[BOAI] Waking OA's Slumbering Giant: Why Locus-of-Deposit Matters for Open Access and Open Access Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 7 Feb 2009 17:06:16 -0500

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    Waking OA's Slumbering Giant: Why Locus-of-Deposit Matters for
    Open Access and Open Access Mandates

SUMMARY: In "Authors: I don't care where you deposit, just do it",
Gavin Baker suggests that it does not matter where authors deposit
their papers to make them Open Access (OA): in an Institutional
Repository (IR) or a Central Repository (CR). Nor, more importantly,
does it matter where authors' funders mandate that they should
deposit them, because IR deposits can be harvested to CRs and vice
versa. I point out that this apparent symmetry between IRs and CRs
with respect to the harvestability from one to the other (in either
direction) is irrelevant today because most of the target content for
OA is not yet even being deposited at all, anywhere: In other words,
authors are decidedly not "just doing it." 
Nor are institutions -- the universal providers of OA's target
output, both funded and unfunded, across all fields -- "just
mandating that authors do it." Apart from the tiny number (about 30)
that have already mandated deposit, institutions are the "slumbering
giant" of OA, until they wake up and mandate the deposit of their own
research output in their own IRs. Not all research output is funded,
but all research output is institutional: Hence institutions are
theuniversal providers of all OA's target content. Although not many
funders mandate deposit either, the few that already do (about 30)
can help wake the slumbering giant, because one funder mandate
impinges on the research output of fundees at many different
institutions. But there is a fundamental underlying symmetry
governing where funders should mandate deposit: As Prof. Bernard
Rentier (founder of EuropenScholar and Rector of U. Liège, one of the
first universities to adopt an institutional deposit mandate)
has recently stressed, convergent funder mandates that require
deposit in the fundee's own IR will facilitate the adoption of
deposit mandates by institutions (the slumbering giant), whereas
divergent funder mandates that require CR deposit (or are indifferent
between CR and IR deposit) will only capture the research they fund,
while needlessly handicapping (or missing the opportunity to
facilitate) efforts to get institutional deposit mandates adopted and
complied with too. The optimal solution for both institutions and
funders is therefore: "Deposit institutionally, harvest centrally".

The well-meaning recommendations of Gavin Baker (GB) in "Authors: I
don't care where you deposit, just do it" are based on some implicit
misunderstandings and unrealistic assumptions about the status quo
today (OA < 15%) and what is practically required to get us from that
status quo to 100% OA, at long last. 

Locus-of-Deposit Matters for OA Mandates. Getting us to 100% OA at
long last is precisely what OA deposit mandates are all about. And
that in turn is what makes locus-of-deposit the crucial matter
that Prof. Rentier has fully recognized it to be: The lesson for GB
is that if you care about getting authors to deposit, you need to
care about where you mandate deposit!

Symmetry of IR/CR InterHarvestability Is Irrelevant Without Deposits,
and Deposit Mandates. GB makes the simple, indeed simplistic
assumption of symmetry, insofar as harvestability is concerned: There
are Institutional Repositories (IRs) and Central Repositories (CRs)
and they are all interoperable, hence inter-harvestable: "What
difference does it make where the OA content is deposited? It can be
harvested in either direction!" The difference is very simple: Most
of it is not deposited anywhere, and what we are talking about is
choosing the fastest and surest policy to get it all deposited (and
hence OA).

Next to No Deposits Without Deposit Mandates. Everyone (including GB)
is at last coming to realize that the way to get OA's target content
to be deposited and thereby made OA is by adopting deposit mandates,
becausemost researchers (85%) are simply not depositing, whereas most
researchers say they will deposit, willingly, if mandated; and it
turns out that when it is indeed mandated, most researchers actually
do deposit. 

Who Should Mandate Deposit, Where? The apparent symmetry of
cross-harvestability to/from IRs and CRs (once everything is indeed
deposited) certainly does not answer these two questions. A closer
examination of the question of who is to mandate deposit,
and where discloses profound and interrelated asymmetries. The two
candidates for mandating deposit are authors' employers (i.e., their
institutions) and authors' funders. And the two candidate loci for
deposit are the authors' own institutions (IRs) or various thematic
or geographic collections (CRs).

