Advocacy and Voluntarism WAS: Don't Just Advocate Keystrokes

From: Leslie Carr <>
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2007 08:20:30 +0000

On 28 Nov 2007, at 14:55, Talat Chaudhri [tac] wrote:

> My aim here is not to rely on voluntarism, but to build from it by
> trying to develop de facto mandates through conversations with
> departmental organisers and university management until proper
> mandates
> are in place.

I rather like Talat's appropriation of the word "voluntarism" for Open
Access. As has been discussed, advocacy and mandates are neither
opposed to each other nor independent of each other, but the
limitations of voluntarism were brought home to me yesterday in a
conversation with the head of a research group in our school. The
following is my recollection of his words to me - this part was a
monologue, not a discussion. I include it because he spontaneously
made an observation about our mandate which I hadn't foreseen.

On Friday 30th November, a Head of Research Group in ECS said:
> "I have seen all the benefits of using our repository in the four
> years since the mandate was developed. I remember how we used to get
> constantly asked for lists of publications for administrative
> purposes and how tedious and time-consuming it was to create a list
> of all my research last year, or a list of every publication on
> which I had collaborated with people inside the university but
> outside our school, or every publication which came from such and
> such a source of funding, or a list of my CV or a Web page. Now it's
> simple - you just say 'go and look in eprints'. Even the RAE. So the
> repository is really, really useful and well worth it... BUT having
> experienced all those benefits and with all that in mind, if the
> mandate wasn't in place I still wouldn't use the repository because
> I just don't do things."

So it looks like the mandate was not only necessary to get him to
start using the repository, but its continued existence is necessary
to keep him using the repository, even when to stop using it would
have significant personal disadvantages. I don't claim that this is a
representative sample of the research community, it is just a single
anecdote, but it seems to me (as a fellow academic) that his comment
acknowledges the limitations on voluntarism for academics and
researchers. Things don't happen unless they they are a required part
of the job. Publish or perish. Attend exam board or be censured by the
Head of School. Get research funding or be refused promotion.
Les Carr
Received on Sun Dec 02 2007 - 10:38:53 GMT

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