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News from the open access movement

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on Nature Precedings

Mark Chillingworth, Is Nature Preceding the bandwagon? Information World Review, June 19, 2007.  Excerpt:

Nature Precedings, the new online service that allows scientists to publish unpublished manuscripts, conference papers and presentations onto a central repository has been warmly welcomed by The Cluetrain Manifesto author David Weinberger, but some information professionals disagree.

Timo Hannay, director of web publishing at Nature describes a "complement" to journals. He believes the problem with pre-prints and conference papers is that they are not "easy to share in a truly globally way (most repositories are institution – or funder specific) and you can't formally cite them (which is important because citation underlies the scientific credit system)". With Precedings Nature aims to offer a central global repository where material is easily discovered and citable.

"This is very cool," Weinberger says on his blog. "From CC to  DOI, it hits all the right notes." Because the service is from Nature, Weinberger believes the launch is a "big deal".

But Monica McCormick of North Carolina State University Library commenting disagrees, "why are you so enthusiastic… there are a large and growing number of university-based repositories". She believes that these repositories are easy to find and can be cited. "Nature is jumping on a bandwagon built by university libraries and scholars, and disingenuously claiming that their service is better. They have their undoubtedly high reputation to attract attention to their efforts, but how is Precedings genuinely distinct from hundreds of other digital pre-print repositories?

But Weinberger disagrees, "When one of the premier journals des this, it signals a new level of acceptance." 

Comment.  Weinberger and McCormick are both right.  Nature's entry into OA archiving helps the cause:  the more OA archives the better; the more OA content, the better; and the more journal support for OA archiving the better.  But 900+ university and disciplinary archives led the way and their contents are exactly as citable as those in Nature Precedings.