Saturday, November 25. 2006
Franck Laloë (2006) Les archives ouvertes (AO) et la communication scientifique directe (CSD). Une présentation à la réunion du CNRS sur les archives ouvertes (Paris, 16 novembre 2006). (blog Libre Accès INIST)Bravo to France and to Franck Laloe for the progress of the French national repository, HAL! As noted before in the AmSci Forum, it just might be that France -- an exception among western nations in this regard -- is a sufficiently centralised country to be able to manage 100% self-archiving of its research output of 120,000 articles per year in a centralised national archive (HAL) instead of a distributed network of Institutional Repositories (IRs).
But what is unlikely is that France is so much of an exception that it will be able to do this without a national self-archiving mandate. (See the graphs of HAL's current and projected growth rate in Franck's presentation and draw your own conclusion about whether and when 100% OA is likely to be reached in France without a mandate. Its present desposit rate seems to be about 12% of French output, which is about the international average for spontaneous [unmandated] self-archiving.)
The advantage of such centralisation, however, is that one national mandate will be enough.
Here are some sentimental flashbacks:
Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:
Are things otherwise in France? (began May, 1999)Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Thursday, November 23. 2006
Research Journals Are Already Just Quality Controllers and Certifiers: So What Are "Overlay Journals"?
The notion of an "Overlay Journal" is and always has been somewhat inchoate -- potentially even incoherent, if construed in a way that conflates (1) access-provision with peer-review service-provision, (2) pre-peer-review preprints with peer-reviewed postprints (or posting with publishing), (3) archives (repositories) with journals, or (4) Central Archives/Repositories (CRs) in particular with distributed Institutional Repositories (IRs) in general.
(1) Access-Provision vs. Peer-Review Service-Provision. A research journal is and always has been both (i) an access-provider (producing, printing and distributing the print edition; producing and licensing the online edition) and (ii) a quality-control service-provider (implementing and certifying the peer review process -- but with the peers independent and refereeing for the journals for free). In the Open Access (OA) era, the access-provider functions of the research journal can and will be supplemented by author self-archiving of the final, revised, peer-reviewed postprint (in the author's own IR and/or a CR) in order to ensure that all would-be users have access, rather than only those whose institutions can afford access to the journal's subscription-based version.It is also possible -- but this is hypothetical and it is not yet known whether and when it will happen -- that the distributed network of IRs and CRs containing authors' self-archived postprints may eventually substitute for the traditional access-provision function of journals (i), at least insofar as online access is concerned. This does not mean that IRs and CRs become journals. It just means that the online access-provision function (i) is unbundled from the former double function of journals (i, ii), and offloaded onto the IR/CR network. And this is merely hypothetical at this time. Only the supplementary function is a reality today, not yet the substitute function. (Is this hypothetical outcome what is meant by "Overlay Journals"? If so, let's forget about them for now and work on reaching 100% OA self-archiving, crossing our "overlay" bridges only if/when we ever get to them.)
(2) Unrefereed Preprints vs. Refereed Postprints (Posting vs. Publishing). Authors self-archive both their pre-peer-review preprints and their peer-reviewed postprints in IRs and CRs, but the primary target of the OA movement, and of OA self-archiving mandates, is the peer-reviewed postprint (of all 2.5 million articles published annually in the planet's 24,000 peer-reviewed research journals). Self-archiving preprints (usually done in order to elicit informal peer feedback and to assert priority) is neither publication nor a substitute for publication. To post a preprint in an IR or CR is not to publish it; it is merely to provide access to it. In providing access to preprints, IRs and CRs are certainly not substituting for journals. (Preprints are not listed in academic CVs as "Publications" but as "Unpublished Manuscripts.")So what is an "Overlay Journal"? The idea arose (incoherently, almost like an Escher drawing of an impossible staircase) from the idea that journals could simply "overlay" their peer-review functions on the self-archived preprint. The idea was first mooted in connection with a CR (Arxiv), but it was never coherently spelled out.
