Monday, February 20. 2006
On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 Charles Oppenheim (CO) wrote in AmSci:
CO: : "I regret to say that Stevan is incorrect in some of his comments. For previous RAEs, there WERE licensing arrangements put in place to permit p/copies of articles to be passed to RAE panels. he is probably unaware of this because no great publicity was associated with the arrangements that were set up."There is no end to what people will do, if left to their own devices, safely out of reach of critical reflection. The only substantive question, though, is: What actually makes sense?
(If more publicity had attended the low-profile RAE licensing arrangements last time, perhaps some voices of reason would have been raised earlier. As it stands, it seems to me that people in the self-regulating interstices of IP-never-neverland are making ad hoc decisions about what does and does not need permission without any particular answerability to fact or reason, one way or the other!)
Unless I am mistaken, the RAE consists of the following: Researchers all over the UK submit N (4? 8? 12?) copies of their four most important articles, to be counted (and sometimes confirmed, and sometimes even read and pondered) by a panel of RAE assessors.
I (and many others the world over) receive, every year, several times, copies of the articles of candidates at other institutions who are being evaluated for employment, promotion, tenure, chairs, prizes, or funding. Does anyone imagine that a license has been or needs to be sought in order to send someone's own work out to be evaluated?
Reductio ad absurdum: Suppose the photocopies, which the author makes for his own private use, are temporarily lent to another individual, with the request that they then be returned to their owner: Does that too call for "licensing arrangements"?
Well then let the evaluation copies be considered a loan, and let that be the end of it! (If still in doubt, run the same thought experiment through with a lent book, instead of an article, or one's own photocopy of one's own book, lent.)
Still not absurd enough? Well then return to what would have been the most sensible thing to do in the first place: Not to use originals or photocopies of the publisher's version at all, but simply the author's own peer-reviewed final draft ("postprint"). Still think I need a license to send my own work to someone to assess it for a salary rise?
CO: "Licences are likewise needed this time around because the Universities do not (in general) own the copyright in these items, so they are "dealing" with someone else's (usually a publisher's) copyright material. Such copying by Universities cannot be considered "fair dealing" as it is not for one of the permitted purposes, and indeed is not permitted under any other exception to copyright. So I am glad that PLS is arranging a licence so that institutions can pass copies of items to RAE panels without risk of copyright infringement."The solution to this rather absurd pseudo-problem -- "How can I provide a copy of my very own writing to be evaluated by someone who I would very much prefer not to oblige to go out and buy a copy for himself in exchange for the privilege of deciding whether or not to pay me more salary or research funding?" -- is super-simple: Let it not be (nominally) the "universities" that do the submitting to the RAE; let it instead be (nominally) the authors themselves. "Here is my work: Please assess me!" Let the authors either "lend" their own photocopies of their own published articles to the RAE assessors (with a postage stamp and a cheery request to return it to its rightful owner once assessed), or, better still, let them submit only their own final, corrected drafts, straight out of their own word-processors. (I had already pointed out that the fatal foolishness -- probably out of pointless pedantry if not paranoia -- was in RAE's insisting on the publisher's offprint rather than the author's postprint in the first place.)
I am, of course, not proposing that these idiotic prophylactic measures actually be taken; I am just trying to use them as an intuition pump, to wash off the nonsensical notion that "institutions" (whether the author's university or HEFCE) are here making "unfair use" of the publisher's property: It is the authors who are doing the fair-using, of their own work, in their own interests. Anyone who insists on construing it in another way is simply giving HEFCE and the universities bad advice. (But, without publicity, bad advice risks being followed.)
CO: "In summary, I'm afraid the law does require licensing this time around, as it did for the previous RAEs."The Law requires licensing if we put the question to the Law in the following form:
The Law comes up with an altogether different answer if we instead ask:"May institutions make multiple photocopies of a published work to submit them to the RAE?"
QED (or so it ought to be, but I expect there are more hermeneutic epicycles to be spun on this yet...)"May individuals lend/send personal copies of their own work to be evaluated?"
