Repositories vs. Quasitories, or Much Ado About Next To Nothing

?I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us?. I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library.. and its [peer review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancelation] savings. The only question is: When? This piece is written in the hope of wiping the potential smirk off Posterity’s face by persuading the academic cavalry, now that they have been led to the waters of self-archiving, that they should just go ahead and drink!? (Harnad, 20th century)

Richard Poynder notes that 17 years on, Institutional Repositories (IRs) are still half-empty of their target content: peer-reviewed research journal articles.

He is right. Most researchers are still not doing the requisite keystrokes to deposit their peer-reviewed papers (and their frantic librarians’ efforts are no substitute).

The reason is that researchers’ institutions and funders still have not got their heads around the right deposit mandates.

They will, but they will not get historic credit for having done it as soon as they could have.

Richard also says authors are more willing to deposit in Academia.edu and ResearchGate.

Not true. In percentage terms those central Quasitories are doing just as badly as IRs. But their visible recruiting efforts (software that keeps reminding and cajoling authors) is clever, and something along the same lines should be adopted as part of funder and especially institutional deposit mandates. (Keystrokes are keystrokes, whether done for one’s own institutional repository or a third party Quasitory.)

The biggest Quasitory of all is the Virtual Quasitory called Google Scholar (GS). GS has mooted most of the fuss about interoperability because it full-text-inverts all content. It’s a nuclear weapon, but it is in no hurry. Unlike institutions and funders, GS is under no financial pressure. And unlike publishers, it does not have the ambition or the need to capture and preserve publishers’ obsolete, parasitic functions (even though, unlike publishers, GS is in an incomparably better position to maximise functionality on the web). GS is waiting patiently for the research community to get its act together.

Institutions and funders are not just sluggish in adopting and optimizing their deposit mandates but they are making Faustian Little Deals with their parasites, prolonging their longstanding dysfunctional bondage.

Can’t blame publishers for striving at all costs to keep making a buck, even if they no longer really have any essential product, service or expertise to offer (other than managing peer review). Publishers’ last resort for clinging to their empty empire is the OA embargo — for which the antidote — the eprint-request button (the IR’s functional equivalent of Academia.edu and ResearchGate — is already known; it’s just waiting to be used, along with effective deposit mandates.

As to why it’s all taking so excruciatingly long: I’m no good at sussing that out, and besides, Alma Swan has forbidden me even to give voice to my suspicion, beyond perhaps the first of its nine letters: S.

Vincent-Lamarre, P, Boivin, J, Gargouri, Y, Larivière, V & Harnad, (2016) Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: The MELIBEA Score. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 67 (in press)

Swan, A; Gargouri, Y; Hunt, M; & Harnad, S (2015) Open Access Policy: Numbers, Analysis, Effectiveness. Pasteur4OA Workpackage 3 Report.

Harnad, S (2015) Open Access: What, Where, When, How and Why. In: Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: An International Resource. eds. J. Britt Holbrook & Carl Mitcham, (2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, Farmington Hills MI: MacMillan Reference)

Harnad, S (2015) Optimizing Open Access Policy. The Serials Librarian, 69(2), 133-141

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28

Brexit for UK Institutional Repositories?

This exchange on jisc-repositories (about abandoning institutional repositories for Elsevier’s “PURE” and/or for CRISes) is so outrageous that I could not resist a pause in my solemn self-imposed silence:

(1) I will assume (out of charity) that George McGregor was being supremely ironic when he quipped that Elsevier “Single handily inspired the global Open Access movement” and that

(2) Elsevier’s Alicia Wise has a tin ear for irony and took it as a compliment — and a cue for some free advertising.

(3) If UK universities are foolish and thoughtless enough to heed the siren call of “PURE” and again let in Elsevier’s latest Trojan Horse (instead of just coupling CRIS functionality with their IRs) then (as in some other recent supremely foolish UK decisions) they will get exactly what’s coming to them.

See: Elsevier’s PURE: self-interest and exploitation

My instinct tells me wiser (sic) heads will prevail (but I’ve been over-optimistic before…)

Stevan Harnad
Erstwhile Archivangelist Seconded to Higher Calling

Institutional vs Institution-External Deposit, Yet Again…

The scaleable, sustainable solution for global OA is for each author’s own mandated institutional repository to be the designated locus of deposit for all published articles. These can of course also be exported to any other locus desired (actually only the link need be exported, once metadata interoperability is ensured).

