Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How the OA mandate came to ECS Southampton

Steve Hitchcock, Filling a repository: Caltech's low-hanging fruit, Eprints Insiders, September 6, 2006. Excerpt:  

Porter, George S., Let's Get it Started! Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Summer 2006

As long as content generation remains an IR's biggest, most pressing and most elusive task, it helps to share experience about what has worked in different cases. Caltech's George Porter advises targetting the low-hanging fruit: "To get an institutional repository up and running, librarians need to go where the content is, preferably content which will entail little effort to clear rights and permissions for distribution."
This is fine as one strategy...

Stevan Harnad has already pointed out that this view misses the mandating approach entirely. Within a departmental or school-based context, another vital ingredient is to find a champion among senior staff, ideally the head, not just to deposit content but to rally staff and set the group's agenda around the repository: give people something to do with the repository. It's more important that such people are champions for the repository, and for the group, than necessarily for OA.

That's what happened in ECS Southampton. Yes, we have champions for OA too, but those who made things happen locally were the heads of school and departments, not noted for their OA advocacy. Their call was based around the use the repository to build group bibliographies and prepare group-based research assessment submissions. At that time the heads may have been taking a calculated risk, but these ideas are more widely understood now, so this should not be the case any more.

Go for the low-hanging fruit too, but top-down works best.