CO: "My understanding is that the RAE panels want pdfs rather than author postprints because they need the reassurance that the thing they are reading is identical to that which was published. Since the RAE is an auditing exercise in which the onus is on the integrity of what is being submitted, HEFCE no doubt feel that the pdf offers the necessary security."That is indeed the heart of the matter, and just a little common sense and reflection will reveal -- as I have pointed out many times before -- that the onus is not on HEFCE but on the institutions, to make sure that what they are submitting is kosher. If it is discovered that someone has submitted a plagiarised or unpublished or altered work -- something that the electronic medium makes even easier to detect and expose than was possible in the paper medium (though even in the paper medium, the risk and consequences of exposure had been mighty) -- then the ones that are named, shamed, blamed and punished are of course the institutions, and ultimately the researchers, not HEFCE!
To show that this is all pure pedantry and nothing more (except possibly paranoia), ask yourself whether it is really "safe" to trust even the journal offprint? After all, peer review being the frail human exercise it is, the only ones who may (or may not) have ensured that the paper met all dietetic laws were the referees: Is the onus of the integrity of the RAE exercise to be entrusted to one or two unidentified, fallible, corruptible referees? Surely RAE should re-do the peer review, and with more robust numbers, on whatever document the author submits!
If this last compunction seems to call into question the value of having the RAE assessors re-do in any measure the assessment that has already been done by the peer reviewers, then I have succeeded in making myself understood! There is no need for most of the baroque trappings of this auditing exercise: Insofar as published journal articles are concerned, it is just an auditing exercise. The RAE should not be asking for copies of the papers to read at all -- god knows how many of them actually get read anyway -- it should simply be counting: journal articles, citations, downloads, and other objective indicators. (Charles himself has published a good deal of evidence that a goodly proportion of the variance in the RAE rankings is already predictable from that scientometric audit trail.)
Instead, we find ourselves in the absurd position of twisting ourselves into knots in order to have the "legal right" to submit for re-assessment (inexpert re-assessment, and only on a spot-check basis), by an RAE panel, the publisher's proprietary page-images of a peer-reviewed article that has already been assessed (by purpose-picked, qualified peer experts -- within the vagaries of each journal's quality standards, competence, and conscientiousness, such as they are), when the resulting RAE outcome is already highly correlated with an objective audit we could have done without even needing to have the full-texts in hand! And, inasmuch as we may have felt impelled to give the full-texts a peek, we might just as well have had the author's peer-reviewed, corrected final draft (postprint), without the further pomp and circumstance, just duly certified by the already frantic and compulsive RAE preparation committee in each department of each university, eager to maximise their ranks, minimise their risks, and be compliant in every conceivable and inconceivable way.Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier. Ariadne 35.
As I said, this will all be seen to be hilarious in hindsight: Once we are all making our postprints routinely accessible online free for all in our institutional repositories, the thought that we were agitating ourselves over "licensing arrangements" for RAE assessment way back in 2006 will be seen to have just been one of those quaint paleolithic quirks, like the erstwhile conviction that everyone needed a walking stick or a top hat in order to stay upright and avoid their death of a cold or sunstroke...
CO: "Having said all that, things would have been so much simpler if, as Stevan has argued, mandated self-archived articles with copyright owned by the academic/HEI had been around years ago!"I hate to be so contrary again but, no, it is not copyright-retention that has been and is the problem. It is finger-retention: If/when researchers make (or get made to make) their fingers do the walking, to do at last those few keystrokes required to deposit their refereed postprints (and optionally also their pre-refereeing preprints) in their own IRs -- a practice to which 93% of journals have already given their blessing, though it was not really needed, yet only about 15% of authors are actually doing it unmandated (whereas 95% would do it if mandated) -- then all of this substance- and sense-free shadow-boxing will be at an end and... (After 12 long years I no longer say "the optimal and inevitable" will be upon us: I don't doubt that we will simply graduate to some new, higher level of tom-foolery.)
