From: Stevan Harnad (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Aug 04 2002 - 01:02:22 BST
Journals" and "Disaggregated Models":
Comments on the SPARC Position Paper on Institutional Repositories
The SPARC position paper, "The Case for Institutional Repositories,"
is excellent and will serve a very
important and useful purpose in mapping out for universities exactly
why it is in their best interests to self-archive their research
and how they should go about doing so.
I will only comment on a few passages, having mostly to do with the
of "certification" (peer review) in which SPARC's message may have
a little garbled along the same lines that like-minded precursor
(notably E-biomed and Scholar's Forum) have likewise been a little
A Proposal for Electronic Publications in the Biomedical Sciences
A New Model For Scholarly Communication
To overview the point in question very briefly:
To provide open access (i.e., free, online, full-text access) to
the research output of universities and research institutions worldwide
-- output that is currently accessible only by paying access-tolls
to the 24,000 peer reviewed journals in which their 2.5 million annual
research papers are published -- does not call for or depend upon any
changes at all in the peer review system. On the contrary, it would
be a profound strategic (and factual) mistake to give the research
community the incorrect impression that there is or ought to be any
of link at all between providing open access to their own research
by self-archiving it and any modification whatsoever in the peer review
system that currently controls and certifies the quality of that
The question of peer-review modification has absolutely nothing to
with the institutional repositories and self-archiving that the SPARC
paper is advocating. The only thing that authors and institutions need
be clearly and explicitly reassured about (because it is true) is that
self-archiving in institutional Eprints Archives will preserve intact
that very same peer-reviewed literature (2.5 million peer-reviewed
annually, in 24,000 peer-reviewed journals) to which it is designed to
provide open access.
Hence, apart from providing these reassurances, it is best to leave
certification/peer-review issue alone!
Here is where this potentially misleading and counterproductive
is first introduced in the SPARC paper's section on "certification":
Most of the
currently being developed rely on user (including author)
to control the input of content. These can include academic
departments, research centers and labs, administrative groups,
other sub-groups. Faculty and others determine what content
inclusion and act as arbiters for their own research
certification at the initial repository submission stage thus
from the sponsoring community within the institution, and the
of qualitative review and certification will vary."
There is a deep potential ambiguity here. The SPARC paper might
referring here to how much, and how, institutions might decide to
their own research output when it is still in the form of
and that would be fine:
"1.5. Distinguish unrefereed preprints from
But this institutional self-vetting of whatever of its own
research output a university decides to make public online should on no
account be described as "qualitative review and certification"! That
instead be peer review,
and peer review is the province of the
expert referees (most of them affiliated with other institutions, not
the author's institution) who are called upon formally by the editors
independent peer-reviewed journals to referee the submissions to those
journals; this quality-review is not the province of the institution
that is submitting the research. Self-archiving is not self-publishing,
and peer-review cannot be self-administered:
"1.4. Distinguish self-publishing (vanity
press) from self-archiving
(of published, refereed research)"
It merely invites confusion to characterize whatever preliminary
self-vetting an institution may elect to do on the contents of the
unrefereed preprint sector of its Eprint Archives with what it is that
journals do when they implement peer review.
Worse, it might invite the conflation of self-archiving with
self-publishing, if what the SPARC paper has in mind here is not just
the unrefereed preprint sector of the institutional repository, but
would be its refereed postprint
sector, consisting of those papers that
are certified as having met a specific journal's established quality
standards after classical peer review has taken its standard course:
"What is an Eprint Archive?"
"What is an Eprint?"
"What should be self-archived?"
"What is the purpose of self-archiving?"
"Is self-archiving publication?"
It is extremely important to clearly differentiate an institution's
self-vetting of the unrefereed
sector of its archive from the external
quality control and certification provided by refereed journals that
subsequently yields the refereed
sector of its
archive. Nothing is gained by conflating the two:
"Peer-review reform: Why bother with peer
"In some instances,
the certification will be implicit and associative, deriving
the reputation of the author's host department. In others, it
might involve more active review and vetting of the research
author's departmental peers. While more formal than an
certification, this certification would typically be less
than rigorous external peer review. Still, in addition to the
level certification, this process helps ensure the relevance
repository's content for the institution's authors and
peer-driven process that encourages faculty participation."
