As an administrator for an institutional repository with both full-text and metadata only records, there are three questions that I return to again and again:
- How to increase deposits of full-text?
- Is linking to an open access copy as good as hosting a copy?
- How careful should I be about copyright?
I haven’t found definitive answers to these questions. Here are my thoughts at the moment:
1. How to increase deposits of full-text?
Ask, and keep asking! For over two years I’ve been monitoring new papers published by University of Bath authors and requesting copies for our repository. Slowly but steadily the response rate is increasing. But overall, the rate of deposit is still disappointingly low. This is where I pin my hopes on funder mandates.
2. Is linking to an open access copy as good as hosting a copy?
Where there is a reputable and reliable open access copy of a publication elsewhere, I don’t think it’s worth spending time tracking down a copy and appropriate permissions to host it. Instead, I add a link flagged ‘free full-text’ to our metadata only record and consider my job done. We take these links into account when providing statistics on full-text access. But what constitutes a reputable and reliable open access copy? If the DOI links to an OA copy, that’s fine. PubMed, ArXiv: good enough for me. But what about research reports on charity or government websites? Often the copyright is held by the commissioning body, so linking is much easier than getting permission to host a copy. But how long before their website gets rearranged or simply disappears and my links break? Which leads me on to question 3:
3. How careful should I be about copyright?
I expect most of the copyright holders for these various reports and papers would be quite happy for the author to make a copy available from our repository. But getting that permission explicitly stated is time consuming. Should I just take the risk and upload a copy to our repository without asking for permission? Rely on our notice and take-down policy? I don’t because I know that, whether or not the rights holder minds, it breaches copyright. But this rigour works against my efforts to increase full-text deposit rates. I’m forever turning away proof copies, online first copies, and author’s personal use eprints explaining that although they’re not the final published version, they’re not the permissible author’s accepted version either. Is this admirable protection of my institution’s reputation? Or is it unhelpful hair-splitting? Copyright decisions are often a case of risk management: how much risk should I be willing to take to further open access?