Why Funders Need to Mandate Institutional Deposit, Not Institution-External

Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:

RK: “we want to avoid a situation where a researcher is required to deposit papers in both an IR (to meet their institution’s mandate) and a central repository, like PMC and UKPMC, (to meet the needs of a funder such as the Wellcome Trust).”

It is so gratifying to hear that the Wellcome Trust — the very first research funder to mandate OA self-archiving — is looking into resolving the problem of multiple deposit (IRs and multiple CRs, Central Repositories)..

The solution will have to be bottom-up (IRs to CRs) not top-down (CRs to IRs) for the simple reason that the world’s institutions (i.e., universities and research institutes) are the providers of all research, not just funded research, and the solution has to be one that facilitates universal institutional deposit mandates, not just funder mandates.

IRs and CRs are interoperable. So, in principle, automatic import/export could be from/to either direction.

But since Institutions are the universal providers of all research output, funded and unfunded, across all disciplines, it is of the greatest importance that the solution should be systematically compatible with inducing all institutions to mandate self-archiving.

For an institution that has already mandated self-archiving, the capability of automatically back-harvesting some of its own research output is fine but, if you think about it, not even necessary: If it has already mandated self-archiving for all of its output, back-harvesting is redundant, since forward harvesting (IR to CR) is the only thing that’s still left to be done.

For an institution that has not yet mandated self-archiving, however (and that means most institutions on the planet, so far!) it makes an immense difference whether funders mandate IR deposit or CR deposit.

If funders mandate CR deposit (even with the possibility of automatic back-harvesting to the author’s IR), institutions that have not yet mandated self-archiving are not only left high and dry (if they aren’t mandating local self-archiving for any of their research output, they couldn’t care less about back-harvesting the funded subset of it); but the synergistic opportunity for funder mandates to encourage the institutions to mandate self-archiving for the rest of their research output is also lost: Funders instead need to systematically mandate IR deposit: Funder-mandated IR deposit launches and seeds IRs, and makes the adoption of an institutional mandate for the rest of the institutional research output all the more natural and attractive.

In contrast, funder mandates requiring institute-external deposit (even if they offer an automatic back-harvesting option) not only fail to encourage institutional deposit and institutional deposit mandates, but they increase the disincentive to do so, and in two ways:

(1) Authors, already obliged to deposit funded research institution-externally, will resist all the more the prospect of having to do institutional deposit too (whether for funded or unfunded research); hence they will be less favorably disposed toward institutional mandates rather than more favorably (as they would be if they were already doing their funder deposits institutionally); consequently their institution’s management, too, will be less rather than more favorably positioned for adopting an institutional mandate.

(2) Worse, some funder mandates (including, unfortunately, the Wellcome Trust mandate) allow the fulfillment of the conditions of the mandate to be done by publishers doing the (central) deposit instead of the authors that are actually bound by the mandate. That adds yet another layer of divergent confusion and diffusion of responsibility to deposit-mandates (apart from making it all the harder for funders to monitor compliance with their mandates), since fundee responsibility for “compliance” is offloaded onto publishers, who are not only not fundees (hence not bound by the mandate), but not all that motivated to deposit any sooner than absolutely necessary, if at all. (This is also, of course, a conflation with Gold OA publishing, where the funders are paying publishers for the OA.)

The natural, uniform, systematic and optimal solution that solves all these problems at one stroke — including the funders’ problem of systematically monitoring compliance with their mandate — is for all self-archiving mandates — institutional and funder — to stipulate that deposit should be in the author’s IR (convergent deposit). That way (i) each funded institution is maximally motivated to adopt a mandate of its own; (ii) authors have only one deposit to make, for all papers, in one place, their own IRs; (iii) institutions can monitor funder mandate compliance as part of grant fulfillment, and (iv) the automatic harvesting can be done in the sole direction it is really needed: IR to CR.

Robert mentions two other points below: publisher resistance to CR deposit and the question of XML:

(a) In the OAI-compliant, interoperable age, there is no need for the full-texts to be located in more than one place (except for redundancy, back-up and preservation, of course). If the full-text is already in the IR, all the CR needs to harvest is the metadata and the link.

(Besides, once universal OA mandates usher in universal Green OA, everything will change and optimize even further, But for now, the real hurdle is getting to universal Green OA, and the retardant is institutional sluggishness in mandating self-archiving. That is what makes convergent reinforcement — instead of divergent competition — from funder mandates so crucial at this time.)

