St. Andrews University Eprint Archive

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Sun Aug 31 17:53:07 EST 2003


To: Peter Foldiak 
Re: http://eprints.st-andrews.ac.uk/

Thanks for drawing your new eprints.org archive to my attention. I
think the St. Andrews' archive is an excellent implementation, worthy
of emulation. To list, first, three of the many good things about
your archive, before making three minor suggestions:

    (1) The St. Andrews open-access archive targets exactly the
    right material: refereed research, before (dissertations, tech
    reports, preprints) and after peer-review (postprints, revisions,
    commentaries).

    (2) St. Andrews provides a proxy archiving service for those authors
    who can't or won't do it for themselves.

    (3) St. Andrews provides good documentation and explanation, including
    explanations about copyright strategies.

Now a few suggestions:

(a) The success/failure of your archive depends entirely on how quickly
and how fully you manage to fill it. You need a clear, explicit
university-level policy (but administered departmentally)
for self-archiving all research output. Here is a potential model:

    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/archpolnew.html 

Unless you adopt and implement a systematic self-archiving policy, your
archive will not fill! That is where all the effort needs to be invested.
All St. Andrews researchers have to be informed clearly about the effects
of open access on research impact. Here is some useful material to use
in educating your researchers about the means and ends of open access and
self-archiving: 

    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving.ppt

National research-assessment implications should also be stressed:

    http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue35/harnad/

(b) The Hairst http://hairst.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/ material is good too,
but perhaps a bit hirsute on just one thing: The main target is refereed
research output (i.e. refereed journal articles and refereed conference
papers, and their precursor preprints and dissertations). Books are a
longshot, and muddy the waters. I would downplay them for now so as not
to cause confusion about the target -- at least until the target content
reaches tipping point. However, a standardised RAE CV policy would be
a good idea 

    http://paracite.eprints.org/cgi-bin/rae_front.cgi 

and book entries in the St. Andrews archive could be accompanied
by the metadata and *cited references* of the books (never mind
the full-text for now). Then book impact too could be measured
and rewarded, using 

    http://citebase.eprints.org/cgi-bin/search 
and
    http://citebase.eprints.org/analysis/correlation.php

Another useful category of self-archiving material to promote is
the research *data* underlying the research articles:

    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/data-archiving.htm

(c) There is a confusing and misleading emphasis on preservation. Yes,
of course it is good to preserve these self-archived materials, and
they can and will be preserved (ArXiv has been online and cumulating
continuously since 1991); but the substantive issue here is *access*
not preservation! The real preservation problem is for the publishers'
primary toll-access version, online and on-paper. These self-archived
eprints are merely *supplements* to that, publicly archived so as to
maximise access to them, right now. They are not *substitutes* for the
primary publishers' version. It is a mistake to overstress this
access supplement as if it were *the* primary preservation corpus.

Having said that, though, the eprints.org software you are using,
and its OAI-compliant protocol, is a suitable software to use. Although
DSpace emphasizes its preservation power more, the two softwares are
in fact equivalent. 

(In my opinion, DSpace's own contribution to open-access self-archiving
could be far greater if it were focused specifically on institutional
refereed research output, rather than than being aimed diffusely
at (1) general institutional digital-content management, (2)
institutional digital preservation, (3) institutional digital
courseware, (4) institutional digital publication and (only last
and least), (4) institutional refereed-research output: Filling
the institutional research archives will need a very focused
and concerted policy and effort on the part of institutions:
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2948.html )

Now, having created this fine archive, let St. Andrews take on the real
challenge, which is to get the number of items in there to increase from
the 48 in there currently to the St. Andrews' full annual refereed
research output!

Congratulations and best wishes,

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):

    http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html
                            or
    http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/index.html

Discussion can be posted to: september98-forum at amsci-forum.amsci.org 





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