Irony abounds

thesis by cowlet
Case study of the IR at Robert Gordon U:
[Via Open Access News]

Ian M. Johnson and Susan M. Copeland, OpenAIR: The Development of the Institutional Repository at the Robert Gordon University, Library Hi Tech News, 25, 4 (2008 ) pp. 1-4. Only this abstract is free online, at least so far:

Purpose -The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of OpenAIR, the institutional repository at the Robert Gordon University.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper outlines the principles that underpinned the development of the repository (visibility, sustainability, quality, and findability) and some of the technical and financial implications that were considered.

Findings – OpenAIR@RGU evolved from a desire to make available an electronic collection of PhD theses, but was developed to become a means of storing and providing access to a range of research output produced by staff and research students: book chapters, journal articles, reports, conference publications, theses, artworks, and datasets.

Originality/value -The paper describes the repository’s contribution to collection development.

And it only costs £13.00. So an article describing an open archive is not itself open. What a shame because open archives will be the way to go. Learning how an organization put one together, especially one that contains more than just journal articles, would be useful.

But it did lead me to this which describes two organizations that will serve as open archives for any paper for which the authors has retained copyright. What it also makes clear is that most researchers still maintain the rights for any preprint versions of the work.

That is, the only copyright that is usually transferred is the one that was peer-reviewed and approved, Any previous version can be archived, At least for most journals. If the work was Federally funded, most journals permit archiving the approved version after a limited embargo time, such as 6 months.

There is a database that details the publication policies of many journals. Ironically, there is no copyright information for Library Hi Tech news, the publication containing the OpenAIR article.

Let’s look at some others.

For instance, Nature Medicine permits archiving of the pre-print at any time and the final copy after 6 months. They require linking to the published version and their PDF can not be used. So just make your own.

On the other hand, Biochemistry restricts the posting of either the pre- or post-print print versions. A 12 month embargo is imposed only for Federally funded research. Others apparently can never open archive. The only thing that can be published at the author’s website is the title, the abstract and figures.

Let’s see one journal allows reasonable use of the author’s copyright to permit open archiving and the other only permits what is Federally mandated. I’m going to investigate this database further because my choice for journals to publish in will depend on such things as being able to use open archiving.

If my work is behind a wall, it will be useless in a Web 2.0 world. Few will know about it and others will bypass it. Just as the work on OpenAIR is not as useful as it should be.

More irony. Susan Copeland, one of the OpenAIR authors, has done a lot of work on online storage and access to PhD theses. She is the project manager for Electronic Theses at Robert Gordon University and received funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), as part of the Focus on Access to Institutional Resources Program(FAIR). She just received the 2008 EDT Leadership award for her work on electronic theses.

She has done a lot of really fine work making it easier to find the actual work of PhD students, something of real importance to the furtherance of science. Yet her article detailing some of her own work is not openly available to researchers.

And finally, ironically, the organization that funded some of her work, JISC, also funds SHERPA, the same database that I used to examine the publication issues of many journals.

In a well connected world, irony is everywhere.

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