(b) In the not too distant future, authors will all be providing XML anyway. What is urgently missing today is not XML but those all-important refereed-article full-texts (final refereed drafts), in any format. It would be exceedingly short-sighted to put extra needless hurdles in the path of getting that urgently needed full-text OA content today, just because we are in such an unnecessary hurry for XML!

(Again, once we have universal Green OA, all kinds good of things will happen, and happen fast, as a matter of natural course. But right now, we are needlessly — and very short-sightedly — over-reaching for inessentials like XML or the publisher’s proprietary PDF, and for centrally deposited full-texts (and, for that matter, for the adoption of authors’ addenda reserving copyright, as well as for the transition to Gold OA publishing) at the cost of continuing to fail, year after year, to do the little it would take to usher in universal Green OA.)

RK: “To… simply use the SWORD protocol to move content from repository A to repository B… does not address the rights issues….some publishers … allow authors to self-archive papers in an IR, but… NOT [in a CR]”

But the question we need to clear-headedly ask ourselves about this fact is: So what?

What we urgently need now is universal Green OA, regardless of locus. There is no particular rush for CR full-texts, and Green publishers have already blessed immediate IR deposit. Why balk at that, and needlessly insist on more, only to get much less? (This is precisely what has been going on year after year now, with the myopic, counterproductive and gratuitous divergence of funder mandates from institutional mandates.)

RK: “In addition to the rights-management problem, there are other issues we need to address such as how a manuscript, ingested from an IR, could be attached to the relevant funder grant, and how a researcher could be motivated to “sign-off” the version of the document in PMC/UKPMC, given that they would have already deposited in the IR. [As you may be aware, every author manuscript in PMC and UKPMC is converted to XML. To ensure that no errors are introduced through this exercise, authors are required to sign-off the conversion before it can be released to the public archive.]”

But why, why all this? There’s an urgent need for the full-texts. There’s no urgent need for the XML. There’s an urgent need for an OA version somewhere, but no urgent need that it must be in a CR. The CR need merely harvest the metadata. Nothing to sign off. Nothing to convert. And the eager institutions will be only too happy to monitor and ensure fundee compliance both for doing the deposit (which should be immediately upon acceptance of the final refereed draft for publication) and for setting access to the deposit as OA (whenever the allowable embargo, if any, elapses).

Gratuitous pseudo-problems are being allowed to get in the way of powerful immediate practical solutions in these complicated and arbitrary self-imposed criteria. (Let us not forget that this has all been hastily improvised in the past 4 years; we are not talking about longstanding, rational, time-tested canonical criteria here!)

RK: “In view of these issues our preferred approach is to encourage researchers to deposit centrally, and then provide IR’s with a simple mechanism whereby this content can be ingested into their repository. Of course, even with the UKPMC to IR approach there may be rights management issues to address. This development work has only just begun but I will keep you (and this list) abreast of progress.”

I hope some further thought will be given to the many reasons adduced here to explain how the proposed solution (CR deposit and automatic IR import capability) is still needlessly far from being the optimal solution, which is the simple, pragmatic alternative that would deliver far more OA at no loss whatsoever: both funders and institutions mandate IR deposit and CRs harvest the metadata from the IRs.

— 2009 —

“>On the Wellcome Trust OA Mandate and Central vs. Institutional Deposit

Conflating OA Repository-Content, Deposit-Locus, and Central-Service Issues

Institutional vs. Central Repositories: 1 (of 2)

Institutional vs. Central Repositories: 2 (of 2)

“>Funder Grant Conditions, Fundee/Institutional Compliance, and 3rd-Party Gobbledy-Gook

NIH Open to Closer Collaboration With Institutional Repositories

“>Universities and their IRs Can Help Monitor Compliance With Funder Mandates

“>Waking OA’s Slumbering Giant: Why Locus-of-Deposit Matters for Open Access and Open Access Mandates

“>Which Green OA Mandate Is Optimal?

Institutional and Central Repositories: Interactions

“>Nature’s Offer To “Let Us Archive It For You”: Caveat Emptor

Institutional Repositories vs Subject/Central Repositories

Optimizing the European Commission’s Open Access Mandate

“>One Small Step for NIH, One Giant Leap for Mankind

“>Institutional OA Mandates Reinforce and Monitor Compliance With Funder OA Mandates

European Research Council Mandates Green OA Self-Archiving

Deposit Institutionally, Harvest Centrally

— 2006 —

“>Preprints, Postprints, Peer Review, and Institutional vs. Central Self-Archiving

“>The Wellcome Trust Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate at Age One

“>Central versus institutional self-archiving

— 2000 – 2006 —

American Scientist Open Access Forum Threads on:

Central versus institutional self-archiving

Central Versus Distributed Archives

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum