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Re: Role of arXiv

Responding here only to one point in Stevan Harnad's post, his
"bet" about the future configuration of repositories.

There appears to be a conflation of the ownership and control of
the physical infrastructure and the control of the services that
run on top of that infrastructure.  Many IRs today use
Cloud-based solutions--that is, a university has its "own"
branded IR, but the underlying technology is controlled by
another entity and the content deposited in that respository sits
in the data center of that other entity.  This is more likely to
be the way IRs develop over the coming years.  The notion that
universities would do all this generic IT work themselves simply
invites lower service levels and higher costs.  An IR should not
be a jobs program for IT professionals.  What should matter is
performance and cost.

In the toll-access world variants of this type of configuration
dominate.  Many traditional publishers use the services of
hosting companies like HighWire, Atypon Systems, and the service
arm of AIP. (Some hosting companies also provide an enterprise
solution whereby the hosting software is made directly available
to the client company, which in turn mounts the software on its
own data center.)  One variant is for a publisher to work with a
hosting company, which creates the software platform, but the
data center used is that of yet another third-party.  A
substantial amount of research material is in fact stored at a
data center owned and managed by IBM.  I doubt the authors or
their readers know this; in some instances I would bet that even
the publishers don't know this.

But this is not a theological argument.  Some institutions will
choose to "roll their own," others will opt for outsourcing
services--but never ever their brands--to other entities.  No
solution is perfect, though some solutions are better suited for
more institutions than others.

Joe Esposito

On Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 5:08 PM, Stevan Harnad <harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:

> On Thu, 7 Oct 2010, Joseph Esposito wrote (in liblicense):
>> What is the current uptake on arXiv for physics articles? Is
>> it 100%, that is, are there any articles in the field that are
>> published in traditional physics journals that do not appear
>> in arXiv?
> It varies by field. In HEP and Astro, most published journal
> articles are also self-archived in Arxiv, but extremely few
> papers that are self-archived in Arxiv are not (eventually)
> published in journals.
>> Considering the centrality of arXiv to the physics community,
>> it is difficult to imagine that it would ever disappear (or
>> that anyone would want it to).
> No one wants Arxiv to disappear, but I'll bet that within a
> decade Arxiv will just be an automated harvester of deposits
> from authors' own institutional repositories, not a locus of
> direct, institution-external deposit. In the age of
> Institutional Repositories, it is no longer necessary -- nor
> does it make sense -- for authors to self-archive
> institution-externally. It is also a needless central expense
> to manage deposit centrally. It makes much more sense to
> deposit institutionally and harvest centrally.
>> My understanding is that arXiv is funded by a combination of
>> support from Cornell, a large government grant, and
>> contributions from other research universities. If this
>> funding were to disappear (I heard it was threatened a year or
>> two ago), would arXiv be resurrected by the community?
> Once all universities have IRs and IR self-archiving mandates,
> there will be no need to fund repositories for
> institution-external deposit. Harvesting is cheap. And each
> university's IR will be a standard part of its online
> infrastructure.
>> Finally, once again taking the centrality of arXiv to the
>> community it serves into consideration, what would happen if a
>> modest deposit fee were assessed--say, $50 per article?
> The IR cost per paper deposited will be closer to 50c than $50,
> once all universities are hosting their own output, and
> mandating that it be deposited.
>> I am not suggesting that this should or should not happen; I
>> am simply wondering what the outcome would be. (BioMed
>> Central, PLoS, and Hindawi all charge more than this, though
>> they provide additional services.) Would the number of
>> deposits remain about the same? Would the number drop? And
>> if it dropped, how precipitously?
> Guess again! Once the burden of hosting, access-provision and
> archiving is offloaded onto each author's institution, the only
> service that journals will need to provide is peer review, and
> hence journals will be charging institutions a lot less than
> they are charging now. (Print editions as well as online
> editions and their costs will be gone too.)
> Stevan Harnad