Preserving publications

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 20:14:39 +0000

Concerns have been expressed about preservation of eprints stored
in institutional archives, e.g. see this JISC study Feasibility and
requirements study on preservation of e-prints
which led to this paper in D-Lib The Digital Preservation of e-Prints

With regard to institutional eprints Stevan Harnad has noted:

>There is a confusing and misleading emphasis on preservation. Yes,
>of course it is good to preserve these self-archived materials, and
>they can and will be preserved (ArXiv has been online and cumulating
>continuously since 1991); but the substantive issue here is *access*
>not preservation! The real preservation problem is for the publishers'
>primary toll-access version, online and on-paper. These self-archived
>eprints are merely *supplements* to that, publicly archived so as to
>maximise access to them, right now. They are not *substitutes* for the
>primary publishers' version. It is a mistake to overstress this
>access supplement as if it were *the* primary preservation corpus.

In this context there may be some interest in the announcement on Friday
October 31 that the UK Government passed the Legal Deposit Act extending to
digital publications. The actual Act is at
and the British Library press release is at

It is also worth noting the comments of Anthony Watkinson, a publisher with
experience of these processes:

>It is probable that the statutory
>instruments next year will start with off-line but on-line will follow quite
>soon and (although web-site sampling is part of the picture) it is scholarly
>e-journals that are of main interest i.e. publications. To my mind e-only
>journals are the most important though the normative e-version of journals
>available in print also are diverging from print and thus become more
>important to preserve.

There are still some practical issues to resolve, not least because the
Government department involved only revealed the draft very late in the day
"to the fury and exasperation of the library and publishing sectors",
relating to omissions in earlier readings

But the thrust of the bill towards publications is clear.

Steve Hitchcock
IAM Group, School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865
Received on Tue Nov 11 2003 - 20:14:39 GMT

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