Re: CERN's historic role in OA

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 15:09:32 +0100

On Fri, 7 Apr 2006, Frederick Friend wrote:

> I would like to support CERN's approach on both repository deposit and OA
> journals for particle physics research. Their approach is absolutely right.
> On deposit in repositories they have good policies in place, they are
> flexible in the way in which they secure deposits, they are more successful
> than most other organizations in the level of repository deposit, and they
> are already active in encouraging other institutions to follow their
> example. It is difficult to see what more they could do to promote
> repository deposit.

A lot. In fact, everything, until it prevails globally, across
institutions and disciplines. (If anyone can't see what more they can
do to promote repository deposit, please have them contact me: I will
be glad make some suggestions!)

> Valuable though the repository content is, the large world-wide particle
> physics community still feels the need for the value added by high-prestige
> journals.

That is a non sequitur, I am afraid. The repository content is also the content of
the journals (high prestige -- and med/lo too). Self-archiving for over a decade
and a half by physicists has not changed that fact a bit. They all keep publishing,
and some of them self-archive (what they also publish).

The problem is those who don't yet self-archive.

> The best way to maximise that added value is through collaboration
> with existing high-quality journals in a move from subscription to OA,
> funded as part of the research process.

I regret that I must disagree very profoundly with Fred on this.

(1) Journal publication is proceeding apace. "Maximising its added
value" is not the pressing problem today. Maximising access to journal
articles (and thereby maximising their research impact) is the pressing
problem. And maximising self-archiving would be the solution (if we
pursued it fully, without digressing).

(2) The best way to maximise self-archiving is to self-archive, mandate
self-archiving, and promote and facilitate self-archiving and the
mandating of self-archiving -- not to change the topic to maximising the
"added value" of existing journals.

> CERN is leading this work on behalf
> of the community it serves, and as with repository deposit the approach
> taken by particle physicists could be followed by other subject communities.

The approach taken by particle physicists that needs (urgently) to be
followed by other communities is self-archiving (and, on CERN's example,
mandating self-archiving). Journal reform is another matter, far less
urgent, far less within immediate reach, far less advanced.

> Both repositories and OA journals bring benefits to academic research.

Yes, but the immediate, urgent and far from finished task is filling
OA repositories through OA self-archiving (green). OA journals (gold)
are the far slower and more uncertain road to 100% OA (and it is almost
certain that the fastest road to gold is itself green!).

My admiration for what CERN *has* done is enormous, but that does not diminish my
regret for what CERN has not done, and could do, to propagate its practice of
mandated self-archiving across institutions and disciplines. That is the real
urgent need at the moment, globally, not "maximising the value added by
existing journals" -- welcome, but non-urgent though that too is!

