Central versus institutional self-archiving

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Sun Mar 20 11:13:42 EST 2005


On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 Lee Miller wrote:

> >sh>  (b) It is institutions (not disciplines) that share with their own
> >sh>  researchers a common interest in maximising the visibility, usage
> >sh>  and impact of their own joint research output.
> 
> I strongly disagree. Disciplines do share with their own researchers a 
> common interest in maximising the visibility, usage and impact of their 
> research output. Progress in any discipline stands to gain when research 
> results are quickly shared with other researchers in that discipline.

Please keep in mind what is at issue here: Where and how should articles
be self-archived?

Institutions (universities) are physical entities; "disciplines" are not. 

Institutions (universities) produce research; "disciplines" do not. 

Institutions (at a stretch) have "interests": "disciplines" do not 
(although their learned/professional societies might).

Institutions can require and reward the self-archiving of their own
research output (as a condition for employment and advancement);
"disciplines" cannot (though research funders can, to an extent).

Institutions are enduring entities with an interest in archiving their
own research output; "disciplines" are not. (Learned/professional
societies perdure, but they are not the research-providers; funders are
partial providers of the research, but they are not a "discipline" either.)

A discipline is more like a metadata tag than a physical entity or place.
Yes, "Chemistry" shares with chemists and their universities an "interest"
in the visibility, usage and impact of chemical research -- but only in
a figurative sense, since Chemistry is not an entity like a chemist or
a university; moreover, the American Chemical Society has so far shown
far more interest in maximising its revenue streams from the sale of
its journals than in maximizing the visibility, usage and impact of the
research output of its membership, or of Chemistry in general.

And (a fine point): whereas chemists, their own institutions and their
"discipline" may all have a common stake in *access* to and *progress*
in chemical research, chemists and their institutions are actually in
*competition* with other chemists and their institutions insofar as
visibility, usage and impact are concerned! Yet maximizing the research
impact of a researcher's own research is the principal rationale for
providing open access to it -- by self-archiving it.

So neither "disciplines" nor "progress" are entities with interests:
researchers, their employers and their funders are.

Stevan Harnad

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