Southampton Workshop on UK Institutional OA Repositories
harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Fri Feb 4 11:08:07 EST 2005
The 2-day Southampton Workshop on UK Institutional OA Repositories
January 25-26 2005 was very well attended and appears to have been quite
successful. Most of the speakers' powerpoints are already available at
(a few more to come):
What follows is a summary of the event as I saw it. Other attendees are
invited to post their own impressions!
There were representatives from a large number of UK universities
as well as from UK research funding councils -- the two key partners
in the UK institutional self-archiving initiative.
Day 1 was a practical workshop introduced in an excellent overview
of OA self-archiving by Steve Hitchcock, carefully distinguishing
OA self-archiving from OA publishing, and pinpointing its main target
content: the university's annual peer-reviewed journal article output.
This was followed by two independent parallel streams, one a hands-on
technical one, for archive sysads (conducted by Les Carr, Mike Jewell
Harry Mason and GNU Eprints developer Chris Gutteridge) and one a
strategic/administrative one, for archive managers and university higher
administration (conducted by Pauline Simpson, Jessie Hey, and University
Librarian Mark Brown of the TARDis).
The actual historical steps in the successful strategy that had led to
Southampton's university-level commitment to self-archiving all of its
were described by Pauline and Jessie, and there were some surprises
(even for me!):
Although the real rationale for the worldwide OA movement is the need
to maximise research access and impact, most researchers are to this day
still ill-informed about this (as Alma Swan demonstrated with her survey
data on Day 2). Hence the driving factor in the successful adoption of
a university-supported institutional repository as an integral part of the
research infrastructure at Southampton was not only researcher
awareness of and desire for a way to maximise their research access
and impact! It was researchers' desire to save themselves time and effort
-- and their administrators' desire to increase power and efficiency --
in fulfilling the functions of institutional performance evaluation
This is not to say that OA's primary objective of maximising access and
impact did not play a role in it too; but that role was more salient for
convincing Department Heads and higher levels at the university that
the increased visibility and impact would be to the advantage of the
A further very important factor in the ultimate successful outcome at
Southampton had been the decision three years earlier by one department
(Electronics and Computer Science) to go ahead and implement a mandatory
self-archiving policy at the departmental level and then to report to
the rest of the university its success in filling its archive.
Yet what "sold" the policy university wide, Jessie and Pauline insist,
were three complementary factors: (1) greater access to the research corpus,
(2) stewardship of the University's digital assets, and (3) a new way for
managing research metrics -- especially in fulfilling the requirements
of the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Collaboration between
services and academic groups has been a key element in the success of
the TARDis project, resulting in progressive coverage of all research
output reflecting the needs of each discipline.
The afternoon included presentations on the archiving of empirical
data (an important complement to the self-archiving of the research
publications themselves) (Simon Coles), on the powerful new webmetric
tools developed to measure online usage and citation impact (Tim Brody)
and on the link between institutional self-archiving and research
assessment and fulfilment (by the author of the OSI Eprints Handbook
and the organiser of the workshop, Les Carr.)
Breakout sessions focused and reported upon a number of themes, foremost
among them being advocacy: How to induce researchers to self-archive
and how to induce institutional administrators to induce researchers to
self-archive? In other words: How to advocate the adoption of a successful
university self-archiving policy?
The two foremost candidates were, of course: (1) informing researchers
of the growing body of empirical evidence of the usage/citation
impact advantage that comes from self-archiving their articles and (2)
informing higher university management of both the income implications
and the time-saving and efficiency of creating and filling institutional
repositories with the university's research output for the purposes of
performance assessment, publicity, and RAE fulfilment.
Day 2's Keynote, Bob Campbell, President of Blackwell Publishing
(a publisher that has given its authors the green light to self-archive
their preprints and their postprints) discussed the worries that some
Learned Societies have about the possible effect of self-archiving on
their subscription revenue streams. But on balance, Bob was optimistic
about self-archiving for its benefits to journal article (and hence
journal) visibility, usage and impact, as well as about the potential
contribution of institutional OA Archives to reference-linking projects
such as Cross-Ref. There was also complete agreement on the principle
that the journal is essential, that we must all make sure it perdures,
and that the author's self-archived version need not be the publisher's
PDF -- but that all self-archived versions must always also link to the
publisher's official version, at the publisher's website.
