Re: The self-archiving sweepstakes

From: Tom Abeles <>
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 15:37:18 +0000

Harnad's observation is interesting if the prime reason for publishing
were to share with colleagues. Unfortunately this ideal gets distorted by
the myriad of reasons to publish or even not to publish, regardless of the
disciplines. And, as an aside, the reasons can vary across disciplines,
institutions and faculty. Aye, there's the rub.

As Harnad points out, the technical achievements may not be the barrier
at hand, nor may it be entirely the problems with the publishers.

Perhaps some of the issues come to light when one reads the article,
Taking on Rational Man, which appeared in the January 24th issue of The
Chronicle of Higher Education where the battle lines are drawn between
neoclassical economists and heterodox thinking- and who controls the
publishing resources.


tom abeles

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> On Thu, 6 Feb 2003, Tim Brody wrote:
> > It would be good to see the success (or not) of projects judged by how much
> > *content* they expose, rather than technical achievements. In this respect I
> > believe Europe is lagging far behind the US -, LoC & OCLC dwarf
> > most of the other repositories out there. This is a failure to convince
> > those who control the content that open access is a Good Thing - a challenge
> > far greater than preservation, metadata formats, or any other technical
> > issue.
> My very talented and productive colleague Tim Brody is quite right that
> -- insofar as the self-archiving branch of the open-access movement is
> concerned -- the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd priority is content, content, content,
> and that hence we are all spinning our wheels if we focus instead on
> technical features that are putatively missing and hypothetically needed
> before we can turn to content, content, content: Both Eprints and Dspace
> have *all* the essential features needed for self-archiving, so that their
> users can now proceed to self-archive at full speed, and any further delay
> because of feature-fussing will -- I am ready to stake all of my credibility
> on this -- be seen historically as having been an utter waste of time,
> at a time when the real need was, in hindsight, so obviously
> and overwhelmingly content, content, content.
> But we're not talking about just *any* content. Self-archiving and
> open-access are not about *all* digital content. So Tim's remark about
> Europe's lagging is comparing apples and oranges:
> The open-access movement (BOAI )
> -- including both its branches, BOAI-1, self-archiving, and BOAI-2,
> open-access journals -- is not about digital content in general:
> "The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which
> scholars give to the world without expectation of payment. Primarily,
> this category encompasses their peer-reviewed journal articles, but
> it also includes any unreviewed preprints that they might wish to
> put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research
> findings."
> Hence in Tim's Europe/US comparison, LoC and OCLC are completely
> irrelevant! They don't belong in the list. They are concerned with *all*
> digital contents, not peer-reviewed research preprints and postprints
> in particular.
> ArXiv ( is indeed the biggest OAI-compliant
> self-archiving Archive on the planet -- but it is also only *one* such
> archive, the first of its kind, up since 1991, growing since then at the
> same unchanging linear rate,
> and consisting mainly of physics and mathematics content. Most important,
> ArXiv is mirrored all over the world -- --
> and being self-archived in by physicists and mathematicians all over
> the world! Hence it can hardly be described as an example of Europe
> lagging behind the US in content!
> So what (if anything) is the relevant point of comparison between
> Europe and the US? One possible one (though I don't think the exercise
> would be terribly illuminating) would be to look at the archives in
> OAIster -- -- with 1,089,937
> records from 142 institutions -- and (1) either count the number of
> records by European vs. US authors or (2) (perhaps more interestingly),
> set aside the central, international archives in it, like ArXiv, and
> count only the university archives: How many are European and how many
> American? And how do they compare in average content-size?
> (And don't forget to compare also with counts from BOAI-2: open-access
> journals.)
> But before drawing any conclusions from that, remember to normalize it
> for the relative size of the research output of the two geographic
> contenders!
> Moral of the story? Leave it to the historians to calculate whether
> Europe or the US happened to be leading in open acces in early 2003,
> and concentrate instead on accelerating self-archiving (and open-access
> in general) as soon and as much as possible, wherever you are: content,
> content, content.
> Amen.
> Stevan Harnad
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Received on Fri Feb 07 2003 - 15:37:18 GMT

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