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Re: Role of arXiv

On Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 10:33 PM, agentilb Gentil-Beccot
<anne.gentil-beccot@cern.ch> wrote:
> On Oct 15, 2010, at 3:10 AM, Sandy Thatcher wrote:
>> ST:
>> Anticipating Stevan's response, I'd ask how these disciplinary
>> repositories are to be filled since they lack the power that
>> universities have to mandate submissions?
> Without the power of mandates, successful subject repositories
> instead wield the immense power of incentives to attract
> scholars.

Unmandated subject repositories are just as empty of their 
target content as unmandated institutional repositories are. The 
illusion that they are not comes from the denominator fallacy: 
Yes, an unmandated repository for all of, say, biology, from all 
institutions, will have more content than a single unmandated 
institutional repository (across all of its output subjects). But 
the denominator from which the deposit rate for the institution 
is derived is the institution's total annual output (across all 

The denominator for the subject repository is all the output in 
that subject *from all institutions*.

Prediction: Unmandated, the percentage will be the same for both: 
about 15%.

There is one known, longstanding (since 1991) exception, Arxiv, 
and this is because of a habit of sharing preprints that HEP 
physicists and astro physicists had had and had exercised since 
before the Internet. Yes, when the Internet and then the web were 
created, these subfields flocked to it, and their output is 
virtually 100% for years now. But the trouble is, that's not 
happening in any other field (though computer science and 
economics come close). Most fields are still at 15%, almost two 
decades after the possibility of OA was first demonstrated by the 
HEP and astro physicists.

The issue is not central vs. institutional locus of deposit. It's 
getting paralyzed authors to deposit at all. And for that, the 
institutional locus is the one that is in a position to mandate 
deposit. Not all research is funded, but virtually all research 
comes from institutions. Convergent, one-time deposit (for 
non-depositors) is certainly easier to mandate than divergent, 
multiple deposit. (How many subjects -- hence subject 
repositories -- might a piece of work fall into?

All the benefits of central search are there with central 
harvesting; but institutions are the places to deposit, once. 
They can mandate it. They have no interest in mandating multiple, 
institution-external deposit. And funders should help the process 
converge, systematically, rather than forcing it to diverge, by 
mandating institution-external deposit. That should be 
accomplished by harvesting, *after* 100% depositing has been 
ensured, by convergent institutional and funder mandates.

> Subject repositories do something crucial for
> scholars: they enable them to communicate faster, they make their
> work more visible to their peers, and they give their work more
> impact.

And you have them with local depositing and central harvesting.

But what we lack is enough depositing anywhere at all. That's 
what mandates are for. And central repositories, as noted, cannot 
mandate. And (except for Arxiv, in some subfields), central 
repositories don't get more than the usual baseline 15% (except 
when mandated by funders).

> This is epecially the case when large-scale digital
> libraries integrate the repository content with the scholarly
> record. We have done a case study of arXiv.org for High- Energy
> Physics, in symbiosis with the SPIRES/INSPIRE service (which
> incidentally we launched earlier this week: see
> https://listserv.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind1010&L=pamnet&D=1&T=0&O=D&P=37998
> inspirebeta.net and projecthepinspire.net)

None of that has anything to do with locus of deposit.

> Our results could be of interest in this conversation,
> spotlighting motivations for scientists (whose behavior in this
> respect is known to be relatively insensitive to mandates)
> http://arxiv.org/abs/0906.5418 (apologies for those who already
> spotted it on this list in the past).

SUMMARY: Evidence confirming that OA increases impact will not be 
sufficient to induce enough researchers to provide OA; only 
mandates from their institutions and funders can ensure that. HEP 
researchers continue to submit their papers to peer-reviewed 
journals, as they always did, depositing both their unrefereed 
preprints and their refereed postprints. None of that has 
changed. In fields like HEP and astrophysics, the journal 
affordability/accessibility problem is not as great as in many 
other fields, where it the HEP Early Access impact advantage 
translates into the OA impact advantage itself. Almost no one has 
ever argued that Gold OA provides a greater OA advantage than 
Green OA.The OA advantage is the OA advantage, whether Green or 

> We proved that clear
> advantages exist in the speed of communication and impact of work
> in subject repositories, to the point that subject repositories
> become the (sole) location for scholarly discourse. Eventually,
> scientists with these field-specific tools rarely read journals
> but acquire most information directly from these resources.

It is uncontested that OA content will be consulted jointly, not 
institution by institution. It is a historic fact that physicists 
sharing preprints began with central deposit and have been doing 
it ever since. But the habit has not generalized, and that is the 
problem. And institutional repositories and mandates are the 

None of the benefits of central collections are based on a need 
for central locus of deposit.

And, as noted, regardless of where researchers are consulting 
refereed research (and, a fortiori, regardless of their locus of 
deposit), it is still the journals that are implementing the 
refereeing today.

Stevan Harnad
> Kind regards,
> Anne Gentil-Beccot (CERN - Serials Librarian)
> Travis Brooks (SLAC/Stanford - INSPIRE Director of Operations)
> Salvatore Mele (CERN - Head of Open Access & INSPIRE Strategic
> Director)