Authors Lacking OA Institutional Repository: Deposit In DEPOT International

To coincide with the start of Open Access week, EDINA (a JISC UK-national academic data centre based at the University of Edinburgh) is pleased to announce that the Depot has been opened up internationally. Building upon its initial role given to it by JISC, the Depot is now being opened up into a facility to support the Open Access agenda internationally.

The Depot is an assured gateway to make research Open Access – we provide two main services:

1. a deposit service for researchers worldwide without an institutional repository in which to deposit their papers, articles, and book chapters (e-prints).

2. a re-direct service which alerts depositors to more appropriate local services if they exist.

The first time a researcher visits the Depot we will automatically check with OpenDOAR, the registry for open access repositories, to find a more appropriate local repository. If none exists then the author will be invited to deposit their research in the Depot. The Depot is OAI-compliant allowing deposited e-prints to be ‘harvested’ by search services, and other repositories, giving them instant global visibility.

For the present you can find the Depot at but working with eIFL-OA we hope to provide a more international URL to denote its new role.

Warm regards, Theo (on behalf of the Depot team)

Theo Andrew
Edinburgh University Library
& EDINA National Data Centre
Tel: 0131 651 3850 (Mon-Weds)
0131 6502913 (Thu – Fri)

A tale of two medical students

Sunil Bhopal and Rossetta Cole, Access to information for medical students – Sierra Leone, Healthcare Information For All by 2015, October 28, 2009.

We are two medical students from the UK (Sunil Bhopal, University of Leeds) and Sierra Leone (Rossetta Cole, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Freetown). We are trained in a similar manner, first in lectures and other formal teaching arrangements in a university, and then by spending more and more time in hospitals until we emerge finally as junior doctors ready to tackle the next hurdle. We met when I (Sunil) spent a month on medical elective in Freetown.

The starkest difference in our education has been in access to information. While in Leeds I (Sunil) have access to thousands of books through the university library, hundreds of journals in print and online and am a mere (university funded) bus ride away from a copyright library containing everything ever printed in the UK, in Freetown I (Rossetta) have had to make do with 20 year old donated textbooks, no paper journals, and access to HINARI online journals once (through a local internet cafe) over the 6 year course.

The issue of accessing information is a particular problem in Sierra Leone where there is no bookshop selling new books, and no medical text book importer. …

Open access roundup

OA Week commentary and outreach, part 1

A taste of comments and activities from Open Access Week:

P.S. The crush of OA Week overwhelmed my usual triage processes, so I’m still digging out. Thanks for your patience.

OA Week announcements, part 4

Follow-ups and additional news announced for Open Access Week:

JISC Podcast Interview with Robert Darnton About Harvard’s Open Access Mandates

Professor Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard has done a JISC podcast interview about Harvard’s historic success in achieving faculty consensus on the adoption of an Open Access (OA) mandate in a number of Harvard’s faculties.

Professor Darnton’s podcast is highly recommended. Just a few (minor) points of clarification:

1. Public Access. Although worldwide public access to universities’ refereed research output is a desirable and welcome side-benefit of OA and OA mandates, a lot of research is, as Prof. Darnton points out, “esoteric,” intended for and of direct interest only to specialists. It is the scholarly and scientific research progress that this maximized peer-to-peer access makes possible that confers the primary public benefit of OA. Pubic access and student/teacher access are secondary bonuses.

2. NIH Compliance Rate. Prof. Darnton referred to the very low (4%) rate of compliance with the NIH public access policy: That figure refers to the compliance rate during the first two years, when the NIH policy was merely a request and not a requirement. Once the NIH policy was upgraded to a mandate, similar to Harvard’s, the compliance rate rose to 60% and is still climbing. (Achieving consensus on mandate adoption and achieving compliance with mandate requirements are not the same issue; nor is the question of which mandate to adopt.)