(I will not be discussing here any of the speculations about "overlay" and "disaggregated" and "deconstructed" journals that are based on untested notions about scrapping peer review altogether, or replacing it with open peer commentary; nor will I be discussing far-fetched notions of "multiple-review/multiple-publication" (in which it is imagined that peer review is just a static accept/reject matter, like a connotea tag, and that papers can be multiply "published" by several different journals, taking no account of the fact that referees are already a scarce and over-used resource, nor of the fact that peer review depends on answerability and revision): These conjectures are all fine as possible supplements to peer review, but none has yet been shown to be a viable substitute for it. The notion of an "Overlay Journal" is accordingly only assessed here in the context of standard peer review, as it is practised today by virtually all of the 24,000 journals whose peer-reviewed content is the target of the OA movement.)
One rather trivial construal of "Overlay Journal" (not the intended interpretation) would be that instead of submitting preprints to journals, authors could deposit them in CRs (or IRs) and simply send the deposit's URL to the journal, to retrieve it from there, for peer-review. This would not make the journal an "Overlay" on the CR or IR; it would simply provide a more efficient means of submitting papers to journals (and this has indeed been adopted as an optional means of submission by several physics journals, just as the submission of digital drafts instead of hard copy, and submission via email instead of by mail has been quite naturally adopted, to speed and streamline submission and processing by most journals, in the digital era).
So submitting preprints to journals via IRs or CRs is not tantamount to making the IR or CR into an underlay for "Overlay Journals," nor to making journals into overlays for the IR or CR. (In the case of IRs, because the authorship of most journals is distributed across many institutions, depositing in IRs would have meant "Distributed-Overlay Journals" in any case, but let us not puzzle about what sort of an entity those might have been!)
What might be meant by an "Overlay Journal" in something other than this trivial optional-means-of-submission sense, then? Could the users of the term mean the hypothetical outcome contemplated earlier (1), with journals offloading their former access-provision function (i) onto the IR/CR network and downsizing to become just peer-review service-providers (ii)? Possibly, but at the moment journals don't seem to be inclined to do so, and if they did, it is likely that they would prefer to continue to be thought of as what they have always been: journals, with a name and an imprimatur. Paper journals were not "overlays" on libraries. Journals that abandon their print edition are still journals, not "overlays" on their electronic edition. If their electronic edition is jettisoned too, they're still journals, not "overlays" on IRs/CRs.
Once we recognise that access-provision (i) (whether on-paper or online) was always just an incidental, media-dependent function of peer-reviewed research journals, whereas peer-review service-provision and certification (ii) was always their essential function, then it becomes clear that -- medium-independently -- a journal was always just a peer-review service-provider and certifier of a paper's having successfully met its established quality standards: It has always provided a quality-control tag, -- the journal name -- affixed to a text, whether the text is on-paper on a bookshelf, in the journal's proprietary on-line archive, or in an OA IR or CR. In this very general sense, all journals already are (and always have been) "overlay journals": overlays over all these various media for storing and providing access to the papers resulting from having passed successfully through the journal's peer review procedure (which is not itself a static tagging exercise, but a dynamic, interactive, feedback-correction-and-revision process, answerable to the referees and editors).
In other words, throughout the evolution of research communication -- from On-Paper to On-Line to Open Access -- peer review remains peer review, a journal remains a journal (i.e., a peer-review service-provider and certifier), and texts tagged as "published" by "journal X" remain texts tagged as published by "journal X." All that changes is the access-medium and the degree of accessibility. (And possibly, one day, the cost-recovery model.)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Tuesday, November 21. 2006
On the premise that the Article Accessibility problem is solved, there is no longer any Journal Affordability problem left. Let us suppose (and hope) that researchers' institutions and funders soon mandate, at long last, that their employees/fundees (or their assigns) do the pathetically small number of keystrokes it takes to self-archive all their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their own Institutional Repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication.
That will generate 100% Open Access (OA).