On Mon, 20 Feb 2006, CO replied:
CO:"With respect, Stevan has got the legal situation wrong. It is not the academics who are asked to provide copies of their articles to the RAE panels - it is their employing Universities."But that is the point! The absurd case for licensing RAE submissions is based on simply asking in the wrong way (whereas asking in the right way would yield the identical benefits, but without the spurious licensing requirement):
(1) The objective is to have 4 articles from every participating researcher sent to RAE quadrennially for auditing and assessment.
(2) If we (arbitrarily) say it is the university that is sending 4N (arbitrary) articles to RAE, then it sounds like the university is making unfair use of 3rd-party content.
(3) If we instead (sensibly) say it is each author, sending his own 4 articles, for auditing and assessment, then it is crystal clear that it is fair (authorial) use.
Hence (3) is not only the way the whole question should be put, but it is also the most accurate and transparent description of what is actually going on, and what the RAE is actually about: Researchers are sending their articles to RAE to be assessed so that they can get more money!
I can only repeat, if RAE persists in putting it instead in an obtuse way, the results will be equally obtuse.
CO:"So, saying it is just like being asked by a colleague for a copy of one of your articles is incorrect. It is the employer making multiple copies of multiple articles."Would it settle minds if a directive were circulated at all the UK universities stating that: "On no account must it be the Centre or its secretaries who photo-copy the articles! Each individual author must do so, personally..."?
(Charles, with all due respect, I am doing a formal and functional reductio ad absurdum here, so it won't do to just repeat the one arbitrary formal way of characterising and implementing the exercise, when another way of characterising and implementing the very same thing would have precisely the same outcome, without the absurd consequences (i.e., without the ostensible need to license 3rd-party contents!).
CO:"It's also not lending of the materials, because the RAE panels retain them, and don't return them to the HEI at the end of the RAE."Would it settle minds if the articles were lent, with the author doing the photocopying, the department merely coordinating ("auditing"!) its own individual authors' mailings, and each author solemnly requesting, in writing, that after "assessment" his personal property itemsd should either be mailed back or destroyed?
I make no comment on the absurdity of RAE wanting to preserve the articles in their possession till kingdom come (whereas they are all already in the public record, duly published, and all that's needed for an audit is an audit-trail -- just as an accounting firm need not store the cash, just the bank-statements!). (The bright light who thought RAE needed a permanent store of the articles themselves after the assessment is no doubt the same one that insisted on the publisher's version instead of the author's final draft in the first place. I think we would all be better off if spared this illumination this time round...)
CO:"Claiming the academics are lending the stuff to RAE panels does not stand up to serious scrutiny - a check of the RAE documentation makes it clear this is not what it is occurring."Vide supra, re. RAE storage. Arbitrary and absurd practises cannot be justified by simply saying "But look, we're doing it."
"CO: I'm sorry to be a pedantic old bore, but what the HEIs are doing for the RAE panels is copyright infringement unless a licence has been agreed."Then let what the HEIs are doing instead be be formally "devolved" to each individual author. Then it's each individual author that's doing it. That's all that's needed (and it's merely a trivial formality; and it's been nothing but a trivial formal matter all along).
CO:"Re. the pdf versus author version, the RAE panel are auditors. Just as a financial auditor would require printed invoices, bank statements, etc., the panel has to use the legally most robust version of the documentation it is validating. HEFCE will be bending over backwards to ensure everything it does is legally watertight. I'm afraid Word documents are much less likelyOn the contrary, the fact that HEIs would be the ones taking the risk if they allowed their authors to use a doctored Word document is the point!
First, if it's going to be a financial-audit analogy, then let's keep the tertium comparationis straight:
First, auditors audit bank-statements, not cash! (They don't need to read the writing on the money, weight the pounds sterling themselves, or stash the cash for future generations.)
HEFCE itself is doling out cash on the strength of the research bank-statement audit. The bank-statements are provided by the author, via his institution. It is authors'/institutions' responsibility to ensure that their submitted bank-statement statements are valid. It is they who are liable if they are fraudulent, not HEFCE. And the sensible way for HEFCE to "validate" those bank-statements is precisely the same way any prospective lender would verify a client's bank-statements or credit rating: by consulting a central bank-asset database -- which in this case is ISI, for which the UK fortunately already has a national site-license! All that's needed for that is each article's reference metadata, not its full-text (let alone the full-text in the publisher's PDF format!).
