Central versus institutional self-archiving

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Sat Mar 19 09:03:07 EST 2005

In a comment added to Richard Poynder's new online column on OA


Bill Hubbard of SHERPA


has corrected an important (though intentional!) omission from my
own summary of the outcome of the Berlin 3 conference on implementing
the Berlin Declaration:


(I deliberately left out points on which full consensus had not been

Bill Hubbard points out that there was definitely some convergence
(though not yet complete agreement) reached on the important issue
of central, discipline-based versus distributed institution-based

What everyone agreed on was:

    (1) Central and institutional self-archiving are complementary
    (2) Both are valuable and to be encouraged
    (3) OAI-compliance makes all archives interoperable and equivalent
    (4) Redundancy in archiving is always desirable

What was new was the recognition (by many, but not all) Berlin-3 
delegates that institutional self-archiving nevertheless has a
functional *primacy*, for the following 5 reasons:

    (a) It is institutions (not disciplines) that are the actual
    content-providers. (Researchers are employees of, and do
    research at, their institutions -- not their disciplines, nor
    their learned societies, nor even their research-funders.)

    (b) It is institutions (not disciplines) that share with their own
    researchers a common interest in maximising the visibility, usage
    and impact of their own joint research output.

    (c) It is *institutions* (not disciplines) that are in a position to
    implement policies requiring the self-archiving of their own research
    output, in all disciplines, thereby propagating the self-archiving
    practice across all disciplines (and institutions). (A research-funder
    can require this too, but only in its own discipline, and only for the
    research it funds, and only if a suitable central archive exists and
    is maintained.)

    (d) In the interoperable, OAI-compliant era, central *harvesting*
    (not central depositing) is the natural way to create a central
    subject-based collection (including any enhancing of its the metadata).

    (e) Local institutional self-archiving, being the most congruent with
    institutional and researcher culture and commonality of interests,
    is also the most likely to propagate quickly to 100% OA.

        Swan, Alma and Needham, Paul and Probets, Steve and Muir,
        Adrienne and O'Brien, Ann and Oppenheim, Charles and Hardy,
        Rachel and Rowland, Fytton (2005) Delivery, Management and Access
        Model for E-prints and Open Access Journals within Further and
        Higher Education.  JISC Report.

        Swan, Alma and Needham, Paul and Probets, Steve and Muir, Adrienne
        and Oppenheim, Charles and O;Brien, Ann and Hardy, Rachel and
        Rowland, Fytton and Brown, Sheridan (2005) Developing a model
        for e-prints and open access journal content in UK further and
        higher education. Learned Publishing.

It was accordingly agreed (by many, but not all) delegates, that both
central and institutional self-archiving are to be encouraged, but that
direct institutional self-archiving should be regarded as the default
option, the one that has natural primacy, as the content-provider. And
that the natural harvesting direction is from distributed institutional
archives to central collections, and not vice-versa.

In particular, Robert Terry of the Wellcome Trust


who chaired the all-important Session 4, where the Berlin-3
implementation recommendation was drafted, agreed that although
the Wellcome Trust (like the NIH) is committed to central archiving
of all research it funds , in collaboration with PubMed Central


this can be done either by direct central depositing, or by institutional
self-archiving and subsequent harvesting -- and that institutional
self-archiving is the *default option*. (This is progress indeed, and
it would be wonderful if this understanding propagated also to NIH!)

    "A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy"

Stevan Harnad

 Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives" (1999)

    "PubMed and self-archiving" (2003)

    "Central versus institutional self-archiving" (2003)

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
        To join or leave the Forum or change your subscription address:
        Post discussion to:
        american-scientist-open-access-forum at amsci.org

UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when 
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.

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