Re: What exactly is the digital preservation problem?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 15:15:34 +0100

> One further important point to consider in this mandating would be the
> following: if authors and institutions in charge of OA depositories
> could come to an agreement that the copy kept in an OA archive can be
> cited with as much legitimacy as the version kept by journals, this
> would give authors even more incentives to depositing articles in the OA
> archives.

What is cited is the published article in the journal. That is:

    Date (if/when available)
    Volume/Pages (if/when available).

This is a matter of good scholarly practise and has nothing whatsoever
to do with access (OA) matters.

The URL(s) provided for *access* should be the institutional repository
plus the publisher's website (if/when available). The repository version
should also link to the publisher's version. Users with licensed access
to the publisher's version can access that version. Others can access the
institutionally self-archived version.

> The OA archives being under the stewardship of reputable
> institutions can guarantee the integrity, stability and preservation of
> articles at least as well as publishers. In fact, with regard to
> stability and preservation, they can probably do a better job.

The primary problem today is *access*, not preservation. Moreover, the primary
preservation burden is for the publisher's official version, whether on paper or
online, as it always was. The paper version is preserved by subscribing libraries
and deposit libraries. The same is beginning to be done by licensing libraries
and deposit libraries for the online versions, and some publishers are involved in
these preservation efforts too. There are problems there to solve, but they so far
have nothing at all to do with OA.

The self-archived authors' final drafts that RCUK is mandating
that its fundees self-archive are *supplements* to the official,
published version of record (paper and online), which is, to repeat,
the libraries'/publishers' version. The RCUK-mandated self-archived
drafts are not *substitutes* for the publisher's official version of
record. And the purpose of these self-archived supplements is to provide
immediate and continuing access for those who cannot afford access to the
publisher's official version of record -- not to serve as a preservation
mechanism for the official version of record (although the day may --
or may not -- one day come when they may be able to help with that too;
for now, please let's stay focussed on their immediate access function).

To support self-archiving, one must first understand what it's for.

Pertinent Prior Amsci Topic Threads:

    "OA Content Provision vs. OA Content Preservation" (began: Oct 2004)

    "What exactly is the digital preservation problem?" (began: Jan 2002)

    "The 'Library of Alexandria; Non-Problem" (began: Oct 1999)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Oct 13 2005 - 15:24:13 BST

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