And -- ceterum censeo -- the reference metadata are all that needs to be submitted for auditing (i.e., counting).
In contrast, "[re-]assessment" (i.e., substantive evaluation, as opposed to mere auditing) -- over and above the peer-review that these published articles have already undergone with their respective journals -- is another matter, and probably a superfluous one, but for the browsing and spot-checking that some of the re-assessors may actually wish to do, the authors' postprints are more than enough. And those postprints need sit merely in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR), where the re-assessors may safely consult them at their leisure, 24/7, online...
Am I the only one who sees that this is all an imperial tempest in a virtual teapot?
Your weary archivangelist, with his sparse remaining vestiges of patience alas a-frayed...
1997 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> 2006
Saturday, February 18. 2006
In Open Access News. Peter Suber describes a "New Elsevier policy on NIH-funded authors" which informs Elsevier authors:
"Elsevier will submit to PubMed Central on your behalf a version of your manuscript that will include peer-review comments, for public access posting 12 months after the final publication date. This will ensure that you will have responded fully to the NIH request policy. There will be no need for you to post your manuscript directly to PubMed Central, and any such posting is prohibited (although Elsevier will not request that manuscripts authored and posted by US government employees should be taken down from PubMed Central)."Peter criticizes this Elsevier policy, but I think it is the NIH policy, not the Elsevier policy, that needs the criticism (and correction).
Elsevier's author self-archiving policy is as constructive and progressive as anyone could wish, and perfectly sufficient for 100% OA:
"You can post your version of your article on your personal web page or the web site of your institution, provided that you include a link to the journal's home page or the article's DOI and include a complete citation for the article. This means that you can update your version (e.g. the Word or Tex form) to reflect changes made during the peer review and editing process."It is NIH that has been persistently and needlessly foolish, despite being fully forewarned. NIH has pointlessly insisted that the deposit must be in a 3rd-party central repository, PubMed Central (PMC), instead of the author's own institutional repository (from which PMC could easily harvest the metadata, linking to the full-text of the article). As a result, NIH has gotten itself stuck with a 12-month embargo as well as an interdiction against depositing directly in PMC.
And besides insisting that (1) the deposit must be in PMC, NIH has not even put any muscle behind its "must" -- merely (2) requesting, rather than requiring, that its authors deposit -- and (3) deposit within 12 months, not immediately upon acceptance for publication.
Hence the NIH policy has virtually invited both a low compliance rate and an embargo upon itself -- and for no reason whatsoever, as all the benefits of 100% OA can be had without (1) - (3) by simply requiring immediate deposit in the author's own IR (and simply harvesting and linking from PMC). The IR software allows would-be users to request the eprint from the author semi-automatically by email during any delay period.
One can only hope that NIH will follow the lead of the UK Select Committee, RCUK and Berlin-3, and get it right the next time. (Note that although the CURES Act would be an improvement, a mandate is not enough: It must be a mandate for immediate deposit, and deposit in the author's own institutional repository.):
"Elsevier Science Policy on Public Web Archiving Needs Re-Thinking"
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Below, Kate Price of U. Surrey asks whether publishers would allow authors to make electronic versions of their articles available to the UK's assessors for its 4-yearly Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) (in place of the paper submissions that had been required in prior years). Alicia Wise of the Publishers Licensing Society replies that licensing arrangements are being made with HEFCE.
First, I would like to point out such a colossal absurdity in this that it takes one's breath away. Then, more constructively, I will point out what is likely to be the actual outcome, mooting the entire question.
(1) The Absurdity: If for RAE 1996 and 2001 there was no need felt to make a "licensing arrangement" in order for authors to submit paper copies of their published articles for RAE assessment, why on earth would anyone imagine that a licensing arrangement is required for the electronic versions? I am not in the habit of asking my publisher for permission to send copies of my own article for evaluation, whether for RAE, salary review, or research grant funding. (What on earth were HEFCE thinking?).