Arxiv depositors will of course be able to keep on depositing directly in Arxiv as long as they wish. Why not? They were, after all, among the first wave of OA providers, and have been faithfully doing it for decades, unmandated. Their Arxiv deposits can instead be harvested back to their institutions instead of trying to make these heroic depositors change their long-standing and progressive habits because other disciplines didn’t have the sense to do it unmandated,

But it remains true that today most papers (across all disciplines) are not being deposited in Arxiv, nor in institutional repositories, nor deposited anywhere within the first year of publication. Mandates from institutions and funders will remedy that.

But for mandates to be effective, they must demand minimal effort from authors and institutions, and it must be possible to monitor and ensure compliance.

The simplest and surest way to monitor and ensure compliance is for both institutions and funders to require convergent deposit in the author’s institutional repository. That covers all papers, funded and and unfunded (except the tiny minority by institutionally unaffiliated authors, who can deposit directly in institution-external repositories),

On the web, distributed locus of deposit does not “fragment the literature.” No one deposits directly in google; google harvests. Google currently inverts all data and still has the best search functionality.

Once enough of the OA corpus is deposited in institutional repositories (IRs) to make it worthwhile bothering, it will be a piece of cake for an enterprising grad student to write the harvest and search code across the global network of OA IRs, and generations of grad students will continue optimizing these tools beyond even the imagination of today’s sluggish, non-depositing scholarly and scientific researcher community…

Orban and the Odor of Olives

Hungary Offers Olive Branch to U.S.Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2015

That?s rather rich:

1. The US government denies entry to high Hungarian officials, including the head of the Hungarian IRS, a personal friend of the prime minister, Viktor Orban, for corruption (e.g., what amounts to demanding bribes from US companies for doing business in Hungary).

2. Orban (who calls all the shots in what he calls his ?illiberal state?), instead of honestly and transparently investigating the corruption charges, demands that the US goverrnment do the investigation and provide the evidence, accuses the US of trying to manipulate Hungary for US purposes, and publicly orders the head of the Hungarian IRS to sue the American embassy chargeé d?affaires (the US messenger) for defamation, or be fired from her job.

3. And now Orban extends an ?olive branch?: ?Let?s let bygones be bygones. Forget these corruption charges. Back to business as usual.?

There is something profoundly rotten going on in Hungary these days. Media control and other shenanigans have so far prevented the electorate from smelling it, for two terms, but by now the stench is becoming overwhelming internationally, and it?s even beginning to get through to the noses of the Hungarian citizenry, who have been demonstarting nonviolently in growing numbers for Orban?s ouster.

Orban, with his US ?olive branch? in one hand, has publicly floated threats to amend the lawshttp://openaccess.eprints.org/ of public assembly to put an end to this public unrest as part of a ?national defence plan? to protect Hungary from the foreign forces fomenting these expressions of dissatisfaction from his unruly citizenry.

Go figure.

Peer-Review, Access-Locus and Citation

Comment on: Lemire, Daniel (2014) Though unrefereed, arXiv has a better h-index than most journals?


Arxiv includes both unrefereed and refereed versions of papers.

Distinguish citation from access-date (early access) and access-locus.

Peer-reviewed publication is not the same thing as (or not only) access-provision:

Journals provide both peer review and access (to subscribers only, if journal is subscription-based).

Repositories provide access (to peer-reviewed journal articles and sometimes to earlier unrefereed drafts).

Hence repositories do not have citation counts or h-indexes: just access-locus statistics; their citation counts are parasitic on journal citation counts (and especially journal peer review).

Users access whatever version they can access, but they cite the journal article (the canonical, archival “version of record”).

The only exception is unrefereed drafts — but even there, it is the author’s draft that is being cited; the repository is just the access-locus:

Unrefereed drafts used to be cited as “name, title, unpublished (or ‘in prep’)” and refereed, accepted drafts used to be cited as “name, title, journal, in press).”

Adding an OA access-locus to the journal citation is becoming an increasingly common (and desirable) scholarly practice, but it does not change the fact that what is being cited is the work, and the canonical version of the work is the refereed, published version-of-record, regardless of access-locus.

Hence repositories do not have citation counts; they just have access-locus (download) counts.

(Some interesting statistics can, however, be done on the citation of unrefereed vs refereed versions, i.e., early access.)

Be Sensible: Don’t Fall for Publisher Pseudo-Legal Double-Talk and Bogus Pseudo-Distinctions

Taylor & Francis Green OA Self-Archiving Policy is just fine for OA needs:

3.2 Retained rights

In assigning Taylor & Francis or the journal proprietor copyright, or granting an exclusive license to publish, you retain:

the right to post your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) on your departmental or personal website at any point after publication of your article.

As for the later hedge:

Embargoes apply? if you are posting the AAM to an institutional or subject repository.

Ignore this completely.

The author?s institutional repository is the author?s institutional website. Period.

Authors and institutions: Please don?t prolong the needless, empty, pseudo-legal nonsense and subterfuge that has been holding back OA for decades. Ignore this phoney, groundless distinction and self-archive your final draft in your IR immediately upon acceptance (as HEFCE/REF2020 & EC/Horizon2020 require), and make it OA immediately.

Your Wizened & Weary Archivangelist

BiorXiv: Deposit Institutionally, Export Centrally

Physicists have been spontaneously self-archiving in Arxiv since 1991, but most other disciplines have not followed suit, despite the demonstrated benefits of providing open access in terms of research uptake, usage and impact.

It is for this reason that research funders and institutions worldwide are (at last) beginning to mandate (i.e., require) that their fundees and faculty self-archive.

For open access mandates to work, however, it has to be possible to systematically monitor and verify compliance.

Not all research is funded (and there are many different research funders); but virtually all research comes from institutions (universities and research institutes), most of which now have institutional repositories for their researchers to self-archive in.

Institutions are hence the natural (and eager) partners best placed to fulfill the all-important role of monitoring and ensuring compliance with the requirements of their own researchers’ grant requirements, via their own institutional repositories. (This also gives institutions the incentive to adopt open access self-archiving mandates of their own, for all their research output, funded and unfunded, in all disciplines.)

Researchers, in turn, should only need to deposit their articles once, institutionally — not willy-nilly, and multiply, in diverse institution-external repositories.

The solution is simple, since all open access repositories are interoperable, meaning they share the same core metadata-tagging system, and hence each institution’s repository software can automatically export its metadata to any other institution-external repository desired.

That way researchers need only deposit once, in their own institutional repository; institutional and funder open access mandates are convergent and cooperative rather than divergent and competitive; and mandate compliance can be reliably and systematically ensured by the author’s institution.

So Biorxiv is a welcome addition to the growing list of disciplinary repositories for centralized search and retrieval, but deposit in Biorxiv should not be direct: researchers should export to it from their institutional repositories. (Biorxiv can also harvest from institutional repositories, just as Google and Google Scholar do.)

Biologists and biomedical scientists, unlike physicists, do not have a culture of spontaneous self-archiving. Hence open access mandates from funders and institutions are needed if there is to be open access to their research. And those mandates have to be readily complied with; and compliance has to be readily verifiable.

So let us not lose another quarter century hoping that biologists will at last do, of their own accord, what Arxiv users have already been doing, unmandated, since 1991. In 1994 there was already a “Subversive Proposal” — unheeded — that all disciplines should do as the Arxivers had done. Harold Varmus made a similar proposal (“e-biomed”) in 1999, likewise unheeded.

Let us start getting it right in 2013, the year that funders in the US, EU and UK have begun concertedly mandating open access, along with a growing number of institutions worldwide. But let us harmonize the mandates, to ensure that they work:

Arxiv has certainly earned the right to remain the sole exception, insofar as direct deposit is concerned, being the only institution-external repository in which authors have already been faithfully self-archiving, unmandated, for almost a quarter century:

For Arxiv, institutional repositories can import instead of export. But for the rest: Deposit institutionally, export centrally.

1st-Party Give-Aways Vs. 3rd-Party Rip-Offs

If supplying eprints to requesters could be delegated to 3rd parties like Repository Managers to perform automatically, then they would become violations of copyright contracts.

What makes the eprint-request Button legal is the fact that it is the author who decides, in each individual instance, whether or not to comply with an individual eprint request for his own work; it does not happen automatically.

Think about it: If it were just the fact of requesters having to do two keystrokes for access instead of just one (OA), then the compliance keystroke might as well have been done by software rather than the Repository Manager! And that would certainly not be compliance with a publisher OA embargo. “Almost OA” would just become 2-stroke OA.

No. What makes the eprint-request Button both legal and subversive is that it is not 3rd-party piracy (by either a Repository Manager or an automatic computer programme) but 1st-party provision of individual copies, to individual requesters, for research purposes, by the author, in each individual instance: the latter alone continues the long accepted tradition of reprint-provision by scholars and scientists to their own work.

If reprint-request cards had been mailed instead to 3rd-parties who simply photocopied anyone’s articles and mailed them to requesters (with or without a fee) the practice would have been attacked in the courts by publishers as piracy long ago.

The best way to undermine the Button as a remedy against publisher OA mandates, and to empower the publishing lobby to block it, would be to conflate it with 2-stroke 3rd-party OA!

That practice should never be recommended.

Rather, make crystal clear the fundamental difference between 1st-party give-away and 3rd-party rip-off.

[Parenthetically: Of course it is true that all these legal and technical distinctions are trivial nonsense! It is an ineluctable fact that the online PostGutenberg medium has made technically and economically possible and easily feasible what was technically and economically impossible in the Gutenberg medium: to make all refereed research articles — each, without exception, an author give-away, written purely for research impact rather than royalty income — immediately accessible to all would-be users, not just to subscribers: OA. That outcome is both optimal and inevitable for research; researchers; their institutions; their funders; the R&D industry; students; teachers; journalists; the developing world; access-denied scholars and scientists; the general public; research uptake, productivity, impact and progress; and the tax-payers who fund the research. The only parties with whose interests that optimal outcome is in conflict are the refereed-research publishers who had been providing an essential service to research in the Gutenberg era. It is that publishing “tail” that is now trying to wag the research “dog,” to deter and delay what is optimal and inevitable for research for as long as possible, by invoking Gutenberg-era pseudo-legal pseudo-technicalities to try to embargo OA, by holding it hostage to their accustomed revenue streams and modus operandi. OA mandates, the immediate-deposit clause, and the eprint-request Button are the research community’s means of mooting these delay tactics and hastening the natural evolution to the optimal and inevitable outcome in the PostGutenberg era.]

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Double-Clicking Instead of Double-Paying

Jack Stilgoe (“Open Access Inaction,” Guardian 18 June 2013) has the indignation but not the information:

1. UCL has a Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate:

In May 2009, UCL Academic Board agreed two principles to underpin UCL?s publication activity and to support its scholarly mission:

— That, copyright permissions allowing, a copy of all research outputs should be deposited in the UCL repository in Open Access

— That individual UCL academic researchers should be directly responsible for providing and maintaining details of their publications in relevant UCL databases so as to support both Open Access and the requirement for UCL to keep an accurate record of its research outputs

UCL, therefore, has a ?Green? Open Access policy, by which copies of UCL research are deposited in UCL Discovery, UCL?s Open Access repository. This UCL policy informs UCL?s approach to the open access requirements of research funders.

2. Elsevier’s self-archiving policy is “Green,” meaning all Elsevier authors retain the right to make their final, refereed drafts OA immediately (without embargo) by self-archiving them in their institutional repository.

3. The Elsevier self-archiving policy contains double-talk to the effect that “authors may self-archive without embargo if they wish but not if they must”:

“Accepted author manuscripts (AAM): Immediate posting and dissemination of AAM?s is allowed to personal websites, to institutional repositories, or to arXiv. However, if your institution has an open access policy or mandate that requires you to post, Elsevier requires an agreement to be in place which respects the journal-specific embargo periods.”

The “agreement” in question is not with the author, but with the author’s institution. Unless UCL has been foolish enough to sign such an agreement (in order to get a better deal on Elsevier subscription prices), authors can of course completely ignore this absurd clause.

4. Even if UCL has foolishly signed such an agreement with Elsevier, the refereed final draft can nevertheless be deposited immediately, with access set as Closed Access instead of Open Access during the embargo. During that period, the UCL repository’s facilitated eprint request Button can provide Almost-OA almost-instantly with one click from the requester and then one click from the author.

