Re: Prospects for institutional e-print repositories study

From: J.W.T.Smith <J.W.T.Smith_at_KENT.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 17:26:55 +0100


This has suddenly appeared on LIS-ELIB and so I haven't seen the earlier
exchanges. However I do feel moved to reply to your comments.

On Tue, 15 Jul 2003, Philip Hunter wrote:

> Stevan,
> > The pressing worry today (and it is a worry of the research community)
> > is *access* (and *impact*), not preservation. The solution is
> > to self-archive the supplementary versions, not to re-duplicate the
> > preservation problem of the primary corpus, for a still near-non-existent
> > secondary incarnation!
> I think perhaps the JISC community and the digital library community
> might consider preservation of the primary corpus (as you put it) as a
> quite separate issue. I hadn't quite taken on board that you accord
> self-archived items a secondary and purely short-term functionality.

I don't think Stevan would say self-archiving is "purely short-term" but
that the main purpose is to make research results available to those who
can make use of them as quickly as possible.

> > Start worry about the preservation of the supplementary corpus only if
> > and when it looks as if it might become the primary corpus. It can't
> > even dream of doing that until it at least exists!
> It could be that it scarcely exists because the real issues for the
> research community are being ignored, which is that eprints need to have
> as much of the value and properties associated with paper documents as
> possible, if researchers are to feel the effort of 'deposit' is
> worthwhile.

The effort of "deposit" is almost zero compared to effort of getting an
article into a refereed journal. It is paid for many times over by the
average increase in citations to papers available online.

It is clear you are confusing eprints with articles in refereed journals.
Currently they do not play the same role and neither are they intended to
play the same role. Eprints are about communicating information to other
researchers and refereed articles are about gaining formal recognition for
the work done. Refereed articles are also likely to be 'archived' in the
formal sense.

> It seems that your solution is to persuade the researchers
> that 'deposit' equals 'access', and that 'access' is enough.

In terms of communication, access is enough.

> Where does long term citation come into this?

Long term citation is irrelevant to current communication.

> A number of items you
> reference in your mails live in a 'temp' directory, which means
> researchers would be unwise to reference papers in that directory. This
> has to reduce the impact of your own work, and it is puzzling to see you
> make papers available in this way.

No doubt Stevan will one day put them somewhere more permanent if he feels
they are worthwhile and there they will be indexed by the search engines
and so anyone sufficiently interested will be able to find them. Does it
matter where they are as long as they can be found?

> Preservation is a legitimate concern
> of researchers considering the self-archiving route.

Again you have missed the point - the purpose of self-archiving is
communication not preservation. You are thinking with the paper
publication model where the refereed article played all the roles required
by researchers, it communicated, it quality controlled, it was archived,
etc. Today these roles are falling apart, the eprint communicates, the
refereed version quality controls, the online search services (including
the RDN gateways/portals) enable finding, etc.

My own suggested model, the Deconstructed Journal

shows one way in which all the roles of the refereed journal could be
distributed over many cooperating actors.

Incidentally - this article shows the power of making papers available
online - it has been accessed several thousand times - at least 10 if not
a 100 times as many as have probably read the paper version.


John Smith.
Received on Tue Jul 15 2003 - 17:26:55 BST

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