Stevan Harnad

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Joanne Yeomans" <Joanne.Yeomans_at_CERN.CH>
> Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 1:14 PM
> Subject: Re: CERN's historic role in OA
> Stevan,
> If only there were more than 24 hours in the day to fit more in!
> The missing papers are those that we discover through published
> journals. Neither the secretary, not the department, necessarily knows
> they exist until we find they're published.
> As you say, it's not important who does the keying in but the author
> needs to deliver the paper in the first place.
> One method to get them is to individually email each author and ask -
> that is a strategy we're investigating but is awaiting some technical
> developments. And this of course hinges on the author still having a
> copy they can send or more importantly, the author being bothered to
> comply. However, we hope this will be quite successful.
> Another strategy might be to report back to the department and tell them
> what's missing so they can themselves encourage their authors. Maybe a
> strongly enforced mandate in this case is enough, but it might also be
> backed up with some kind of incentive scheme, for instance, a small
> bonus (enough to send a student to a conference for instance) offered to
> departments who reach full coverage.
> OA publishing doesn't solve the problem at all - what I said was that
> the publishing project has generated interest beyond what we've
> experienced before and so this gives us an ear that we can use to
> highlight the need to self-archive too. The point is, for whatever
> reason, the scientists themselves, and the senior CERN management, are
> genuinely interested in the idea of OA publishing and in discussing this
> they also start to realise the importance of self-archiving.
> Stevan, I know you don't like our 'gold' work, but our influence over
> other institutions and disciplines is limited by many different factors.
> Already we try to do what we can and will continue to do so. The climate
> is ready in high energy physics to discuss and try a change to OA
> publishing, and if we miss the opportunity of the start up of the LHC
> experiment in 2007 then we will not have another chance for perhaps 20
> years. The time is right for us. Whether it will succeed is another
> question and one we will see in the next few years. At least we will
> learn some interesting things along the way..and in the meantime our
> repository development will go on.
> Joanne
> ********************
> Joanne Yeomans
> Office 3/1-012, DSU/SI Service
> Mail address:
> Mailbox C27810
> CERN CH 1211 Geneva 23
> Switzerland
> Tel: 70548 (externally dial +41 22 76 70548)
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Repositories discussion list
> > [mailto:JISC-REPOSITORIES_at_JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> > Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 1:29 PM
> > Subject: CERN's historic role in OA
> >
> > CERN is the biggest of the five institutions that have so far
> > adopted a mandatory OA self-archiving policy:
> >
> >
> > On Thu, 6 Apr 2006, Joanne Yeomans [CERN] wrote:
> >
> > > the vast majority [of papers at CERN] are submitted by
> > secretaries on
> > > behalf of a group or are harvested from arxiv.
> >
> > That's fine! There is nothing sacred about authors doing
> > their own keystrokes! Secretary mediation is just as good, as
> > long as the doing of the keystrokes is mandated.
> >
> > > an official CERN report number is
> > > very important to many of our authors and they will only get one of
> > > these by submitting it through the official internal
> > channels and it
> > > is through this process that the secretaries upload the details and
> > > text to CDS.
> >
> > That sounds splendid! The counterpart at an ordinary
> > university or research institution would be the researcher's
> > standardised CV or (in the UK) their RAE submission, so as to
> > be considered for performance evaluation. Nothing wrong with
> > secretaries doing the keystrokes, as long as the keys get stroked!
> >
> > > There are a few keen self-archivers but they are really a
> > minority....
> > > [Regarding] arXiv harvesting, this accounts mainly for
> > theory papers
> > > and is usually the individual authors submitting their work. As the
> > > theory department knows that we harvest nightly from arxiv
> > we have an
> > > understanding that it is enough for them to continue
> > submitting there
> > > instead of to the institutional repository.
> >
> > Translation: The keen self-archivers (the ones who do the
> > keystrokes for themselves instead of leaving it to
> > secretaries) are the long-standing Arxiv preprint self-archivers.
> >
> > That's fine too. The keystrokes per paper are really so few
> > that it is not even clear why we are talking about who
> > actually does them, as long as they get done!
> > And the CERN mandate see to it that they must be.
> >
> > > I do think a mandate has helped in filling the repository -
> > without it
> > > I am guessing it would not have been so easy to set up the
> > secretarial
> > > effort, nor would we have the staff resources to put into the
> > > harvesting and managing of the repository. So a mandate might not
> > > change the behaviour of many authors, but it does still help to get
> > > the content in a more indirect way.
> >
> > Although I keep saying that the only thing standing between
> > us now (at 15% OA) and 100% OA is a few keystrokes per paper,
> > it is really a trivial matter who actually does those
> > keystrokes -- compared to making sure an institution mandates
> > that they must be done! (As to harvesting back from a central
> > archive: I think that is a local historic aberration,
> > peculiar to physics: Those in other fields who are "keen" to
> > do the keystrokes themselves will far more sensibly deposit
> > in their own Institutional Repository in the first place!)
> >
> > > We are taken with Minho's idea of offering financial
> > incentives...we
> > > might test the political waters for this.
> >
> > Are you sure it will cost less to make it worth a researcher's
> > while to do the keystrokes than to just pay a secretary to do it?
> >
> > > And as part of our OA
> > > publishing project we'll be making new efforts to encourage
> > individual
> > > submission for the missing documents. OA publishing has grabbed the
> > > interest of the HEP community far more than talking about preprint
> > > deposit did so we hope to piggy-back a bit on this enthusiasm to
> > > improve the repository content too.
> >
> > I couldn't quite follow that: Is it not the HEP community
> > that is doing its own keystroking already, by depositing in
> > Arxiv? And are the missing papers not the ones that they have
> > not keyed in? How is talk about OA publishing solving that problem?
> >
> > (I'm afraid I cannot agree with CERN's strategic emphasis on
> > OA [gold] publishing at this time (15% OA), as I have said
> > before. I think CERN could do far, far, far more for
> > worldwide OA today if it focussed on spreading its own
> > historic OA [green] self-archiving policy and practice to
> > other institutions worldwide and across disciplines. OA gold
> > can come after we reach 100% OA green. By focussing instead
> > on OA gold at this early and incomplete stage of OA itself,
> > CERN is missing its full potential historic role. CERN's role
> > and contribution to OA will nevertheless have been immense --
> > just far short of what it might have been, because of this
> > premature changing of local gears toward gold when the green
> > task worldwide is so far from done.)
> >
> > Stevan Harnad
> > A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of
> > providing open access to the peer-reviewed research
> > literature online (1998-2005) is available at:
> >
> > To join or leave the Forum or change your
> > subscription address:
> >
> > Access-Forum.html
> > Post discussion to:
> >
> >
> > UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an
> > institutional policy of providing Open Access to your own
> > research article output, please describe your policy at:
> >
> >
> > BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable
> > toll-access journal
> >
> > OR
> > BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access
> > journal if/when
> > a suitable one exists.
> >
> > AND
> > in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
> > in your institutional repository.
> >
> >
> >
> >
Received on Fri Apr 07 2006 - 15:22:03 BST

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