Yesterday, Stevan Harnad took the time to comment extensively on my "How Green Is My Publisher?" posting. Thanks for doing so, Stevan. Here are some further thoughts on the matter.
CB:My publication page, check. We don’t have an institutional repository yet, but I assume that "other external Web site" will cover that when we do, check. Wait a minute, what if I want to deposit the e-print in a disciplinary archive like E-LIS or I want to put it in the Internet Archive’s upcoming "OAI-compliant ‘universal repository‘"? Looks to me like I’m out of luck. No way to immediately deposit the paper in an OAI-PMH compliant archive that will have a longer life than my Website and that can be harvested by OAI-PMH search services, such as OAIster.
SH: "The restrictions on 3rd-party archives are perfectly reasonable and no problem whatsoever at this time. The problem today (just so we keep our eyes on the ball!) is the non-archiving of 85% of articles, hence their inaccessibility to all those would-be users whose universities cannot afford access to the journal’s official version! It is cheap and easy for any university to create an OAI-compliant institutional archive, and OAIster can happily harvest the metadata.
eprints.org’s Institutional Archives Registry currently shows a total of 424 archives. When we browse by archive type, we discover that there are 192 "Research Institutional or Departmental" registered archives worldwide. Of course, “Departmental” archives are not institutional repositories. They do not have an institutional scope of coverage, nor are they as likely as institutional archives to be permanent. True, departments are relatively stable, but their commitment to maintaining archives may not be (e.g., the archive may be the pet project of one or a few faculty members). By contrast, once an institution commits to having an archive, it’s likely to be a more permanent arrangement, especially if it is run by a library.
But, let’s wave our hands, and say 100% of them are institutional repositories (IRs). Universities Worldwide, which is "based on the ‘World List of Universities 1997’ published by the International Association of Universities (IAU) and links discovered or posted here," currently lists 7,130 universities in 181 countries. Assuming that this is a good rough approximation, that means that about 6% of all universities have IRs. Meaning, of course, that 94% do not.
And that means that 94% of authors at universities cannot self-archive in an institutional repository (or, given the hand waving, in a departmental archive). True, they can self-archive on personal Web pages. The issues with this strategy are: (a) how may authors have up-to-date publication pages or have publication pages at all?, (b) how long will they last (i.e., authors change jobs, retire, and die)?, and (c) there is no OAI-PMH access to those pages, so they don’t show up in OAIster and similar search engines.
Now, disciplinary archives and the Internet Archive’s universal repository solve these problems. Moreover, they solve another problem: independent scholars, corporate researchers, and other non-academic authors may never have an institutional repository to self-archive in.
I don’t see this as "no problem whatsoever at this time." Quite the contrary. To be "no problem," we would have to believe that it doesn’t matter if articles are archived in OAI-PMH compliant repositories or archives. To be "no problem," we would have to not care whether scholars who will never have an institutional repository at their disposal can self-archive.
As to the question of it being "cheap and easy for any university to create an OAI-compliant institutional archive," I think there is some difference of opinion on that point. Susan Gibbons says  the "the costs and efforts involved in maintaining an IR are substantial," and she provides these annual IR cost estimates:
- $285,000, MIT
- $100,000 (Canadian), Queens University (for staffing only)
- $200,000, University of Rochester
- between 2,280 and 3,190 staff hours,University of Oregon
But, of course, these differences in perception about costs relate to some degree to Stevan’s next point:
SH: (And worrying about the preservation of non-existent contents is rather putting the cart before the horse. The self-archived OA versions of a goodly portion of the 15% of the articles that have been self-archived in the past 15 years are still online and OA to tell the tale to this day. All their publishers’ official versions are too. So fussing about the permanence of the non-contents of cupboards that are in any case meant to be access-supplements, not the official version of record, is rather misplaced, when what is immediately missing and urgently needed is their presence, not their permanence.)
I think that Stevan will find that few academic libraries are not going to worry about permanence. Not only will they worry about the permeance of digital objects in their repositories, they will also worry about the permanence of publisher’s archives. Librarians know that publishers are corporations, and that corporations change priorities, merge, and fail. As libraries increasingly abandon print subscriptions and go e-only for economic reasons, at some point there will be no permanent distributed print archive of new journal issues in libraries worldwide as there is today, and libraries are going to worry about that a great deal. Moreover, universities are not going to establish institutional repositories just to support OA. That may be one important item on the agenda, but there will be other archiving needs to be met as well, and factors associated with those digital objects will affect the perception of the need for overall IR preservation too.
Libraries are also going to provide new services to provide IR support in addition to technical support, ranging from convicting faculty to self-archive and helping them do so to training users in using IRs (as well as other e-print services worldwide). These services will cost money.
Don’t want libraries to lead the IR effort if this is true?
In the words of Bob Dylan:
I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn’t drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, "Good luck."
CB: “The agreement also states that the e-print must contain a fair amount of information about the publisher and the paper: the published articleâ€™s citation and copyright date, the publisherâ€™s address, information about the publisherâ€™s document delivery service, and a link to the publisherâ€™s home page.”
SH: That’s just fine too. It is only good scholarly practice to provide the full reference information and to link to the official version of record for the sake of all those potential users who can afford it. What is wrong with that, and why would any author not want to do that?
Sure, an author would want to provide a citation to the published paper and a link to it, but I suspect few will be excited about providing a fair amount of advertising information for the publisher in their e-prints, such as the publisher’s address, home page, and document delivery service. It’s not a deal killer, but it’s more work for authors or IR staff. The more individual publisher variations that there are in copyright transfer agreements, the harder it is for scholars and IR staff to meet these varying requirements.
CB: Second, it would be helpful if such directories could identify whether articles can be deposited in key types of archives. I know that we don’t want the color codes to look like SpeedyGrl.com’s Ultimate Color Table, but I think that this is an important factor in addition to the type of e-print permitted.
SH: They already do. The main distinction is the author’s own institutional archive versus central (3rd-party) archives. It is the former that are the critical ones. The rest can be done by metadata harvesting.
The SHERPA colors do not make this distinction. Neither do the otherwise helpful notes. You must look at each specific agreement (if there is a link to it).
CB: Fourth, although copyright transfer agreements have always been a confusing mess, now we want authors to actually read and evaluate them, not just mindlessly sign them like they did when digital archiving wasn’t an issue. And institutional repository managers (or archive managers) need to make sense of them post facto to determine if articles can be legally deposited and what terms apply to those deposits. So, maybe it’s time to tilt at a new windmill: a set of standardized copyright transfer agreements. I know, it’s like trying to herd several thousand hyperactive cats. But, a few years ago, getting standardized use statistics for electronic resources from publishers seemed hopeless, and some progress has been made on that score.
SH: No, it’s not more windmills or red herrings that researchers, their institutions, their funders, and research itself need: What they need is to go ahead and self-archive.
Developing clear, understandable standard copyright transfer agreements is a red herring? Let’s look at just one aspect of the problem: IR managers’ copyright concerns. I offer some quotes:
"One aspect of the survey [baseline survey of research material already held on departmental and personal Web pages in the ed.ac.uk domain] that is not shown in the results is the lack of consistency in dealing with copyright and IPR issues that scholars face when placing material online. Some academic units have responded by not self-archiving any material at all. A rather worrying example of this is the School of Law (—do they know something that we don’t?) A small percentage of individual scholars have responded by using general disclaimers that may or may not be effective. Others, generally well-established professors, have posted material online that is arguably in breach of copyright agreements, e.g. whole book chapters. Most, however, take a middle line of only posting papers from sympathetic publishers who allow some form of self-archiving. It is apparent that if institutional repositories are going to work, then this general confusion over copyright and IPR issues needs to be addressed right at the source." 
"Filling a repository for published and peer-reviewed papers is a slow process, and it is clear that it is a task that requires a significant amount of staff input from those charged with developing the repository. Although we have succeeded in adding a reasonable amount of content to the repository we have also been offered significant amounts of content that cannot be added because of restrictive publisher copyright agreements. In some cases academics have offered between ten and twenty articles and we have not been able to add any of them to the repository. This is a clear demonstration that major changes need to take place at a high level in order for repositories to be successful." 
Certainly, all OA advocates are eager to get on with the business of doing OA vs. simply reflecting on it, and few have done as much as Stevan to advance the cause, but, in my view, the issues I’ve raised warrant further consideration and action.
1. Susan Gibbons, "Establishing an Institutional Repository," Library Technology Reports 40, no. 4 (2004): 54, 56.
2. Theo Andrew, "Trends in Self-Posting of Research Material Online by Academic Staff." Ariadne, no. 37 (2003),
3. Morag Mackie, "Filling Institutional Repositories: Practical Strategies from the DAEDALUS Project," Ariadne, no. 39 (2004),