Once it is no longer true that any would-be user is unable to access an article because his institution cannot afford the journal in which it happens to have been published, there is no longer any Accessibility Problem. Librarians' annual agony over which journals to keep and which to cancel within the constraints of their finite serials budgets (never anywhere near enough to afford all published journals) will be over. They can purchase as many as they can afford from among those journals for which their users indicate that they would still quite like to have them in-house (whether out of desire for the paper edition or for online add-ons, or out of habit, sentimentality, loyalty, civic-mindedness or superstition): Nothing important hinges on the choice or the outcome once it is sure that no potential user is any longer doing without (hence no research or researcher is any longer needlessly losing impact because of access denial).
To ever have thought otherwise is simply to have conflated the Accessibility and Affordability problems: Accessibility was always what made Affordability a problem at all.
And before the inevitable, tedious question is asked about how the essential costs of peer-reviewed journal publishing will continue to be covered if/when subscriptions become unsustainable, please consult the prophets.
(Publishing will adapt, cutting the costs of the inessentials, downsizing to the essentials, possibly right down to peer-review service-provision alone; those irreducible essential costs will then be covered on the OA cost-recovery model, out of a fraction of the annual institutional windfall savings from the institutional journal cancellations. Till that income stream is released, however, OA Publishing is OA-Publicatio Praecox...)
Richard Poynder has done it again: In his latest essay "Open Access: Beyond Selfish Interests" he characteristically takes the OA debate and developments several layers deeper than the one at which most of the usual suspects customarily think and reason. Not that I agree with his (implicit) conclusions (implicit, because, being a carefully dispassionate journalist, he does not actually express his opinions, though he most definitely has them!).
But I won't do a critique, because his essay is just too good to harry with niggles. Read it and make up your own mind. But please remember that Richard is not a researcher, salaried by an institution and funded by a grant to write up his findings. In short, this is not OA writing, but writing from which the author endeavours to earn his living. Yet Richard is performing an invaluable service for OA, and for the history of research communication and publication. He is taking a big risk by blogging his writing instead of selling it to a publisher. I hope his grateful readers will do the right thing beyond selfish interests. (Otherwise we risk losing this splendid resource, which would be -- dare I see it -- rather like the tragedy of the commons!)
Monday, November 20. 2006
Michael Kurtz's papers have confirmed that in astronomy/astrophysics (astro), articles that have been self-archived -- let's call this "Arxived" to mark it as the special case of depositing in the central Physics Arxiv -- are cited (and downloaded) twice as much as non-Arxived articles. Let's call this the "Arxiv Advantage" (AA).
Henneken, E. A., Kurtz, M. J., Eichhorn, G., Accomazzi, A., Grant, C., Thompson, D., and Murray, S. S. (2006) Effect of E-printing on Citation Rates in Astronomy and Physics. Journal of Electronic Publishing, Vol. 9, No. 2, Summer 2006Kurtz analyzed AA and found that it consisted of at least 2 components:
(1) EARLY ACCESS (EA): There is no detectable AA for old articles in astro: AA occurs while an article is young (1-3 years). Hence astro articles that were made accessible as preprints before publication show more AA: This is the Early Access effect (EA). But EA alone does not explain why AA effects (i.e., enhanced citation counts) persist cumulatively and even keep growing, rather than simply being a phase-advancing of otherwise unenhanced citation counts, in which case simply re-calculating an article's age so as to begin at preprint deposit time instead of publication time should eliminate all AA effects -- which it does not.
(2) QUALITY BIAS (QB): (Kurtz called the second component "Self-Selection Bias" for quality, but I call it self-selection Quality Bias, QB): If we compare articles within roughly the same citation/quality bracket (i.e., articles having the same number of citations), the proportion of Arxived articles becomes higher in the higher citation brackets, especially the top 200 papers. Kurtz interprets this is as resulting from authors preferentially Arxiving their higher-quality preprints (Quality Bias).
Of course the very same outcome is just as readily interpretable as resulting from Quality Advantage (QA) (rather than Quality Bias (QB)): i.e., that the Arxiving benefits better papers more. (Making a low-quality paper more accessible by Arxiving it does not guarantee more citations, whereas making a high-quality paper more accessible is more likely to do so, perhaps roughly in proportion to its higher quality, allowing it to be used and cited more according to its merit, unconstrained by its accessibility/affordability.)
