Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 561.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 06:46:58 +0000
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Re: 16.555 Harnad on Lynch on institutional archives
I want to address some of the points raised by Stevan Harnard's in his
Clifford A. Lynch: "Institutional Repositories:
Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age"
I especially want to ask some questions about the statements stacked
against using the argument of the emergence of new ways of doing
scholarship [the translation of "forms" into "ways of doing" is mine
for the particular purposes here] as the rationale for investing in
Harnard sizes up the production:
There are 20,000 peer-reviewed research journals, across all disciplines
worldwide, publishing 2,000,000 articles annually. Almost all of these
articles are accessible to researchers (i.e., to their potential users)
only if their institution can afford the toll-access (subscription,
license) to the journal in which they were published.
The aggregate number appears daunting. I wonder what the "access" picture
would look like if the number were broken down on a per capita basis. How
many journals per discipline? How many articles per journal? How many
institutionally-backed reseachers per discipline? How many
corporate-backed researchers per discipline? How many articles with
multiple authors? How many of those articles represent work presented in
preliminary form in a variety of fora?
The networks of communication and production have permeable membranes. I
do want to emphasize the point that for the advancement of knowledge what
circulates need not be a complete, finished, peer-reviewed article. Indeed
such an article will point to other infosets.
To pick up the McCarty trader-merchant metaphor: it is important to pause
and think about not only the who we trade with (as does the toll-obsessed
Harnard) but also what we are trading/acquiring (thenew [or unfamiliar]
forms of scholarship).
Harnard himself points to a very important factor in scholarship review:
archiving the data sets that were not part of a published article.
Unfortunately this point gets lost in a shuffle around tolls and pitting
self versus institutional archives.
Not only is the institutional archive a supplement rather than a
substitute when it self-archives data that could not be included with
the published article, but it is a supplement even when it self-archives
the article: The self-archived open-access version is a supplement to the
journal's toll-access version, to maximize its research impact. It is not
a substitute for journal publication -- and certainly not a substitute
for peer review -- though it might one day become a substitute for
toll-access (for those who can afford it: for those who cannot, it
is already a substitute today!).</quote>
I do want to challenge the notion that access to products is the best way
for the university community "to make sure [research] findings are put to
full use". Harnard puts the pro-product position forcefully:
I agree again. It is not the business of universities to restructure the
economics of scholarly publishing. It is the business of universities to
do research, publish their findings, and make sure that those findings are
put to full use. Maximizing all would-be users' access to them is the
way to ensure the latter. And that might (but just might) eventually
have some effects on the economics of refereed journal publication. But
that would only be a side-effect, not the direct motivation or
justification at all: That direct motivation and justification is
to maximize the impact of institutional research output by making it
open-access -- by self-archiving it in the institutional repository.
Such dreams of plenitude threaten the univeristy's other critical mission:
education. The use of findings finds its place in process, in the
gathering together for exchange, to teach and to learn. Factories for
knowledge or laboratories for living.
There is an other set of tolls on the horizon: smart classrooms connecting
continents 24/7. There is an infrastructure to rent. Smart households -
there is an infrastructure to tap into. It is very much about
restructuring economics - what goes around - which is very much about
politics - who gets around. I don't mind those toll-barriers. It is a
great incentive for the responsible administrators to askthose paid to
read those articles to account for the quality of too much too fast.
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