Not All Research Is Funded, But All Research Is Institutional. There
are tens of thousands of research-active universities, research
institutions, and major R&D organizations worldwide. These are the
"institutions" and they generate virtually all of OA's primary target
content: refereed journal articles. There are also a few thousand
major research funders, public and private, that fund some (but by no
means all) research output. 

Asymmetry I: Funder Mandates Only Cover Part of OA's Target
Content. And here we have the first profound asymmetry that GB
overlooks: All of OA's target output is produced by institutions
(unaffiliated researchers represent such a minute fraction of the
total that it would be absurd to base overall OA policy on this tiny
special case). But not all -- in fact perhaps not even most -- of
OA's target output is funded. So if CRs are to be filled by funder
mandates, they will not be filled with all and perhaps not even most
of OA's target content even if all funders were to mandate it -- and,
crucially, most funders still don't mandate deposit at all. 

The "slumbering Giant": Most Institutions Do Not Yet Mandate
Deposit. The fact that most institutions don't mandate is the
practical gist of the entire locus-of-deposit issue: How does
locus-of-deposit affect probability-of-mandate adoption (and
compliance)? Without the mandates (and mandate compliance), we do not
have the OA.

Funder Mandates Can Wake the slumbering Giant ? If They Stipulate
Institutional IRs As Locus-of-Deposit. Now the coverage-asymmetry we
have already pointed out -- that all research originates from
institutions but not all research is funded -- already suggests that
there may not be parity between IRs and CRs: If funders were the only
ones to mandate deposit, and they either stipulated that papers had
to be deposited in a CR, or they left it open-ended whether they were
deposited in a CR or an IR, then that would leave all unfunded
(institutional!) content undeposited, and no form of CR-to-IR
harvesting could fill the IRs with their missing content. This would
remain true even if (mirabile dictu) all funders were to mandate
deposit. It is the institution/funder, IR/CR coverage asymmetry,
which is irremediable by harvesting.

Institutions Are the Universal OA Providers. Now note that the
reverse is not true, and this is another aspect of the
coverage-asymmetry: If (mirabile dictu) all institutions were to
mandate deposit, then that would indeed generate 100% OA, and funders
and CRs would indeed be able to harvest all their target content from
the CRs. The trouble is, and remains, that all institutions do not
yet mandate deposit; only a tiny number of them (about 30) do today.

Funder Mandates Reach and Bind Multiple Distributed Institutions. It
is likewise true that only a tiny number of funders (also about 30)
as yet mandate deposit. (Perfect symmetry so far.) But because the
number of funders is far smaller than the number of institutions, and
because some of the mandating funders are rather big ones, the actual
proportion of mandating funders (as well as the amount and proportion
of OA content that they cover) is substantially higher than the
current proportion of mandating institutions (and the amount and
proportion of OA content that they cover). 

Asymmetry II: Funder Mandates Can Jump-Start Institutional Mandates
? If Locus-of-Deposit Is Convergent Rather than Divergent. This is
the second IR/CR asymmetry, and the most important one, for with a
simple change in the stipulated locus-of-deposit of these few funder
mandates (and future ones) -- from CR or IR/CR deposit to IR deposit
-- funder mandates can, at no loss to themselves, help to jump-start
a burst of IRs and IR mandates from the "slumbering giant," the
distributed worldwide set of institutions: the universal providers of
all OA content. Every single funder mandate in fact touches on many
institutions: the institutions of each one of its fundees. If funders
mandate CR deposit only, or even if they leave it open whether
deposit is in a CR or an IR, they miss the opportunity to
systematically motivate and facilitate IR-creation and
mandate-adoption by institutions. Suppose funders instead stipulate
the fundee's own IR as the designated locus of deposit (allowing,
where needed, the option of depositing in interim back-up
repositories like DEPOT, [currently languishing with only 66
deposits!], explicitly designed to host deposits temporarily for
institutions that have not yet set up IRs of their own, ready to be
exported to the depositor's institution automatically as soon as they
have set up their own IR): 

Funders Motivate Institutions to Mandate and Authors to Comply. The
result of funder mandates designation the fundee's IR as locus of
deposit is that funders greatly increase the potential scope and
power of their deposit mandates, far beyond only their own funded
output: With institutional authors depositing funder-mandated papers
in their own IRs, not only are authors thereby motivated to deposit
the rest of their output in their IRs too, but their institution is
motivated to capture the rest of its institutional output by
mandating deposit too. (The slumbering giant awakes!)