There is no way, on the basis of existing data, to decide between QA and QB. The only way to measure their relative contributions would be to control the self-selection factor: randomly imposing Arxiving on half of an equivalent sample of articles of the same age (from preprinting age to 2-3 years postpublication, reckoning age from deposit date, to control also for age/EA effects), and comparing also with self-selected Arxiving.
We are trying an approximation to this method, using articles deposited in Institutional Repositories of institutions that mandate self-archiving (and comparing their citation counts with those of articles from the same journal/issue that have not been self-archived), but the sample is still small and possibly unrepresentative, with many gaps and other potential liabilities. So a reliable estimate of the relative size of QA and QB still awaits future research, when self-archiving mandates will have become more widely adopted.
Henk Moed's data on Arxiving in Condensed Matter physics (cond-mat) replicates Kurtz's findings in astro (and Davis/Fromerth's, in math):
Moed, H. F. (2006, preprint) The effect of 'Open Access' upon citation impact: An analysis of ArXiv's Condensed Matter SectionMoed too has shown that in cond-mat the AA effect (which he calls CID "Citation Impact Differential") occurs early (1-3 years) rather than late (4-6 years), and that there is more Arxiving by authors of higher-quality (based on higher citation counts for their non-Arxived articles) than by lower-quality authors. But this too is just as readily interpretable as the result of QB or QA (or both): We would of course expect a high correlation between an author's individual articles' citation counts and the author's average citation count, whether the author's citation count is based on Arxived or non-Arxived articles. These are not independent variables.
(Less easily interpretable -- but compatible with either QA or QB interpretations -- is Moed's finding of a smaller AA for the "more productive" authors. Moed's explanations in terms of co-authorships between more productive and less productive authors, senior and junior, seem a little complicated.)
The basic question is this: Once the AA has been adjusted for the "head-start" component of the EA (by comparing articles of equal age -- the age of Arxived articles being based on the date of deposit of the preprint rather than the date of publication of the postprint), how big is that adjusted AA, at each article age? For that is the AA without any head-start. Kurtz never thought the EA component was merely a head start, however, for the AA persists and keeps growing, and is present in cumulative citation counts for articles at every age since Arxiving began. This non-EA AA is either QB or QA or both. (It also has an element of Competitive Advantage, CA, which would disappear once everything was self-archived, but let's ignore that for now.)
Harnad, S. (2005) OA Impact Advantage = EA + (AA) + (QB) + QA + (CA) + UA. Preprint.Moed's analysis, like Kurtz's, cannot decide between QB and QA. The fact that most of the AA comes in an article's first 3 years rather than its second 3 years simply shows that both astro and cond-mat are fast-developing fields. The fact that highly-cited articles (Kurtz) and articles by highly-cited authors (Moed) are more likely to be Arxived certainly does not settle the question of cause and effect: It is just as likely that better articles benefit more from Arxiving (QA) as that better authors/articles tend to Arxive/be-Arxived more (QB).
Nor is Arxiv the only test of the self-archiving Open Access Advantage. (Let's call this OAA, generalizing from the mere Arxiving Advantage, AA): We have found an OAA with much the same profile as the AA in 10 further fields, for articles of all ages (from 1 year old to 10 years old), and as far as we know, with the exception of Economics, these are not fields with a preprinting culture (i.e., they don't self-archive preprublication preprints but only postpublication postprints). Hence the consistent pattern of OAA across all fields and across articles of all ages is very unlikely to have been just a head-start (EA) effect.
Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4) pp. 39-47.Is the OAA, then, QB or QA (or both)? There is no way to determine this unless the causality is controlled by randomly imposing the self-archiving on a subset of a sufficiently large and representative random sample of articles of all ages (but especially newborn ones) and comparing the effect across time.
In the meantime, here are some factors worth taking into account:
(1) Both astro and and cond-mat are fields where it has been repeatedly claimed that the accessibility/affordability problem for published postprints is either nonexistent (astro) or less pronounced than in other fields. Hence the only scope for an OAA in astro and cond-mat is at the prepublication preprint stage.
