Re: PALS report and conference on Institutional Repositories

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 20:09:32 +0000

On Fri, 27 Feb 2004, Gherman, Paul M wrote:

> Institutional Repositories (IR's) are gaining good traction at many
> research universities, and I think it is time for the Open Access
> enthusiasts to take note and begin thinking about how both movements
> might work together.

One might have thought so a priori, and there may still be a possibility
of collaboration, but all indications so far are that the open-access (OA)
institutional self-archiving movement and the institutional-repository
movement are taking different paths -- or rather that the institutional
repository movement is taking at least 5 different paths, of which OA
self-archiving of authors' journal articles has so far received the least
systematic support and momentum from the institutional repository
movement (even though it can be argued that it is the most important
and urgent of the five):

    Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?

    The 5 distinct aims for institutional repositories are:

    I. (RES) self-archiving institutional research output (preprints,
    postprints and theses)

    II. (MAN) digital collection management (all kinds of digital content)

    III. (PRES) digital preservation (all kinds of digital content)

    IV. (TEACH) online teaching materials

    V. (EPUB) electronic publication (journals and books)

RES (I) has taken the back seat in all this, even though many of us
had first hoped it would gain momentum from it. The bottom line is that
institutions need specific, official and systematic open-access (OA)
provision policies for their research article output. Without such
policies, RES is simply lost in a much broader and in many ways
unrelated agenda (apart from the fact that the contents in question are
all digital!).

Please see the (soon to be released) Declaration of Institutional
Commitment to implementing the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the
Berlin Declaration and the WSIS Declaration:

> There has been a lot of discussion about how Open Access can support
> long-term preservation and access based on authors fees.

There is unfortunately a double conflation inherent in this: a conflation
of RES (I) with PRES (II), and then a conflation of both with OA Journal
publishing (a form of EPUB [V] in which costs are recovered by author
fees instead of access-tolls).

These are 3 very distinct things. RES is the self-archiving of articles
that are published in Toll Access (TA) journals. It is not intended to
take over the preservation burden from those TA journals that publish
them and those libraries that subscribe to them! It is just a means
of supplementing the primary TA versions of the articles with
supplementary OA versions for those would-be users whose institutions
cannot afford the TA tolls. It does not help bring this into focus
(or to bring it about) to conflate RES and PRES and subsume them under
"institutional repository" functions.

Similarly, articles that are made OA by publishing them in OA journals
(EPUB) are not the same as articles that are made OA by self-archiving
them (RES). The journals are usually not published by the author's own
institution, but by an independent TA or OA publisher (hence they have
nothing to do with institutional EPUB).

It will not help clarify and promote OA self-archiving for still-confused
and passive authors and institutions to subsume it under diverse
institutional repository functions, and especially not PRES and EPUB!

> IR's such as DSpace are designed first as preservation mediums,
> and it seems we ought to consider how we can use IR's as part of
> the architecture of a system of Open Access.

IR's that are designed as preservation mediums should be used for
preservation. But OA is not a digital preservation problem; it is an
access-provision problem. The solution to the institutional digital
preservation problem is an institutional policy of systematic
preservation. The solution to the access-provision problem is an
institutional policy of systematic self-archiving. The solution of one
of these problems will not solve the other, it will merely dilute it.

> I find faculty at Vanderbilt are far more interested in IR's than
> open access, and it may be a way to get their attention and buy-in
> to open access if they see a link to their home institution.

Vanderbilt faculty and interested in IR's for
what? Preservation? Preservation of what? Authors are not worrying
about the preservation of their published articles. (They assume their
publishers and libraries will keep taking care of that as they have
always done.)

What authors and their institutions need to understand insofar are OA
is concerned is that it is all about maximizing their research impact
by maximizing access to their research, by providing OA to it. It would
be splendid if authors began to think of their IR's as being for OA
provision, but that won't happen until institutions adopt an explicit
OA provision policy, making both its means and its ends crystal clear.
Touting IR's and preservation is not only not enough, it is an
orthogonal distraction!

> We need to make sure the two movements do not go down separate
> tracks.

On the contrary, we need to make sure the two movements (RES and PRES)
*do* go down separate tracks (though these tracks can both be housed in
the same IRs). But it's the specific tracks that need clear (and separate)
explanation and promotion, not the (vague) idea of an IR!

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Thu Mar 04 2004 - 20:09:32 GMT

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