Collaboration and Convergence Versus Competition and Divergence
Between Institutional and Funder Mandates. If funder mandates thus
collaborate and converge on locus-of-deposit with institutional
mandates, by stipulating IR deposit (at the unitary local source: the
universal provider), instead of competing and diverging needlessly on
locus of deposit, nothing whatsoever is lost and everything is
gained. Automatic harvesting is indeed there, ready to collect
funder-mandated IR deposits into the funder's preferred CRs where
desired, because the deposits themselves have been done: Institutions
are well placed and only too willing to cooperate in monitoring and
ensuring compliance with the grant fulfillment conditions of the
funders of their researchers. And the more that institutions are
involved in seeing to it that their researchers do their depositing
in compliance with funder requirements, the sooner the token will
fall for them, so they realize that the very same solution can and
should be applied to all their institutional research output, funded
and unfunded, in all areas, by adopting an institutional mandate too.

Institution/Funder Complementarity and Synergy in Reaching Universal
OA. It is from the fundamental asymmetry underlying the question of
locus-of-deposit and direction of harvesting that the
institution/funder complementarity and synergy emerges: It has next
to nothing to do with the symmetry of harvestability, given the
deposits, and everything to do with ensuring that the deposits
actually get done! (And this is without even mentioning the third
asymmetry underlying the absurdity of institutions having to
back-harvest their own institutional output because it has been
deposited willy-nilly institution-externally instead of being
deposited institutionally in the first place, and then automatically
exported wherever else desired.)

I will reply to the rest of GB's posting via quote/commentary:
      If requiring deposit is left to universities, their
      repositories will only contain publications by their

(1) But the total of all institutional research output is the total
of all research output, hence 100% of OA's target content.
("Institutions" includes all universities, research institutes, and
major R&D organizations.) 

(2) Not so for the total of all funded output.

(3) And the fundamental problem for OA today is that the institutions
? the slumbering giant, the universal providers ? do not yet require
deposit. Only a tiny number of them do.

(4) If (as is simply assumed here) all institutions did mandate
deposit for all of their research article output, we would have 100%

(5) The issue, therefore, is: How can locus-of-deposit be used to
help induce all institutions to mandate deposit?
      Since some researchers have multiple institutional
      affiliations, and since any given publication may be
      authored by researchers across multiple institutions, it
      is easy to see that researchers will ultimately have to
      deposit their publications in as many repositories as
      there are institutions involved in their research.

We are talking about one, single locus of direct deposit,
particularly for funder-mandated deposits, and whether that one
deposit should be in the author's own IR or a non-institutional CR,
if the purpose is not just to deposit that one paper to make it OA,
but to wake the slumbering giant to mandate
depositing all institutional output to make it OA. 

For an author affiliated with multiple institutions, that still only
means a one-time IR deposit, in the IR of one of his institutions,
followed by export to the IRs of the rest of his institutions. That
has nothing to do with the question of symmetry for the locus of
deposit of funder mandates that cover multiple institutions.
      This trend seems to rest on the naive notion that, in the
      Internet era, it is somehow still necessary for
      researchers to conduct their work solely through the
      channels of a university.

It is not clear what futuristic scenario GB may have in mind, but the
reality today is that researchers are employed and paid by their
institutions to conduct and report their (funded and unfunded)
      It is understandable that universities may wish to host a
      complete collection of the research published by their
      faculty, but nowadays that can easily be accomplished by
      importing it automatically from the more complete
      collections of the distributed Web.

Yes, just as manna from heaven could be harvested to feed the hungry!
The trouble is, most research (85%) is not yet deposited anywhere on
the distributed Web today, hence nowhere to be harvested to or from,
because deposit has not yet been mandated. We are talking here about
how locus-of-deposit, particularly for funder mandates, can increase
the probability of waking the slumbering giant (institutions) to
mandate deposit of all of their output, funded and unfunded, across
all disciplines, institutions, languages and nations. That way we
might one day indeed have a "complete collection" of OA research
output globally.
      Recall also that universities are not the universal
      providers of all research output. There will always be
      independent scholars, as well as publications by authors
      in government, non-profits and think tanks, and

Government, non-profits, think-tanks and corporations are all
"institutions," can all create their own (individual or consortial)
IRs, and can mandate deposit in them. And funders can mandate deposit
in those IRs by those of their fundees working at those institutions.
      The OA philosophy is global. It cannot be reduced to a
      single university.

