Central versus institutional self-archiving.
NIH's, PLoS's, the Wellcome Trust's and now the UK MRC's unreflective support for PubMed Central (PMC), a Central Repository (CR), as the locus for direct self-archiving by authors is very unfortunate for Institutional Repositories (IRs), for self-archiving, and for Open Access (OA) progress in general. Alma Swan has published key papers on both OA self-archiving policy and institutional versus central self-archiving (IRs vs. CRs) analysing the reasons. (a) Institutional self-archiving and central self-archiving are at odds in the quest for a universal self-archiving policy solution that will cover all OA research output. (b) It would be awkward and inefficient to have a different external cross-institution CR as the locus of primary deposit for every funding area, subject area, combination of subject areas, or nation. (c) Researchers' own IRs are the most natural and efficient way to scale up to covering all of OA space from all disciplines, institutions and nations. (d) Direct central self-archiving is already obsolete in the OAI era of interoperable OAI-compliant IRs. (e) The optimal solution is for researchers to self-archive their own papers in their own OAI-compliant IRs and for CRs to be harvested from those distributed IRs. (f) Universities are in the best position to mandate self-archiving and monitor and reward compliance. (g) Mandating self-archiving in CRs instead simply creates an unsystematic and incoherent policy that does not scale up to covering all research output from all research institutions. (h) What the NIH, Wellcome Trust and MRC should be mandating is not direct depositing in PMC, but universal depositing in the fundee's own IR, from which PMC can then harvest collections.
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