Re: Berlin-3 Open Access Conference, Southampton, Feb 28 - Mar 1 2005

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 18:38:34 EST

On Tue, 15 Feb 2005, Anthony Watkinson wrote:

> I find no evidence here that scholars particularly want to deposit their
> refereed research in institutional repositories.

Professor Watkinson is quite right to point out a historic puzzle here.
Let us itemise what we can be sure that scholars want, and then what they
appear either not to want -- or not to want enough to do until/unless

Scholars want:

(1) to do research
(2) to have their research articles read
(3) to have their research articles used
(4) to have their research articles cited
(5) to have as much research impact as they can
(6) to have access to the research articles of other scholars, for their
    own work


(7) to have employment, promotions, tenure, grants, prizes, prestige
(8) to publish their research articles (or perish)
(9) to have their research output and impact measured (and rewarded)

Scholars are willing:

(i) to seek access to research articles that are freely available on the web

(ii) to sign petitions (in their tens of thousands) to publishers to make
      access to the articles they publish freely available on the web
(iii) to publish in suitable Open Access journals, when they exist (5%)
(iv) to self-archive their own research articles so as to make them
      freely available on the web (15%)

Scholars have not yet wanted the above enough:

(o) to self-archive 100% of their articles to make them freely available
    on the web, thereby maximising their impact and its rewards

Only a historian of scholarship, science, and its institutions can tell us
when and how the universal "publish or perish" carrot/stick system came to
be adopted, but (human nature being what it is), we can assume that a good
deal less research would be done and reported if it were not rewarded. In
other words, we are already rewarding publishing, and penalizing
non-publishing, we are already weighting the rewards by reckoning in
research impact (rather than just doing raw bean counts), so it is hardly
a radical or unprecedented step to naturally extend this existing
carrot/stick system to include self-archiving as a means of maximising the
access to and the impact of research output -- in the joint interests of
researchers, their institutions, their funders, and their research.

These are the real causal considerations -- still not worked out in many
or most researchers' minds -- about whether they really do or don't
"particularly want to deposit their refereed research in institutional

The surveys of Swan & Brown, Hajjem, and De Beer are all confirming that
the token is at last beginning to drop, worldwide. Whether it first clinks
bottom for researchers or their employers and funders -- the purveyors of
the carrots and sticks -- is still an open question. But that the outcome,
100% OA, will be as optimal for science and scholarship as it is
inevitable, is a foregone conclusion.

> The various surveys by Key Perspectives are well known but the samples
> are small and not to my mind representative of any population except
> those who decided to fill in the questionnaires...

That's often the way it is with surveys. But unless Professor Watkinson
imagines that the direction of the self-selection bias was such as to
exclude those who were more knowledgeable and active in Open Access and
Self-Archiving, all the surveys show a consistent pattern of
uninformedness and non-archiving on the part of most of "those who decided
to fill in the questionnaires."

Yet most of those same uninformed, non-archiving respondents responded
that they felt a university self-archiving policy was necessary (75% in
the Hajjem UQaM study) and that they would self-archive *willingly* if
required by their employers of funders to do so (69% in the first Swan &
Brown international study, 79% in the latest replication, not yet

> I cannot understand why OA advocates still feel they have to pretend
> that the academic community is behind them in their endeavour

Perhaps the 3622 individuals and 302 organizations that have added their
names to the Budapest Open Access Initiative
and the 34,000 signatures to the PLoS Open Letter plus the growing number of
small surveys like the ones above will eventually start to make the token
begin to drop for Professor Watkinson too?

> Which institutional repositories have been set up as a result of calls
> from scholars and reseachers to provide OA? Why pretend that this is the
> case?

Here Professor Watkinson is again quite rightly (though perhaps unawares)
putting his finger again on the puzzle for future OA historians: Yes,
scholars and researchers are calling for OA in substantial numbers (see
above). They are willing to do the keystrokes required to fill out surveys
on it and to sign declarations and petitions for it. But they are not yet
willing to perform the few additional keystrokes required to actually
*provide* it, by self-archiving their own articles. They have not yet made
the causal connection. The token has not yet dropped. Perhaps it will drop
for their employers and funders first, and then they will do the
keystrokes (which they have already told as they would do willingly,
if/when required to do so!).

    "Re: The "big koan'" (May 2002)

    "A Keystroke Koan For Our Open Access Times" (Oct 2003)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Feb 17 2005 - 23:38:34 GMT

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