No one is reducing OA to a single university. OA content is
distributed across a global network of institutions, the universal
providers. And the idea is not reduction but expansion ? of the
practice and policy of depositing the research output of all those
institutions in their own IRs, through collaborative, convergent
rather than competing and divergent deposit mandates from both
institutions and funders.
      Institutions: Require that researchers ensure their
      publication ends up in your IR, wherever they initially
      deposited it. If they are accustomed to depositing in a
      funder or thematic repository, they're responsible for
      working with the IR manager to ensure their work gets
      harvested. Better still if the IR allows users to set up
      automatic harvesting themselves, either for a single
      publication or for all the author's future publications,
      if they don't want to talk to the IR manager.

All splendid alternatives for institutions that already mandate
deposit! But the trouble is that the giant is still slumbering, and
we are talking about how to wake him. If he were already awake --
i.e., if all or most or even many institutions were already mandating
deposit for all of their research output -- then locus-of-deposit
would be far less crucial, and GB's symmetry assumptions and
alternatives would be perfectly fine.

The trouble is that that is not at all where we are today. The giant
is fast asleep; indeed he has grotesquely overslept! And this
panorama of alternative ways to do what he is not doing, nor thinking
of doing, is not going to wake him up and induce him to do it. 

Whereas convergent IR mandates from funders have a good chance of
serving as the wake-up call...
      Funders: Require that grantees ensure their publication
      ends up in your repository, wherever they initially
      deposited it. If they are accustomed to depositing in an
      institutional repository, they're responsible for working
      with your repository manager to ensure their work gets
      harvested. Better still if the repository allows users to
      set up automatic harvesting themselves, either for a
      single publication or for all the author's future
      publications, if they don't want to talk to the
      repository manager.

In the current status quo, when only a tiny proportion of funders is
mandating deposit at all, and an even tinier proportion of
institutions is doing so, this advice is perhaps a tad premature...
for existing IR content.

But it would certainly be a good idea to couple IR deposit mandates
from funders with clear instructions on how the deposits may
be automatically exported to the funder's preferred CR (if any), as
well as how compliance with the deposit mandate is to be verified as
a fulfillment condition of the grant, with the collaboration of the
fundee's institution, IR software (for a funder-name metadata tag)
and IR management.
      This seems more flexible and accommodating to all
      preferences. In particular, it's superior to the
      suggestion that funders should require authors to deposit
      in their institution's repository, because [1] not every
      institution has an IR. Indeed, [2] not every funded
      researcher may even have an institution. The ultimate
      goal is opening all research, regardless of where the
      authors work or who funded the research.

[1] Every institution is just (a) a piece of free software, (b) a
$1000 linux server plus (c) a few days of sysad set-up time from
having its own IR. In the meanwhile, there are interim alternatives
like the DEPOT or multi-institution consortial IR solutions like
the Whiterose Consortium.

[2] Unaffiliated researchers are a red herring, when we are talking
about a collaborative policy that will greatly enhance the
probability of mandating deposit for the overwhelming majority of
OA's target output that is produced by researchers affiliated with an
institution. Moreover, universities have a long and admirable
tradition of hosting the work of unaffiliated scholars (and some IRs
already do).

In summary: The symmetry between Institutional Repositories (IRs) and
Central Repositories (CRs) with respect to harvestability the
harvestability from one to the other (in either direction) is
irrelevant today because most of the target content for Open Access
(OA) is not yet being deposited at all. Convergent funder mandates
that require IR deposit will facilitate the adoption of deposit
mandates by institutions (the universal research providers), whereas
divergent funder mandates that require CR deposit (or are indifferent
between CR and IR deposit) will needlessly handicap (or fail to
facilitate) efforts to get institutional deposit mandates adopted and
complied with. The universal, synergistic solution for both
institutions and funders is: Deposit institutionally, harvest

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

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