(On top of this, it is almost certain that it is HEFCE's completely arbitrary, unnecessary and dysfunctional insistence, to date, on the publisher's PDF for RAE assessment that is the source of all the fuss.)
(2) The Constructive Alternative: Research Councils UK (RCUK) is, one hopes, on the verge of mandating that the final, peer-reviewed, accepted draft ("postprint") of all articles resulting from RCUK funding must be deposited in the fundee's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. UK Universities are also poised to follow suit, with mandatory depositing of all their research output.
The solution is hence crystal clear. Forget about licensing! The postprints should be used for RAE assessment. The PDFs are infinitely more trouble than they are worth: their marginal value over the postprint is next to nothing. HEFCE should join the chorus (of research funding councils and research institutions themselves) in mandating that all postprints be deposited in the university's IR.
Deposit mandates are wonderful things, for they cater for all tastes. Ninety-three percent of journals have already agreed that access to them can be set to Open Access (OA). (Note, again, that no permission is needed from anyone in order to deposit the postprints themselves!) The journal's endorsement of the author's making the deposit OA is welcome, but not necessary either. But if an author for some reason prefers not to make the deposited article OA, they can make it RA (restricted access) instead. The RAE assessors can then be given access to the RA deposit.
Now, before everyone starts squawking about all sorts of legalistic and pedantic niceties, sit and think about it for a few moments, and try to sort out what really has substance in all this, and what is just officious fluff: No, the difference between PDF and postscript is not a problem. No, providing access to RAE assessors for a restricted access deposit is not a problem. No, mandating deposit is not a problem. In fact all of these are natural developments, optimal for research, researchers, their institutions, their funders and their assessors -- and they are also inevitable.
So we can either keep talking ourselves through more epicycles, or we can just go ahead and do the optimal and inevitable (and obvious) at last.
Harnad, S. (2001) Research access, impact and assessment. Times Higher Education Supplement 1487: p. 16.Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sent: 15 February 2006 17:46
Friday, February 17. 2006
Here are some commonsense replies to questions that have been raised repeatedly across the years:
On Wed, 15 Feb 2006, Mary Steiner wrote in SPARC-IR:
"Some repositories are starting to develop "researcher pages" or "selected works pages" that feature the scholarship of an individual (typically in addition to academic/research units). Regardless of your IR platform, what is your policy with regard to these pages?"It is of course an excellent policy for an institution to promote the research output of its researchers. The Dutch IRs are the most advanced in this regard. But the IR's primary function is to host digital documents, of which the primary target is research papers. Publicity and researcher pages and other "views" of the IR are spin-offs, not the mainstay (though very useful spin-offs).
"Do researchers maintain the pages entirely on their own, including uploading citations + full-text content? "The logical and practical sequence is: Deposit in the IR and then extract views and harvest data, not vice versa.
"If so, do you let them make the full-text work immediately available on your repository, or is it vetted first for copyright compliance (if appropriate)?"This is the author's own work. Don't let your 3rd-party IP/permissions specialists mistake this for their territory! Author self-archiving is different, and authors don't need anyone looking over their shoulders (though they can use help and encouragement when they are vacillating -- as long as the advice and information given them is sound -- which it very, very rarely is!)
"Do you provide any metadata improvements on what is submitted, or take what is provided and leave it at that?"Papers should be deposited with the standard metadata tags that the OAI-compliant IR softwares demand. Further "improvements" are optional and certainly should not retard or weigh down deposits (especially at a time when IRs still have very little content).
"What is your approach if a researcher leaves your institution? Do you leave the researcher page intact, with simply a note that the person has left?"Researcher pages are an institution's call. But the main target of an IR, the articles themselves, should certainly stay put, apart from updating metadata for the author's current affiliation. They are means of maximzing access to the author's work, and removing them when the author leaves is as absurd as removing books from a library's shelf.
