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Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue Mar 15 17:23:18 EST 2005

The only real barrier to 100% OA today is a "Keystroke Barrier":

Researchers wrongly think it is complicated and time-consuming to
self-archive. It is hoped that this new paper will help dispel
that misapprehension:

    Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the
    Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.

    ABSTRACT: A common objection to self-archiving is that it is an
    extra task that puts an unnecessary burden on each researcher. In
    particular, the need to enter the extra bibliographic metadata
    demanded by repositories for accurate searching and identification
    is presumed to be a particularly onerous task. This paper describes a
    preliminary study on two months of submissions for a mature repository
    and concludes that the amount of time spent entering metadata would
    be as little as 40 minutes per year for a highly active researcher.

Below is a recent and relevant (anonymised) query and reply about the
resources needed for institutional self-archiving:

On Mon, 14 Mar 2005, [identity deleted] wrote:

> A colleague has drawn my attention to a report of your recent
> research on OA archives, published on the SciDev.Net website
> (http://www.scidev.net/editorials/index.cfm?fuseaction=readEditorials&itemid=150&language=1&CFID=233089&CFTOKEN=10491819).
> If we were to look into the logistics of setting up such an archive at
> [deleted] would you be able to suggest any particularly good UK ones 
> that I might look at, and, if possible, give me names of people who have 
> worked to set it up?

Yes, my suggestions are these:

For archive-creating software, use the free, open-source software
GNU Eprints. That is the longest and most widely used software
worldwide (and it was created specifically for OA purposes at
Southampton University).

For examples of existing OA archives, see the Institutional
OA Archives Registry, which includes archives by country
and tracks both the number of archives and the growth rate
of the contents of each, by year:
For examples of *successful* archives, look at those, above, that have
a lot of records, and a strong growth rate, such as (in the UK):


For technical advice, you might want to join this list:


Stevan Harnad

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005, [identity deleted] wrote:

> Many thanks for such a swift and helpful reply. I will follow up  
> your suggestions. Do you know where I might get an idea of the costs
> involved so that I can sell the idea to the purse-string holders?

Yes, Les Carr could tell you. He is the author of the OSI Eprints Handbook


And here is his reply:

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005, Leslie Carr replied:

The initial costs for setting up an archive are minimal:

    (i) the equipment: a PC, some backup and an internet connection 

    (ii) the technical support: a share of an experienced Linux/webmaster
    who can devote 2 or 3 days to the initial installation and occasional
    days thereafter to ongoing maintenance, backups, upgrades and changes
    requested by your users.

The ongoing costs will depend on the role of the archive in your
institution. Assuming that its mission is to provide an official
repository for all the research work that your agency undertakes or
sponsors, then it has a fairly central role. Consequently, you will
want to get it right - you will need to make some effort to educate
your users about the archive and what their responsibilities are, you
may want to provide them with some assistance in using it for the  
first few months (especially if there is a backlog of documents to enter).
All this would need resourcing, but (like our institution) you would
probably put it as part of the job specs of your existing staff
(librarians and technical support) and so the costs would tend to be
hidden. Of course, you might add some extra resourcing in the initial
period to cover "internal marketing", user education and quality


Les Carr
Repository Manager for University of Southampton


Note that creating an institutional OA archive is not enough! An
institutional self-archiving policy is needed too. See the 
Southampton Keystroke Policy:


as well as the Registry of Institutional OA Provision Policies:


Stevan Harnad

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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