to > its community. We will see various forms of consortial or cluster > institutional repositories. Maybe. But it seems to me that this is only a substantive question if we are talking about the industrial strength archive software such as DSpace. For the "light" softwares such as Eprints, there is so little start-up time and maintenance required that I would think any institution that generated research output could and would run its own. (Again, there is not enough *content* yet to talk about fancy consortial schemes! Let's get the culture of self-archiving rolling before we worry about the load being to great for an institution to manage on its own!) > Federation of institutional repositories may also subsume the > development of arrangements that recognize and facilitate faculty > mobility and cross-institutional collaborations. This can be managed at the metadata level without any special need to "federate" (over and above OAI-interoperability). A metadata tag indicating current institutions, and tags indicating prior institutions and dates will allow all research to be triangulated upon (for where it was done, and when). > The MIT [free repository] software is not the only option available, > although I believe it is the most general-purpose; for example, there > is [free repository] software from the University of Southampton in > the U.K. <http:// www.eprints.org/> designed more specifically for > institutional or disciplinary repositories of papers, as opposed to > arbitrary digital materials. And I have here tried to give the reasons why the pressing challenge now is not general-purpose archiving of arbitrary digital materials, but the self-archiving of institutional refereed research output, to maximize its research impact by maximizing its visibility and accessibility, through open access. http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/unto-others.html Stevan Harnad ------------------------------------------------------------------- NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & ↵ 02): http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html or http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/index.html Discussion can be posted to: september98-forum AT amsci-forum.amsci.org See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative: http://www.soros.org/openaccess the BOAI Forum: http://www.eprints.org/boaiforum.php/ the Free Online Scholarship Movement: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/timeline.htm the SPARC position paper on institutional repositories: http://www.unites.uqam.ca/src/sante.htm the OAI site: http://www.openarchives.org and the free OAI institutional archiving software site: http://www.eprints.org/
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