(2) In many other fields, however, not only is there no prepublication preprint self-archiving at all, but there is a much larger accessibility/affordability barrier for potential users of the published article. Hence there is far more scope for OAA and especially QA (and CA): Access is a necessary (though not a sufficient) causal precondition for impact (usage and citation).
It is hence a mistake to overgeneralize the phys/math AA findings to OAA in general. We need to wait till we have actual data before we can draw confident conclusions about the degree to which the AA or the OAA are a result of QB or QA or both (and/or other factors, such as CA).
For the time being, I find the hypothesis of a causal QA (plus CA) effect, successfully sought by authors because they are desirous of reaching more users, far more plausible and likely than the hypothesis of an a-causal QB effect in which the best authors are self-archiving merely out of superstition or vanity! (And I suspect the truth is a combination of both QA/CA and QB.)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Here are two rather remarkable anecdotes about the recently created "EMAIL EPRINT" button that allows any would-be user webwide to email a semi-automatic "eprint request" to the author of any eprint in an IR that has been deposited as "Closed Access" rather than "Open Access" to request an individual copy for personal use. (The author need merely click on an "approval" URL in his email message in order to fulfil the request.)
Two recent "accidents," occurring independently at two different institutions, provide dramatic evidence of the potential power of this feature: The button is intended to tide over researcher usage needs during any embargo interval. As such, it is expected to apply only to a minority of deposits (as the majority of journals already endorse immediate Open Access-setting.
The two accident-anecdotes come from University of Southampton and Université du Québec à Montréal:
Southampton has many IRs: A departmental IR (Department of Electronics and Computer Science) already has an immediate full-text deposit mandate, but the university-wide IR does not yet have a mandate, so it has many deposits for which only the metadata are accessible, many of them deposited via library mediation rather than by the authors themselves. This will soon change to direct author deposit, but meanwhile, "The Button" was implemented, and the result was such a huge flood of eprint requests that the proxy depositors were overwhelmed and the feature quickly had to be turned off!
The Button will of course be restored -- using LDAP to redirect the eprint requests to the authors rather than the library mediators -- but the accident was instructive in revealing the nuclear power of the button! Authors, we expect, will be gratified by the countable measures of interest in their work, and we will make a countable metric out of the number of eprint requests. Authors will be able to opt out of receiving eprint requests -- but we confidently expect that few will choose to do so! (Our confidence is based on many factors, take your pick: (1) Authors' known habit of looking first at the bibliography of any article or book in their field, to see "Do they cite me?" (2) Authors' known habit of googling themselves as well as looking up their own citation-counts in Web of Science and now in Google Scholar. (3) Employers' and funders' growing use of research performance metrics to supplement publication counts in employment, promotion and funding decisions...)
Much the same thing happened at UQaM but this time it was while a new IR was still under construction, and its designers were still just testing out its features with dummy demo papers (some of them real!). "The Button" again unleashed an immediate torrent of eprint requests for the bona fide papers, so the feature had to be (tremulously, but temporarily) disabled!
Increasing Institutional Repository Content with "email eprint" ButtonStevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
In order to give everyone a clear update on progress in the growth of Instititutional Repositories (IRs) and in order to encourage others to create IRs, could you please register your IRs in the Registry of Open Access Repositories ROAR.
And if your institution has a self-archiving policy, please register it in ROARMAP.
Before registering your IR in ROAR, please check whether it is already registered! This is also a good time to try some of ROAR's powerful new features for monitoring IR growth.
Thursday, November 16. 2006
Arthur Sale has received the University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Community Engagement for a variety of achievements, among them for being:
an internationally recognised and respected contributor to the debate around free access to publicly funded research through the Open Access movement...Bravo, Arthur!
The Charleston Advisor Awards are given in ten standard categories and special one-time awards are periodically given and labeled as a "special award."
Non-Librarian Working for Our Cause (Special Award)
Peter Suber - for his excellent work in managing the influential SPARC Open Access Forum (blog) and the Open Access Newsletter.
Tuesday, November 14. 2006
From Peter Suber's Open Access News
[Peter Suber, Open Access News]
2. Another OA recommendation for Australia[Peter Suber: Open Access News]
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