"Any insights or thoughts with regard to "researcher pages" in an institutional repository are appreciated. Much thanks,"Researcher pages should be generated "views" based on the content of the IR. But the IR itself is a repository for depositing research output (and other digital content). It should not be mixed up with home-page provision. And its publicizing functions are spin-offs; its primary function is to house the content, and the primary content is research output, pre- and postprints.
Thursday, February 16. 2006
On Wed, 13 Feb 2006, Sarah Kaufman wrote in JISC-REPOSITORIES:
"...having spoken to academics within this institution, it has become apparent that potential depositors may be wary of depositing into a digital repository as they fear that a repository that includes pre-prints may not appear 'credible'.The following may perhaps save people a lot of time that will otherwise be wasted re-inventing this superfluous wheel:
(1) The right way to make the distinction between published, peer-reviewed material and unpublished material is the classical way: by tagging it as such.See the well-worn self-archiving FAQs on these questions:
Sunday, February 5. 2006
On 4-Feb-06, at 5:41 PM, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote in the AmSci Forum:
"In addition to self-archived papers and those in full OA journals, don't forget (a) those in hybrid/optional OA journals (which seem to average around 40 articles p.a) and (b) those in 'Delayed OA Journals'. I and others are currently trying to estimate the latter - over 1m articles from HighWire Press publishers alone (and 0.25m from the first 32 ALPSP members to respond to my enquiry...)"Lower tolls are preferable to higher tolls, shorter embargoes are preferable to longer embargoes, longer temporary access is preferable to shorter temporary access, wider access is preferable to narrower access, but Open Access is still Open Access, which means free, immediate, permanent online access to any would-be user webwide, and not just to those whose institutions can afford the access- tolls of the journal it happens to be published in.
The measure of the percentage of OA is the percentage of current annual article output that is freely accessible online. The rest is merely measuring Back Access (BA). BA is welcome, but it is not OA; and not what the research community wants and needs most today. Research uptake, usage, impact and progress do not derive any benefit whatsoever from embargoes, delaying full access and usage. That is not what research is about, or for.
But this is not the publishing community's problem, at all. As long as a journal is green on immediate self-archiving, it has done all it needs to do for OA at this time (i.e., it has not tried to get in OA's way, and in the way of its benefits to research and researchers). The rest is up to the research community now, and they will take care of it -- and not through spontaneous self-archiving alone (just as they do not publish through spontaneous publishing alone). Systematic Self-Archiving Policy is needed, in the form of self-archiving mandates by researchers' institutions and funders, the other two stake-holders in their joint research output and its impact. Both publishing itself and its citation impact are already linked to professional rewards, in the form of salary, promotion and research funding. A self-archiving mandate need merely be based on that existing contingency, and the existing publish-or- perish mandate, and designed simply to maximize it.
One of the biggest and most important components of the OA impact advantage, especially in fields that have already reached 100% OA, such as astrophysics, is EA (Early Access). One would think that earlier access merely brings earlier impact, not more impact. But Michael Kurtz's data shows that EA not only adds a permanent increment to citation counts, but to their continuing growth rate too. It is as if earlier usage branches early, and the branches keep branching and generating more usage and citations. Of course, this will vary with the uptake-latencies, time-constants and turn-around times of each field, but I doubt that progress in any field benefits from, or is even unaffected by, access delays, any more than it is likely to be immune to publication delays.
If a work is worth publishing today, it is worth accessing today, not just in 6 months, 12 months, or still longer. That is what needs to be counted and tallied if we are tracking the growth of OA today. If we want to maintain a separate tally for BA too, that's fine, but beside the point, because after the fact, insofar as OA and immediate research progress -- research's immediate priority today -- are concerned. BA may be useful to students, teachers and historians, but it is OA that is needed by researchers, today. Researchers are both the providers and the primary users of research: They (and their institutions and funders) are also the ones in the position to provide -- and benefit from -- immediate OA.
Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:
Nature 10 September on Public Archiving (1998)
(Page 1 of 1, totaling 6 entries)
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