5. Surely even double-clicking is preferable to double-paying Elsevier (subscription plus Gold OA fees), as RCUK/Finch foolishly prefers? Even if “robust knowledge is expensive to curate” (which is false) surely it needn’t be that expensive…

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

More Fallout From Finch Folly: Springer Silliness

On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM, Didier Pélaprat wrote on GOAL:

Springer, which defined itself some months ago as a “green publisher” in an advertisement meeting to which they invited us (they call that “information” meeting) and did not ask any embargo for institutional open repositories (there was only an embargo for the repositories of funders with a mandate), now changed its policy (they call this a “new wording“) with a 12-month embargo for all Open repositories.

This is now displayed in Sherpa/Romeo. It was stated that this new policy was settled “in reaction to the US, Europe and RCUK policy”.

I figured out that this would make some “buzz”, but for the moment I did not see any reaction. Did you hear of one?



No buzz, because the change is inconsequential:

Authors may self-archive the author?s accepted manuscript of their articles on their own websites. Authors may also deposit this version of the article in any repository, provided it is only made publicly available 12 months after official publication or later.”

1. There is no difference between the authors’ “own websites” and their own institution’s “repository.”

Authors’ websites are sectors of their own institution’s diskspace, and their institutional repository is a sector of their own institution’s diskspace. Way back in 2003 U. Southampton had already laid this nonsensical pseudo-legal distinction to rest pre-emptively by formally declaring their authors’ sector of their institutional repository their personal website:

3e. Copyright agreements may state that eprints can be archived on your personal homepage. As far as publishers are concerned, the EPrint Archive is a part of the Department’s infrastructure for your personal homepage.

2. As to institution-external OA repositories, many green publishers try to forbid them, but this too is futile nonsense: External repositories can simply link to the full-text in the institutional repository.

Indeed this has always been the main reason I have been strongly advocating for years that self-archiving mandates should always stipulate institutional deposit rather than institution-external deposit. (Springer or any publisher has delusions, however, if they think any of their pseudo-legal double-talk can get physicists who have been self-archiving directly in Arxiv for over two decades to change their ways!)

3. But, yes, Finch/RCUK’s persistence in its foolish, thoughtless and heedless policy is indeed having its perverse consequences, exactly as predicted, in the form of more and more of this formalistic FUD from publishers regarding Green OA embargoes.

Fortunately, HEFCE/REF has taken heed. If their proposed immediate-(institutional)-deposit mandate is adopted, not only is all this publisher FUD mooted, but it increases the likelihood that other OA mandates. too, will be upgraded to HEFCE’s date-stamped immediate-deposit as the mechanism for submitting articles to institutional research performance review or national research assessment.

4. If a publisher says you may self-archive without embargo if you do it voluntarily, but not if your funder requires you to do it: Do it, and, if ever asked, say, hand on heart, “I did it voluntarily.”

This ploy, which Springer too seems to have borrowed from Elsevier, consisting of pseudo-legal double-talk implying that
“you may deposit immediately if you needn’t, but not if you must” is pure FUD and can and should be completely ignored. (Any author foolish enough to be taken in by such double-talk deserves all the needless usage and impact losses they will get!)

If there’s to be “buzz,” let the facts and contingencies at least be got straight!


Off-line query from [identity removed]:

“This email expresses my current confusion about green open access and Springer. Forgive my concreteness, but I don?t ?get it.? I now self-archive my publications on sites such as ResearchGate and academia.edu.

“I simply don?t understand the Springer mandate! Can you refer me to some text somewhere which expresses all of this in really plain English?”

Springer says you can self-archive your final, refereed draft on your own website (which includes your institutional repository) immediately, without embargo.

Springer also says that in institution-external repositories you can only deposit it after a 12-month embargo.

This means, technically and formally, that ResearchGate or academia.edu can link to the full text in the institutional repository, but they cannot host the full text itself till after the 12-month embargo.

(In principle, RG/AE could also link to the Closed Access deposit during the embargo, thereby enhancing the scope of the institutional repository’s eprint-request Button.)

But the practical fact is that there’s nothing much that Springer or anyone can do about authors sharing their own papers before the embargo elapses through social sharing sites like RG or AE or others. Publishers’ only recourse is send individual take-down notices to RG/AE, with which RG/AE can duly comply — only to have the authors put them right back up again soon after.

OA is unstoppable, if authors want it, and they do. They’re all just being too slow about realizing it, and doing it (as the computer scientists and physicists saw and did 20 years ago, no questions asked).

That’s why the OA mandates are needed. And they’re coming…