Re: Draft Policy for Self-Archiving University Research Output

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 04:20:43 +0000

On Fri, 10 Jan 2003, Steve Hitchcock wrote:

> I'm surprised by some issues that have emerged from this thread, such as
> which 'institution' authors should, or might want to, affiliate with in
> terms of presenting their work. This is hardly a moot point. Since we are
> concerned with *institutional* self-archiving, this is a pretty critical
> point, and in most cases it is not difficult.

Not difficult at all: Self-archive your *current* work in your *current*
institutional OAI-compliant Eprint Archive. If/when you change institutions,
you can self-archive it at your new institution too, or just keep the
prior link in your updated online CV. Your CV links to all of your
refereed publications, wherever they may happen to reside. Your CV
indicates who you are, who your current employer is, what your past
publications were (and where they are) and who your employer at the
time was. By now, with harvesting, mirroring, backups and caching,
your papers will be all over the map anyway. OAI-interoperability,
distributed archiving, OAI harvesters and OAI search-engines will keep
track. Such is the nature of PostGutenberg archiving.

> So what is at issue is not the right of the author's institution to assert
> copyright, but its right to present the work (including the postprint: the
> corrigenda approach should be left to past works where copyright has been
> assigned to an unhelpful publisher) in an archive. Or, to put it more
> bluntly, the institution's right to compel self-archiving by authors in its
> archive(s).

You as author have the right to self-archive your research output. Your
institution assesses your research output, and you both benefit from
maximizing its access and impact. Your institution certainly has the right
to mandate that you exercise your right to self-archive (just as it has
the right to mandate that you publish or perish). Self-archiving the
refereed postprint is the preferred practise; self-archiving the preprint
plus corrigenda is available as an alternative where needed ("unhelpful
p;ublisher"). (The preprint plus corrigenda strategy only works for
current work and thereafter; too late for the legacy work, but once all
current work is open-access, adding the legacy work will be less of a
problem, as it is not a significant revenue source.)

> This is extreme, but the opposite of Stevan's too liberal approach which is
> to allow authors to publish, first and foremost, where they wish. We need
> to find an acceptable point on this spectrum, but if this is about
> institutional archiving, let the institutions take some initiatives. I can
> see self-archiving spreading far faster if some enlightened institutions
> take the lead than if it is left to authors.

I'm not sure what you mean. If we have to wait for institutions to do
still more things first (lay claim to copyright?) before we self-archive,
then we are talking about more waiting rather than about taking the
lead. If we are talking about mandating publishing in this journal rather
than in that journal, then we are not only talking about a still longer
wait, but a needless conflict between the institution and its researchers,
about dictating where the author may publish his work. A bad idea.

How about if we just go ahead and self-archive all current research output
(and mandate it)? And continue to publish it wherever we wish.

> So in principle I support Sol Picciotto's idea, with provisos that have
> been identified below. Certainly institutions must do more than Mark Doyle
> wants, despite the good work APS is doing, which is for publishers to
> 'grant back to authors all of the rights they expect'. On this issue,
> institutions must lead, not follow.

The reality right now is that no one is yet doing much of anything at
all, even though self-archiving, legally, is within every researcher's
(and their institution's) reach, right now, as 12 years of doing just that
by the physicists has amply demonstrated. I would hardly call it "taking the
lead" to recommend first heading off in some other direction at
this time (trying to change university copyright policies, trying to
persuade authors to publish in journals they'd rather not publish in)
when the self-archiving route is already at hand, unobstructed, and
need merely be *taken*.. Yes, mandate preprint archiving right now,
plus postprint wherever possible, corrigenda wherever not. But please,
let's not recommend still further delays and distractions: We've had
far more than our share of those already!


Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Jan 10 2003 - 04:20:43 GMT

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