RCUK's Stephane Goldstein was unfortunately ill and could not appear.
[a non-current presentation from 2 months earlier:
So the second speaker was Robert Terry,
describing the Wellcome Trust's very pro-active policy on Open Access:
As a condition of funding, authors must self-archive all articles
resulting from Wellcome-funded research. The specified locus for the
self-archiving (within 6 months of publication) is a central archive
(the European counterpart of NIH's PubMed Central), but Robert stressed
that central and institutional self-archiving were entirely compatible
and complementary. Indeed, it was noted that the article could be
harvested by the central archive from the institutional archive, or vice
versa. The essential point was that self-archiving needs to be mandated,
as a condition for receiving the research grant.
The third talk was by Alma Swan,
who reported her now-famous finding that although authors will not
self-archive if not required by their employers or funders to do so,
the vast majority (69% in an earlier survey, 79% in the latest survey)
state that they will self-archive, and self-archive *willingly*, if
their employers and/or funders require it.
Why this need to mandate a practise that is in researchers' own best
interests? Alma's data indicate that it is because researchers feel
overloaded, know little about how fast and easy it is to perform the
keystrokes needed to self-archive their annual papers (Les Carr will
shortly be reporting the actual time per paper based on ECS logs --
and it's between 6 and 11 minutes!), and are still a bit foggy on the
causal connection between access and impact.
Alma also reinforced Robert Terry's point that central and institutional
self-archiving are complementary and touched on an analysis she
did recently (with many collaborators for JISC) whose conclusion was
that institutional self-archiving is the optimal starting point and
most congruent with existing institutional culture, institutions and
their researchers being the providers. Hence it falls for any future
UK central archive(s) (or Wellcome's or NIH's PubMed Central) that they
could each then just harvest their contents from the local institutional
OAI Archives according to their requirements.
Alma also reported evidence that many years of author self-archiving had
not interfered with the subscription revenues of the longest-standing
green publishers of all -- the American Physical Society and the Institute
of Physics. On the contrary, it helped their visibility, usage and impact.
Hence publisher worries about the risk of future revenue loss have no basis
in actual evidence to date.
Sheila Anderson (AHDS) then gave a preview of some of JISC's future
funding plans and concerns regarding self-archiving in the upcoming year
and Richard Boulderstone (British Library) stressed the importance of
Bill Hubbard of SHERPA then gave an inspiring talk on the benefits and ease of
and Derek Law (Strathclyde) reminded us all of the fact that (as always)
Scotland was far ahead of the rest of the UK in such matters!
(It should be noted in passing that Derek can take credit for jump-starting
the UK's progress in OA too! Way back in 1995, after he and I were both
roundly defeated in a debate about the future course
of what has since become the Open Access movement,
Derek helped prepare the way for the funding by what would become JISC
of what would become the CogPrints project, which would then become
the GNU Eprints software, e-Prints UK, SHERPA and all the rest of
things that have put the UK at the forefront of OA progress worldwide:
A lively question period was followed by a shuttle bus to join the AKT
seminar at the main campus for "Research Repositories: The Next Ten Years"
in which Nigel Shadbolt and I described the *real* reason for filling
all those Institutional Repositories -- and that real reason is not
just university record-keeping and performance evaluation, nor the RAE,
nor even research access and impact, but because of all the remarkable
things -- both scientometric and semantic -- that it will be possible
to do with the unprecedented and invaluable database consisting of all
the world's refereed research output!
The next step is the Berlin 3 Conference, likewise hosted by Southampton,
but this time international, and dedicated to institutions worldwide
implementing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access by formulating and
adopting concrete OA-provision policies.
Very great thanks to Les Carr and Steve Hitchcock for designing a splendid
workshop (and to Fred Friend and the JISC -- through Eprints and TARDis --
for supporting it)!
More information about the Jrnlnote