3. Covering Gold OA Publication Fees. As Prof. Darnton notes, the Harvard mandate (a “Green OA” mandate for Harvard authors to deposit — in Harvard’s OA Institutional Repository — all their peer-reviewed final drafts of articles, published in any journal, whether a conventional subscription journal or a “Gold OA” journal) is about providing OA to Harvard’s research output today, not about converting journals to Gold OA — although Prof. Darnton anticipates that in perhaps a decade this may happen too. He and Professor Stuart Shieber, the architect of Harvard’s successful consensus on adoption, both feel that it helps win author consensus and compliance — to reassure those authors who may be worried about the future viability of their preferred journals — to make some funds available to pay for Gold OA publication fees, should that be necessary. (This policy is just fine for a university, like Harvard, that has already mandated Green OA, but if Harvard’s example is to be followed, universities should make sure first to mandate Green, rather than only offering to subsidize Gold pre-emptively.)

4. Journal Article Output vs. Book Output. The Harvard OA mandate covers journal article output, not book output. It would of course be a welcome outcome if eventually OA mandates made it possible for universities to save money on journal subscriptions, which could then be used to purchase books. But it must be clearly understood that not only does the OA mandate not touch books, but the economics of book publication are very different from the economics of journal publication, so even an eventual universal transition to Gold OA journal publication does not entail a transition to Gold OA book publication.

5. Compliance Rate With Opt-Out Mandates. It is important to understand also that the compliance rate for OA mandates with opt-out options, like Harvard’s, compared to no-opt-out mandates is not yet known (or reported). (My own suggestion would still be that the best model for an OA mandate is the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access [ID/OA] mandate, which allows opt-out from OA, as the Harvard mandate does, but not from immediate deposit itself; ID/OA allows the institutional repository’s “email eprint request” button to tide over user access needs during any publisher embargo period by providing “Almost OA” to Closed-Access deposits [what Prof. Darnton called “dark” deposits] during any publisher embargo.)

6. Proxy Deposit By Publishers. It is splendid that Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication is providing help and support for Harvard authors in understanding and complying with Harvard’s mandate, including proxy depositing of papers on authors’ behalf. I am not so sure it is a good idea, though, to encourage the option of having the publisher do the Harvard author’s deposit by proxy on the author’s behalf (after an embargo of the publisher’s choosing) as a means of complying with the mandate. Best to keep that in the hands of the author and his own institutional assigns…

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

A national strategy on author funds?

Nicholas Joint, The “author pays” model of open access and UK-wide information strategy, Library Review, 2009. Only an abstract is OA, at least so far.

… [I]n March 2009 [Universities UK/Research Information Network] published guidance to research institutions, with recommendations on how to manage publishers’ open access fees at the local level. It was suggested (for example) that the process be managed by a pro or deputy vice chancellor, and that central budgets be established to which researchers could apply for funds to meet the costs of publication fees.

And since then, the JISC has circulated another survey which explores the possibility of taking this vision of arrangements for author pays open access one step further, with the JISC itself taking a national management role (One question asked: “If JISC Collections were to create a centrally administered open access publication fee service for UK Higher Education Institutions, would this be of benefit to your institution and what might be the potential advantages/problems?”). …

[I]t is not at all clear that the economics of ‘author pays’ open access are well enough understood to guarantee that the original aim of open access will be achieved by a large scale move towards a national APOA system in the UK. …

This does not mean that an attempt by a national coordinating body such as the UK’s JISC or UUK/RIN or any other group to push APOA arrangements forward as a matter of UK information strategy is a bad thing. …

[S]uch a development should not be misinterpreted as a definitive seal of approval for a proven open access model. Rather, a nationally coordinated move towards putting APOA on a proper footing would be a bold experiment, which, like all experiments, is capable of success or failure. …

[T]he final suggestion to be drawn from this discussion concerns the future of repository-based open access in the United Kingdom. Open access materials in UK repositories are in an under-developed and uncoordinated state, resembling the less than ideal situation in which APOA arrangements currently languish. If a nationally coordinated push to create a coherent APOA system is worth considering, would it not also be worth considering what a similar, enhanced, UK-wide programme for the development of repository-based open access materials would look like? …

See also our past post on the UUK/RIN report.