[OAI-eprints] Re: Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives

Stevan Harnad harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue, 18 Mar 2003 20:37:18 +0000 (GMT)

On Tue, 18 Mar 2003, Thomas Krichel wrote:

>sh> (1) Institutions can mandate self-archiving, disciplines cannot.
>   Cliff [Lynch] imagines that they can, but in practice, it will be tough.
>   You can not put a KGB officer in every academic's office!

You're on the wrong track. Self-archiving can and will be mandated by
researchers' instituitions by and for *exactly* the same reasons and
methods as publishing-or-perishing is mandated by institutions. No
KGB, just the simple carrot/stick career consequences of research and
research impact. Once the direct causal connection between access and
impact is shown and known -- e.g.,
http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/Articles/lawrence.html --
everyone will find it as natural that research institutions should
reward their researchers for maximizing the impact of their publishing
(by self-archiving it) as to maximize the publishing itself.

>sh> (2) Most disciplines do not have disciplinary OAI Archives at all.
>   Sure, but all have some ways to communicate informally, and many
>   have innovative channels. Sure, many of them stay small, but
>   there is no technical obstacle to a meaningful aggregation. 

Here is the point on which Thomas and I part ways (profoundly). I agree
completely that where papers have not yet been self-archived in
OAI-compliant Archives (whether institutional or disciplinary) it is
highly desirable to find, link, metadata-enhance or harvest any
discoverable online papers that already exist on arbitrary websites
webwide. This is the invaluable service Thomas's RePEc (Research
Papers in Economics) is performing for over 86,000 non-OAI papers that
would otherwise be very difficult to find and use http://repec.org/

But the objective of OAI-compliant institutional self-archiving (and
a systematic policy mandating it) is to get away as soon as possible
from having to resort to these makeshift solutions for arbitrary web
content. (Nor is any of this relevant to what I said, which is that most
disciplines do not have disciplinary OAI Archives at all, and disciplines
are in no position to mandate self-archiving, whereas institutions are.)

>sh> (5) OAI-interoperability guarantees that institutional and disciplinary
>sh> self-archiving are equivalent from the open-access point of view, but
>sh> aggregating institutional packages out of distributed disciplinary
>sh> OAI archives is harder (though it is not clear how much harder) than
>sh> aggregating disciplinary packages out of distributed institutional
>sh> OAI archives.
>   no, it is easier to construct feature-rich datasets out of 
>   disciplinary archives, because some of them will be prepared
>   with the specifics of an aggregator in mind.

I regret I couldn't follow the logic of this at all. First, there are
almost no disciplinary OAI archives. Second, makeshift measures with
arbitrary web content are exactly that: makeshift, interim measures.
Third, from the fact that "some" arbitrary content may happen to
have "some" desirable specific features, nothing whatsoever follows.
And fourth, whatever are the specific features desired, they can be
systematically included (and mandated) in the institutional OAI archives
(parametrized to fit each discipline). 

Aggregation is not the objective: Interoperable content is; and (mandated)
institutional OAI self-archiving is the most direct, fastest and surest
way to generate it.

Stevan Harnad