Repositories vs. Quasitories, or Much Ado About Next To Nothing

?I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us?. I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library.. and its [peer review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancelation] savings. The only question is: When? This piece is written in the hope of wiping the potential smirk off Posterity’s face by persuading the academic cavalry, now that they have been led to the waters of self-archiving, that they should just go ahead and drink!? (Harnad, 20th century)

Richard Poynder notes that 17 years on, Institutional Repositories (IRs) are still half-empty of their target content: peer-reviewed research journal articles.

He is right. Most researchers are still not doing the requisite keystrokes to deposit their peer-reviewed papers (and their frantic librarians’ efforts are no substitute).

The reason is that researchers’ institutions and funders still have not got their heads around the right deposit mandates.

They will, but they will not get historic credit for having done it as soon as they could have.

Richard also says authors are more willing to deposit in and ResearchGate.

Not true. In percentage terms those central Quasitories are doing just as badly as IRs. But their visible recruiting efforts (software that keeps reminding and cajoling authors) is clever, and something along the same lines should be adopted as part of funder and especially institutional deposit mandates. (Keystrokes are keystrokes, whether done for one’s own institutional repository or a third party Quasitory.)

The biggest Quasitory of all is the Virtual Quasitory called Google Scholar (GS). GS has mooted most of the fuss about interoperability because it full-text-inverts all content. It’s a nuclear weapon, but it is in no hurry. Unlike institutions and funders, GS is under no financial pressure. And unlike publishers, it does not have the ambition or the need to capture and preserve publishers’ obsolete, parasitic functions (even though, unlike publishers, GS is in an incomparably better position to maximise functionality on the web). GS is waiting patiently for the research community to get its act together.

Institutions and funders are not just sluggish in adopting and optimizing their deposit mandates but they are making Faustian Little Deals with their parasites, prolonging their longstanding dysfunctional bondage.

Can’t blame publishers for striving at all costs to keep making a buck, even if they no longer really have any essential product, service or expertise to offer (other than managing peer review). Publishers’ last resort for clinging to their empty empire is the OA embargo — for which the antidote — the eprint-request button (the IR’s functional equivalent of and ResearchGate — is already known; it’s just waiting to be used, along with effective deposit mandates.

As to why it’s all taking so excruciatingly long: I’m no good at sussing that out, and besides, Alma Swan has forbidden me even to give voice to my suspicion, beyond perhaps the first of its nine letters: S.

Vincent-Lamarre, P, Boivin, J, Gargouri, Y, Larivière, V & Harnad, (2016) Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: The MELIBEA Score. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 67 (in press)

Swan, A; Gargouri, Y; Hunt, M; & Harnad, S (2015) Open Access Policy: Numbers, Analysis, Effectiveness. Pasteur4OA Workpackage 3 Report.

Harnad, S (2015) Open Access: What, Where, When, How and Why. In: Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: An International Resource. eds. J. Britt Holbrook & Carl Mitcham, (2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, Farmington Hills MI: MacMillan Reference)

Harnad, S (2015) Optimizing Open Access Policy. The Serials Librarian, 69(2), 133-141

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28