These are all reasonable possibilities for the preliminary
and self-vetting of an institution's unrefereed preprints. But implying
that they amount to anything more than that -- by using the term "peer"
for both this internal self-vetting and external peer review, and
suggesting that there is some sort of continuum of "compellingness"
between the two -- is not helpful or clarifying but instead leads to
understandable) confusion and resistance on the part of researchers and
For, having read the above, the potential user who previously knew
the refereed journal literature -- consisting of 24,000 peer-reviewed
journals, 2,5 million refereed articles per year, each clearly
with each journal's quality-control label, and backed by its
reputation and impact -- now no longer has a clear idea what literature
might be talking about here! Are we talking about providing open access
to that same refereed literature, or are we talking about substituting
some home-grown, home-brew in its place?
Yet there is no need at all for this confusion: As correctly noted
SPARC paper, University Eprint Archives ("Institutional Repositories")
can have a variety of contents, but prominent among them will be the
university's own research output (self-archived for the sake of the
visibility, usage, impact, and their resulting individual and
institutional rewards, as well described elsewhere in the SPARC
paper). That institutional research output has, roughly, two embryonic
stages: pre-peer-review (unrefereed) preprints and
Now the pre-peer-review preprint sector of the archive may well
some internal self-vetting (this is up to the institution), but the
post-peer-review postprint sector certainly does not, for the "vetting"
there has been done -- as it always has been -- by the external
and editors of the journals to which those papers were submitted as
preprints, and by which they were accepted for publication (possibly
only after several rounds of substantive revision and re-refereeing)
once the refereeing process had transformed them into the postprints.
Nor is the internal self-vetting of the preprint sector any sort of
substitute for the external peer review that dynamically transforms the
preprints into refereed, journal-certified postprints.
In the above-quoted passage, the functions of the internal preprint
self-vetting and the external postprint refereeing/certification
are completely conflated -- and conflated, unfortunately, under what
appears like an institutional vanity-press penumbra, a taint that the
self-archiving initiative certainly does not need, if it is to
the opening of access to its existing quality-controlled, certified
research literature, such as it is, rather than to some untested
substitute for it.
be noted that to serve the primary registration and
functions, a repository must have some official or formal
within the institution. Informal, grassroots projects -
well-intentioned - would not serve this function until they
Universities should certainly establish whatever internal standards
see fit for pre-filtering their pre-refereeing research before making
it public. But the real filtration continues to be what it always was,
namely, classical peer review, implemented and certified as it always
was. This needs to be made crystal clear!
Journals: Third-party online
journals that point to
articles and research hosted by one or more repositories
another mechanism for peer review certification in a
Unfortunately, the current user of the existing, toll-access
refereed-journal literature is becoming more and more confused about
just what is actually being contemplated here! Does institutional
self-archiving mean that papers lose the quality-control and
of peer-reviewed journals and have it replaced by something else? By
what? And what is the evidence that we would then still have the same
literature we are talking about here? Does institutional self-archiving
mean giving up the established forms of quality control and
and replacing them by untested alternatives?
There also seems to be some confusion
between the more neutral
journals" (OJs) (e.g., Arthur
which merely use Eprint Archives for input (the online
submission/refereeing of author
self-archived preprints) and output (the
of author self-archived postprints as having
accepted and "published" by the OJ in
question), but leave the
classical peer review system intact;
and the vaguer and more controversial notion of
(2) "deconstructed journals" (DJs) on the
"disaggregated model" (e.g., John W.T. Smith:
http://library.ukc.ac.uk/library/papers/jwts/d-journal.htm), in which (as far as I can ascertain) what is being contemplated is the self-archiving of preprints and their subsequent "submission" to one or many evaluating/certifying entities (some of which may be OJs, others some other unspecified kind of certifier) who give the papers their respective "stamps of approval."
JWT Smith has made some testable empirical conjectures, which could
eventually be tested in a future programme of empirical research on
alternative research quality review and certification systems. But
they certainly do not represent an already tested and already validated
("certified"?) alternative system, ready for implementation in place of
the 2.5 million annual research articles that currently appear in the
established refereed journals!
As such, untested speculations of this kind are perhaps a little out
of place in the context of a position paper that is recommending
(and already tested) practical steps to be taken by universities in
order to maximize the visibility, accessibility and impact of their
research output (and perhaps eventually to relieve their library
budgetary burden too).
Author/institution self-archiving of research output -- both
and postprints -- is a tested and proven supplement to the classical
journal peer review and publication system, but by no means a substitute
for it. Self-archiving in Open Access Eprint Archives has now been
going on for over a decade, and both its viability and its capacity to
increase research visibility and impact have been empirically
Substitutes for the existing journal peer review and publication
in contrast, require serious and systematic prior testing in their
own right; there is nothing anywhere near ready there for practical
recommendations other than the feasibility of Overlay Journals (OJs)
as a means of increasing the efficiency and speed and lowering the cost
of classical peer review.
Almost no testing of any other model has been done yet; there are no generalizable findings available, and there are many prima facie problems with some of the proposed models (including JWT Smith's "disaggregated" model, [DJs]) that have not even been addressed:
See the discussion (and some of the prima facie problems) of JWT
"Alternative publishing models - was:
Scholar's Forum: A New Model..."
"Journals are Quality Certification
"Central vs. Distributed Archives"
"The True Cost of the Essentials
(Implementing Peer Review)"
"Workshop on Open Archives Initiative in
In contrast, there has been a recent announcement that the Journal
Nonlinear Mathematical Physics http://www.sm.luth.se/~norbert/home_journal/
will become openly accessible as an "overlay journal" (OJ) on the
This is certainly a welcome development -- but note that JNMP is a
classically peer-reviewed journal, and hence the "overlay" is not a
substitute for classical peer review: It merely increases the
accessibility and impact of the certified, peer-reviewed postprints
at the same time providing a faster, more efficient and economical way
of processing submissions and implementing [classical] peer review
Indeed, Overlay Journals (OJs) are very much like the Open-Access
that are the target of Budapest Open Access Strategy 2:
Deconstructed/Disaggregated Journals (DJs), in contrast, are a much
vaguer, more ambiguous, and more problematic concept, nowhere near
for recommendation in a SPARC position paper.
"While some of the content for
journals might have
been previously published in refereed journals, other research
may have only existed as a pre-print or work-in-progress."
This is unfortunately beginning to conflate the notion of the
journal (OJ) with some of the more speculative hypothetical features
of the "deconstructed" or "disaggregated" journal (DJ):
The (informal) notion of an overlay journal is quite simple: If
researchers are self-archiving their preprints and postprints in Eprint
Archives anyway, there is, apart from any remaining demand for paper
editions, no reason for a journal to put out its own separate edition
all: Instead, the preprint can first be deposited in the preprint
of an Eprint Archive. The journal can be notified by the author that
deposit is intended as a formal submission. The referees can review the
archived preprint. The author can revise it according to the editor's
disposition letter and the referee reports. The revised draft can again
be deposited and re-refereed as a revised preprint. Once a final draft
is accepted, that then becomes tagged as the journal-certified
End of story. That is an "overlay" journal (OJ), with the postprint
permanently "certified" by the journal-name as having met that
established quality standards. The peer review is classical, as always;
the only thing that has changed is the medium of implementation of the
peer review and the medium of publication (both changes being in the
direction of greater efficiency, functionality, speed, and economy).
A deconstructed/disaggregated journal (DJ) is an entirely different
matter. As far as I can ascertain, what is being contemplated there is
something like an approval system plus the possibility that the same
paper is approved by a number of different "journals." The underlying
assumptions are questionable:
(1) Peer review is neither a static red-light/green-light process
a grading system, singular or multiple: The preprint does not receive
one or a series of "tags." Peer review is a dynamic process of
mediated interactions between an author and expert referees, answerable
to an expert editor who selects the referees for their expertise and
determines what has to be done to meet the journal's quality standards
a process during which the content of the preprint undergoes
revision, sometimes several rounds of it. The "grading" function comes
only after the preprint has been transformed by peer review into the
postprint, and consists of the journal's own ranking in the established
(and known) hierarchy of journal quality levels (often also associated
journal's citation impact factor).
It is not at all clear whether and how having raw preprints
as approved -- singly or many times over -- by a variety of
journals" (DJs) can yield a navigable, sign-posted literature of the
quality and quality-standards that we have currently. (And to instead
interactively transform them into postprints is simply to reinvent
(2) Even more important: Referees are a scarce resource. Referees
sacrifice their precious research time to perform this peer-reviewing
duty for free, normally at the specific request of the known editor
of a journal of known quality, and with the knowledge that the author
will be answerable to the editor. The result of this process is the
navigable, quality-controlled refereed research literature we have
now, with the quality-grade certified by the journal label and its
It is not at all clear (and there are many prima facie reasons
to doubt) that referees would give of their time and expertise
to a "disaggregated" system to provide grades and comments on raw
preprints that might or might not be graded and commented upon by other
(self-selected? appointed?) referees as well, and might or might not be
responsive to their recommendations. Nor is it clear that a
system would continue to yield a literature that was of any use to
Classical peer review already exists, and works, and it is the
that classical peer review that we are talking about making
accessible through self-archiving, nothing more (or less)! Journals
specifically, their editorial boards and referees) are the current
implementers of peer review. They have the experience, and their
quality-control "labels" (the journal-names) have the established
reputations (and citation impact factors) on which such "metadata" tags
depend for their
value in guiding users. There is no need either to abandon journals or
to re-invent them under another name ("DJ").
A peer-reviewed journal, medium-independently, is merely a
service provider and certifier. That is what they are, and that is what
they will continue to be. Titles, editorial boards and their referees
may migrate, to be sure. They have done so in the past, between
different toll-access publishers; they could do so now too, if/when
necessary, from toll-access to open-access publishers. But none of this
involves any change in the peer review system; hence there should be no
implication that it does.
(JWT Smith also contemplates paying referees for their services,
significant and untested departure from classical peer review, with the
potential for bias and abuse -- if only there were enough money
available to make it worth referees' while, which there is not! At
realistic rates, offering to pay a referee for stealing his research
time to review a paper would risk adding insult to injury.)
So there is every reason to encourage institutions to self-archive
research output, such as it is, before and after peer review. But there
is no reason at all to link this with speculative scenarios about new
publication and/or peer review systems, which could well put the very
literature we are trying to make more usable and used at risk of
ceasing to be useful or usable to anyone.
The message to researchers and their institutions should be very
The self-archiving of your research output, before (preprints) and
(postprints) peer-reviewed publication will maximize its visibility,
usage, and impact, with all the resulting benefits to you and your
institution. Self-archiving is merely a supplement to the existing
an extra thing that you and your institution can do, in order to enjoy
these benefits. You need give up nothing, and nothing else need change.
In addition, one possible consequence, if enough researchers and
institutions self-archive enough research long enough, is that your
institutional libraries might begin to enjoy some savings on their
serials expenditures, because of subscription cancellations. This
is not guaranteed, but it is a possible further benefit, and might in
turn lead to further restructuring of the journal publication system
under the cancellation pressure -- probably in the direction of cutting
costs and downsizing to the essentials, which will probably reduce to
providing peer review alone. The true cost of that added value, per
paper, will in
be much lower than the total cost now, and it will make most sense to
for it out of the university's annual windfall subscriptions savings as
a service, per
outgoing paper, rather than as a product, per incoming
as in toll-access days. This outcome too would be very much in line
the practice of institutional self-archiving of outgoing research that
is being advocated by the SPARC position paper.
The foregoing paragraph, however, only describes a hypothetical
possibility, and need not and should not be counted as among the sure
benefits of author/institution self-archiving -- which are, to repeat:
maximized visibility, usage, and impact for institutional research
resulting from maximized accessibility.
"As a paper could appear in more than
one journal and be
by more than one refereeing body, these overlays would allow
aggregation and combination of research articles by multiple
approaches - for example, on a particular theme or topic
the functional equivalent of anthology volumes in the
and social sciences); across disciplines; or by affiliation
(faculty departmental bulletins that aggregate the research of
Here the speculative notion of substituting "disaggregated journals"
(DJs) for classical peer review is being conflated with the completely
orthogonal matter of collections and alerting: An open-access online
research literature can certainly be linked and bundled and recombined
in a variety of very useful ways, but this has nothing whatsoever to
do with the way its quality is arrived at and certified as such. Until
an alternative has been found, tested and proven to yield at least
comparable sign-posted quality, the classical peer review system is the
only game in town. Let us not delay the liberation of its fruits from
access-barriers still longer by raising the spectre of freeing them
not only from the access-tolls but also from the self-same peer review
system that (until further notice) generated and certified their
"Rethinking "Collections" and Selection in
the PostGutenberg Age"
"Such journals exist today-for
example, the Annals
of Mathematics overlay to arXiv and Perspectives in
Publishing, to name just two-and they will proliferate as
volume of distributed open access content increases."
The Annals of Mathematics http://www.math.princeton.edu/~annals/
an "overlay" journal (OJ) of the kind I described above, using
review. It is not an
example of the "disaggregated" quality control
Perspectives in Electronic Publishing, in contrast, is merely a
of links to already published work:
It does not represent any sort of alternative to classical peer review and journal publication.
journals pointing to distributed content, high-value
portals - centered around large, sophisticated data sets
to a particular research community - will spawn new types of
overlay publications based on the shared data."
Journals that are overlays to institutional research repositories
merely certifying that papers bearing their tag have undergone their
peer-review and have met their established quality standards. This has
nothing to do with alternative forms of quality control, disaggregated
Post hoc collections (link-portals) have nothing to do with quality
control either, although they will certainly be valuable for other
"Regardless of journal
type, the basis for assessing the quality of the certification
overlay journals provide differs little from the current
system: eminent editors, qualified reviewers, rigorous
and demonstrated quality."
Not only does it not differ: Overlay Journals (OJs) will provide identical
quality and standards -- as long as "overlay" simply means having the
implementation of peer review (and the certification of its outcome)
piggy-back on the
institutional archives, as it should.
Alternative forms of quality control (e.g., DJs), on the other hand,
will first have to demonstrate that they work.
And neither of these is to be confused with the post-hoc function of
aggregating online content, peer-reviewed or otherwise.
This should all be made crystal clear in the SPARC paper, partly by
stating it in a clear straighforward way, and partly by omitting the
speculative options that only cloud the picture needlessly (and have
nothing to do with institutional self-archiving and its rationale [open
but simply risk confusing and discouraging would-be self-archivers
and their institutions).
"In addition to these analogues to
the current journal
system, a disaggregated model also enables new types of
models. Roosendaal and Geurts have noted the implications of
internal and external certification systems."
Please, let us distinguish the two by calling "internal
(or "self-certification") so as not to confuse it
peer review, which is by
definition external (except in that happy but
rare case where an institution happens to house enough of the world's
qualified experts on a given piece of research not to have to consult
any outside experts).
A good deal of useful pre-filtering can be done by institutions on
own research output, especially if the institution is large enough.
has a very rigorous internal review
system that all outgoing research must undergo before it is submitted
to a journal for peer review.)
But, on balance, "internal certification" rightly raises the spectre
vanity press publication. Nor is it a coincidence that when
assess their own researchers for promotion and tenure, they tend to
rely on the external certification provided by peer reviewed journals
(weighted sometimes by their impact factors) rather than just internal
review. The same is true of the external assessors of university
research output: http://www.hero.ac.uk/rae/
So, please, let us not link the very desirable and face-valid goal
of maximizing universities' research visibility and research impact
through open access provided by institutional self-archiving with the
much more dubious matter
of institutional self-certification.
pertain at the level of internal, methodological
pertinent to the research itself - the standard basis for most
peer review. Alternatively, the work may be gauged or
by criteria external to the research itself - for example, by
economic implications or practical applicability. Such
external certification systems would typically operate in
contexts and apply different criteria. In a disaggregated
these multiple certification levels can co-exist."
This is all rather vague, and somewhat amateurish, and would (in my
opinion) have been better left out of this otherwise clear and focussed
call for institutional self-archiving of research output.
And the idea of expecting referees to spend their precious time
already-refereed and already-certified (i.e., already-published) papers
yet again is unrealistic in the extreme, especially considering the
growing number of papers, the scarcity of qualified expert referees
(who are otherwise busy doing the research itself), and the existing
backlogs and delays in refereeing and publication.
Besides, as indicated already, refereeing is not passive tagging or
grading: It is a dynamic, interactive, and answerable process in which
the preprint is transformed into the accepted postprint, and certified
as such. Are we to imagine each of these papers being re-written every
time they are submitted to yet another DJ?
There is a lot to be said for postpublication revision and updating
postprints ("post-postprints") in response to postpublication
commentary (or to correct
substantive errors that come to light later),
but it only invites confusion to call that "disaggregated journal
publication." The refereed, journal-certified postprint should remain
the critical, canonical, scholarly and archival milestone that it is,
perpetually marking the fact that that
successfully met that journal's
established quality standards. Further
iterations of this refereeing/certification process make no sense
(apart from being profligate
with scarce resources) and should in any case be tested for feasibility
and outcome before being recommended!
