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US University OA Resolutions Omit Most Important Component

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Thu May 5 06:33:36 EST 2005

On Wed, 4 May 2005, David Stern wrote:

> While Stevan's push for 100% coverage of academic materials within OA
> repositories is on target, I still believe that we need a more reliable
> and universal infrastructure for decentralized repositories ... one that
> includes long-term support, which means funding for all authors and
> organized R&D for enhanced navigation.

All funding and support are of course welcome, but please, please let us not lose
sight (yet again) of the fact that the problem is not that the cupboards are
not *there* but that they are (85%) *bare*!


That means the immediate problem is *not* an insufficiently reliable and universal
infrastructure or insufficiently enhanced navigation. It is insufficient OA
content provision (15%). Hence what is needed, urgently, is university
*self-archiving policy*, not infrastructural or navigational enhancements:


> The present loose federation of existing D-Space (and other) and possible
> FEDORA-based institutional repository (IR) platforms does not yet offer
> the scalable design that we require in order to develop integrated tools
> with universal storage. Perhaps we need to devlop a blend of IRs and
> discipline-based repositories (a la arXiv) in order to provide platforms
> and navigation for all users -- not just those in organizations able to
> run their own IRs?

Trust me: No "blend" of the present network of near-empty cupboards will
create or invite OA content. Only an explicit OA content-provision policy,
by the content-providing institutions, for their own OA cupboards,
will generate that missing OA content. Provide the content and the
enhancements will all follow as a matter of course. Keep fussing instead
about enhancements, and OA will be delayed yet another needless decade.

> We have the technology, now we need to focus our support on a plan that
> provides universal storage and access ... with or without the peer review
> overlay for the present time.

Here David Stern is alas simply rehearsing well-worn (and long-answered)
worries that have merely been serving to hold back OA for years now,
not to advance it:


Stevan Harnad

> David Stern
> Director of Science Libraries and Information Services
> Kline Science Library
> New Haven, CT  06520-8111
> email:  david.e.stern at yale.edu
> Quoting Stevan Harnad <harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk>:
> > University Open Access (OA) Resolutions, even toothless, purely abstract
> > ones with no concrete policy proposals, are better than no University OA
> > Resolutions, one would have thought, just as some sort of NIH OA Policy
> > is better than none (one would have thought).
> [SNIP]
> > The only thing universities need to do in order to make the content that
> > they themselves already provide openly accessible is to keep on
> > publishing it in journals exactly as they always have done, but in
> > addition, to make an online copy of it openly accessible to all would-be
> > users webwide who cannot afford the official published version -- by
> > self-archiving a supplementary draft of every published article in the
> > university's own OA eprint archive.
> [SNIP]
> > Let us hope that other universities (US and non-US) as well as research
> > institutions and research funders world-wide will not copy/clone diffuse
> > and directionless statements/resolutions such as Columbia's and
> > Berkeley's but instead include the critical concrete component {1} that
> > will convey us all at long last to the optimal and inevitable (and long
> > overdue) outcome for research, researchers, their institutions, their
> > funders, and their funders' funders, the tax-paying public: 100% OA
> > 
> > Stevan Harnad

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