Re: A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 02:21:39 +0100

On Wed, 22 Jun 2005, David Goodman wrote:

> If we were able to achieve both a network of discipline based repositories, and one
> of IRs (thus accommodating all preferences), would it not be better for the items to be
> mirrored, rather than just linked and harvested? The virtue of mirroring would
> be the provision of multiple copies as an automatic byproduct and immediately
> providing truly reliable archiving not under the control of a single institution.

Mirroring (and back-up, caching, and other valuable features) are not
an *or*, in place of linking and harvesting, they are an *and*, as a
safeguard, and for speed and efficiency.

> As for the rest of the NIH policy, it does have one really good feature that
> you did not mention. It would be very easy to improve on it next year.
> The embargo can be shortened, all the way to zero. The material can improve to
> the pdf's. The "requested," which is being read by all those with NIH grants as
> meaning "required, unless you want to gamble with your career" can change to "required."

One can always improve on a flawed policy. But meanwhile, the clock is
ticking, and valuable usage and impact are being needlessly lost, while
people do wait-and-see apologetics for a needlessly flawed policy -- and
one that runs the risk of being cloned and copied in its present flawed
form, just because of where it comes from. Not to mention the Publisher
Back-Sliding (like Nature's) that this flawed policy (inadvertently)
encourages, and continues to encourage as long as it remains in place,
thereby slowing things even further.

As I said, though, other, far better models are out there, and on the ascendant.

(And moving from authors' postprints to publishers' PDFs is not necessarily an

Stevan Harnad

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Received on Thu Jun 23 2005 - 02:21:39 BST

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