"To support both new and existing
certification metadata could be standardized to allow
harvesting of that information. This would allow a reader to
determine whether there is any certificationinformation about
article, regardless of where the article originated or where
Might I venture to put this much more simply (and restrict it to the
research literature, which is my only focus)? By far the most relevant
and informative "metadatum" certifying the information in a research
paper is the JOURNAL-NAME of the journal in which it was published
(signalling, as it does, the journal's established reputation,
quality level, and impact factor)! (Yes, the AUTHOR-NAME, and the
AUTHOR-INSTITUTION metadata-tags may be useful sometimes too, but those
cases do not, as they say, "scale" -- otherwise self-certification would
have replaced peer review long ago. COMMENT-tags would be welcome too,
but caveat emptor.)
"Peer Review, Peer Commentary, and Eprint
Please let us not lose sight of the fact that the main purpose of
author/institution self-archiving in institutional Eprint Archives is
to maximize the visibility, uptake and impact of research output by
maximizing its accessibility (by provising open access). It is not
as an experimental implementation of speculations about untested
new forms of quality control! That would be to put this all-important
literature needlessly at risk (and would simply discourage researchers
and their institutions from self-archiving it at all).
There is a huge amount of further guiding information that can be
derived from the literature to help inform navigation, search and
usage. A lot of it will be digitometric analysis based on usage
measures such as citation, hits, and commentary
But none of these digitometrics should be mistaken for certification,
which, until further notice, is a systematic form of expert human
interaction and judgement called peer review:
Harnad, S. & Carr, L. (2000)
Integrating, Navigating and Analyzing
Eprint Archives Through Open Citation Linking (the OpCit Project).
Current Science 79(5): 629-638.
"Depending on the goals established
by each institution, an
institutional repository could contain any work product
the institution's students, faculty, non-faculty researchers,
staff. This material might include student electronic
classroom teaching materials, the institution's annual
video recordings, computer programs, data sets, photographs,
works-virtually any digital material that the institution
preserve. However, given SPARC's focus on scholarly
and on changing the structure of the scholarly publishing
we will define institutional repositories here-whatever else
they might contain-as collecting, preserving, and
scholarly content. This content may include pre-prints and
works-in-progress, peer-reviewed articles, monographs,
teaching materials, data sets and other ancillary research
conference papers, electronic theses and dissertations, and
This passage is fine, and refocusses on the items of real value in
SPARC position paper.
"To control and manage the accession
of this content
appropriate policies and mechanisms, including content
document version control systems. The repository policy
and technical infrastructure must provide institutional
the flexibility to control who can contribute, approve,
update the digital content coming from a variety of
communities and interest groups (including academic
libraries, research centers and labs, and individual authors).
of the institutional repository infrastructure systems
developed have the technical capacity to embargo or sequester
to submissions until the content has been approved by a
reviewer. The nature and extent of this review will reflect
policies and needs of each individual institution, possibly of
participating institutional community. As noted above,
review will simply validate the author's institutional
and/or authorization to post materials in the repository; in
instances, the review will be more qualitative and extensive,
serving as a primary certification."
This is all fine, as long as it is specified that what is at issue
or self-certification of its unrefereed
For peer-reviewed research the only institutional authentication
required is at most that the AUTHOR-NAME and JOURNAL-NAME are indeed as
advertised! (The integrity of the full text could be vetted too, but
I'm inclined to suggest that that would be a waste of time and
at this point. What is needed right now is that institutions should
create and fill their own Eprint Archives with their research output, pre- and post-refereeing, immediately. The "definitive" text, until journals really all become "overlay" journals, is currently in the hands of the publishers and subscribing libraries. For the time being, let authors "self-certify" their refereed, published texts as being what they say they are; let's leave worrying about more rigorous authentication for later. For now, the goal should be to self-archive as much research output as possible, as soon as possible, with minimal fuss. The future will take care of itself. http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#2.Authentication )
"Institutional repository policies,
also accommodate the differences in publishing practices
academic disciplines. The early adopter disciplines that
discipline-specific digital servers were those with an
pre-publication tradition. Obviously, a discipline's
peer-to-peer communication patterns and research practices
to be considered when developing institutional repository
policies and faculty outreach programs. Scholars in
no prepublication tradition will have to be persuaded to
prepublication version; they might fear plagiarism or
copyright or other acceptance problems in the event they were
submit the work for formal publication. They might also fear
the potential for criticism of work not yet benefiting from
review and editing. For these non-preprint disciplines, a
on capturing faculty post-publication contributions may prove
more practical initial strategy."
Agreed. And here are some prima facie FAQs for allaying each of
by now familiar prima facie fears:
"Including published material
in the repository will also help overcome concerns, especially
from scholars in non-preprint disciplines, that repository
papers might give a partial view of an author's research."
Indeed. And that is the most important message of all -- and the
primary function of institutional eprint archives: to provide open
access to all peer-reviewed research output!
including published material, while raising copyright issues
to be addressed, should lower the barrier to gaining
traditions to participate. Where authors meet traditional
resistance to the self-archiving rights necessary for
posting, institutions can negotiate with those publishers to
embargoed access to published research."
"While gaining the participation of
faculty authors is
to effecting an evolutionary change in the structure of
publishing, early experience suggests better success when
the repository as a complement to, rather than as a
traditional print journals."
Not only "positioning" it as a complement: Clearly proclaiming that
a complement, not a
replacement, is exactly what it is! Not just with
respect to the relatively trivial issue of on-paper vs. on-line, but
with respect to the much more fundamental one, about journal peer
(vide supra). Institutional self-archiving is certainly no substitute
for external peer review. (This is is stated clearly in some parts of
SPARC paper, but unfortunately contradicted, or rendered ambiguous, in
"This course partially obviates the
problematic objection to open access digital publishing: that
the quality and prestige of established journals."
This is a non-sequitur and a misunderstanding: The quality and
come from being certified as having met the quality standards of an
established peer-reviewed journal. This has nothing whatsoever to do
with the medium (on-paper or on-line), nor with the access system
(toll-access or open-access); and it certainly cannot be attained by
self-archiving unrefereed preprints only. The papers must of course
continue to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for refereeing,
revision, and subsequent certification.
"This also allows
repository proponents to build a case for faculty
based on the primary benefits that repositories deliver
to participants, rather than relying on secondary benefits and
altruistic faculty commitment to reforming a scholarly
model that has served them well on an individual level."
I could not follow this. The primary benefits of self-archiving are
maximization of the visibility, uptake and impact of research output by
maximizing its accessibility (through open-access). Researchers
will not, and should not, self-archive in order to support untested new
"certification" conjectures, nor even to ease their institutions'
budgets. The appeal must be straight to researchers' self-interest in
promoting their own research.
"Additionally, value-added services
such as enhanced
and name authority control will allow a more robust
analysis of faculty performance where impact on one's field is
a measurement. The aggregating mechanisms that enable the
assessment of the qualitative impact of a scholar's body of
make it easier for academic institutions to emphasize the
and de-emphasize the quantity, of an author's work.53 This
weaken the quantity-driven rationale for the superfluous
of research into multiple publication submissions. The ability
to gauge a faculty member's publishing performance on
rather than quantitative terms should benefit both faculty and
All true, but strategically, it is best to stress maximization of
existing performance indicators, rather than hypothetical new ones:
Harnad, S. (2001) "Research Access, Impact
are linked." Times Higher Education Supplement 1487: p. 16.
"Learned society publishers are for
the most part far less
aggressive in exploiting their monopolies than their
counterparts. Even so, most society publishing programs, even in a not-for-profit context, often contribute significantly to covering an organization's operating expenses and member services. It is not surprising, then, that proposals advocating institutional repositories and other open access dissemination of scholarly research generate anxiety, if not outright resistance, amongst society publishers. While one hopes that societies adopt the broadest perspective possible in serving the needs of their members-including the broadest possible access to the scholarly research in the field-it is unlikely that societies will trade their organizations' solvency for the greater good of scholarship. It is important, therefore, to review how society publishers can continue to operate in an environment of institutional repositories and other open access systems."
Once the causal connection between access and impact is cleary
demonstrated to the research community, it is highly unlikely that they
will knowingly choose to continue to subsidise their Learned Societies'
"good works" with the lost impact of their own work, by continuing to
hold it hoastage to impact-blocking access-tolls: Societies will need
to find better ways to support their good works. See: http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#19.Learned
"Some suggest that institutional
and electronic aggregations of individual articles will
the importance of the journal as a packager of articles.
institutional repositories and other open access mechanisms
only threaten the survival of scholarly journals if they
brand positions of the established society journals and if
article impact metrics replace journal impact factors in
Most of the above is not true, and hence better left unsaid.
It is quite possible (and hence should not be denied) that
author/institution self-archiving of refereed research may eventually
necessitate downsizing by publishers (to become
peer-review/certification service-providers :
"4.2 Hypothetical Sequel"
But none of this has anything to do with journal- vs author- impact
metrics! The ISI's Web of Science http://wos.mimas.ac.uk/
has already made
it possible (and very useful) for institutions and funding agencies) to
either journal or author citation impact metrics for assessment,
is more useful and informative, and it is very likely that weighting
publications only by their journal-impact will prove a much blunter
instrument than weighting them by the paper's and/or author's impact:
Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C.
Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives:
Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise
whilst making it cheaper and easier.
Ariadne 35 (April 2003).
But once the institutional Eprint Archives are up and filled, far
more sensitive digitometric measures of impact and usage are waiting to
be devised and tested on this vast corpus. A taste is already available
For ongoing research on these new digitometric performance
"On the first point, journal brand
will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be integral to
assessment of article and author quality."
For the reader/user/navigator of the literature, certainly. But more
sensitive measures are developing too, for the evaluator, funder and
employer. The all-important JOURNAL-NAME tag, and the established
level and impact to which it attests will continue to be indispensable
sign-posts, but a great deal more will be built on top of them, once
the entire refereed journal literature (24K journals) is online and
with prominent editorial boards and well-established
histories should be able to maintain their prestige, even with
proliferation of article-based aggregations. As to the second
while new metrics will evolve that demonstrate the
impact of individual articles, rigorous peer review will
to provide value. Even after individual article impact
becomes widespread and accepted by academic tenure committees,
stringent refereeing standards will continue to play a central
in indicating quality."
Correct, and mainly because peer review is the cornerstone of it
"Learned societies have long-standing
members and they should be able to act as focal points for the
research communities they represent. While society dues
include a journal subscription, society members also enjoy
benefits of membership-and, presumably, additional
the journal subscription itself. Societies, therefore, provide
community-supporting services to justify their members' dues
the value allocated to the journal subscription. While a
publisher would find it difficult to charge a subscription fee
journal freely available online, society publishers-by
the benefits of membership-might well prove able to allow
article availability via open access repositories without
substantial membership cancellations or revenue attrition."
In other words, members of learned societies may still be willing to
membership dues to support their societies' "good works." But there is
no need to call these dues "subscriptions"!
And the cost of peer review itself can be covered very easily out of
institutional subscription savings, if and when it becomes necessary:
Given the extent of government and
funding for academic research, especially in the sciences,
such funding agencies have a vested interest in broadening
the dissemination of scientific research. There are several
mechanisms by which government and private funding agencies
help to achieve this broadened dissemination. It has been
that government and foundation research grants could be
to include subsidies for author page charges and other
fees to support open access business models. Such stipulations
help effect change in those disciplines, primarily in the
where author page charges are the norm. Obviously, such
would be less effective in disciplines where input-side models
the stigma of vanity publishing; still, over time, this
could be overcome.
If/when open-access prevails enough to reduce publisher income, it
at the same time increase institutional savings (from cancelled
subscriptions). As peer review costs much less than the whole of what
journal publishers used to do, it can easily be paid for, at the
author/institution end, as a service cost for outgoing research instead
of as a product cost for incoming research as it is now, out of just a
portion of institutions' annual windfall savings, as indicated below:
The burden of scholarly journal costs on
libraries has been well documented. While the variety of
contexts and potential implementations make it difficult to
institutional repository development and operational costs
precision, the evidence so far suggests that the resources
would represent but a fraction of the journal costs that
now incur and over which they have little control."
And that is mainly because peer review alone -- which will be
only remaining essential service if and when all journal publication
becomes all open-access publication --
costs far less than what journal subscription/license tolls used to
The per-paper archiving cost, distributed over the research
that generate the outgoing papers, is negligible, compared to what it
cost for incoming papers in the toll-based system.
"The True Cost of the Essentials
(Implementing Peer Review)"
"Several institutions have applied
to implement institutional repositories. Developed at the
of Southampton, the free eprints.org self-archiving software
comes configured to run an institutional pre-prints archive.
generic version of e-prints is fully interoperable with all
Metadata Harvesting Protocol."
Not an institutional pre-prints
archive: An institutional Eprints
Archive. (Eprints = preprints + postprints)
"Universities that have implemented
Tech, the University of Nottingham, University of Glasgow,
and the Australian National University. The participants in
these programs have described their experiences, providing
insights that should benefit others contemplating an
CalTech reviewed their experience with eprints for SPARC at: