All entries for Monday 14 December 2009

December 14, 2009

What does repository deposit mean?

Follow-up to Theses and early draft deposit in repositories: is that publication? from WRAP repository blog

Last week I attended a meeting with some publishers and it seems to me that there is considerable potential for confusion amongst those not involved in repository management, about what repository deposit actually means. The two main areas of confusion seem to be:

1) Not all content in all repositories is necessarily open access. Some repositories have metadata-only records along with some records which also have full text items available on open access. Some also have full text items that are locked such that only repository staff and the author can see them, or such that only members of the institution can see them. Some repositories add a "request a copy" button to their records so that those who can't see the locked full text can request it from the author. Sometimes the locked access is in order to meet a publisher's requirement or sometimes it is because the author prefers that requests are sent to him/herself so that s/he can know who is reading his/her work.

Publishers' agreements with authors and their information about what can and can't be done usually refer to whether repository deposit is allowed or not. I suspect that more of them would allow repository deposit if the article were locked to be accessible only within the institution or only to the author and repository staff.

2) Just because an item is available on open access, that does not mean that it is available for further copying by anyone! Publishers might also be more inclined to allow repository deposit and open access availability if they knew that allowing this is not granting permission for others to on-copy from the repository. Some repositories do also ask authors to grant a Creative Commons (CC) licence for the use of the article they deposit, and when this is the case then the article will also be available for further copying. Authors can do this when it is clear that they own the copyright themselves. Those repositories which do use the CC licence don't all expect every single item they hold to be deposited with such a licence, although perhaps that would be an ideal scenario. WRAP isn't one of those repositories which asks authors to sign a CC licence, for now. It would just be another hurdle to deposit and our main aim is to make the works available without subscription barrier.

Publishers' agreements with authors who have paid for their article to be made available on open access on the publishers' site do not state that repository deposit is also allowed, although it seems that (some, at least) do expect that to be the case without their stating it. Perhaps their agreements with the authors do grant copyright back to the authors and that's why they expect it, but it's not always clear to repository managers that this is the case.

We don't put open access articles into the WRAP repository unless permission is expressly granted by the publisher or clearly owned and granted by the author. Open access seems to have been conflated with waiving of copyright, but copyright still exists in open access works. BioMed Central are very clear that their open access articles can be further copied, and they state how, etc, so they're an example of how open access should be handled by publishers, in my opinion. This is another reason that I wouldn't consider deposit in WRAP to be a form of publication. WRAP has no copyright owndership over the works it holds: that still rests with the rights owners.

For WRAP, we are clear that we want full text, to be made available on open access for all journal articles and for as many PhD theses as possible. We don't have metadata-only records for journal articles but we do for theses, and we also allow theses to be deposited but locked to repository staff only. The works in WRAP are not made available with any particular licence and rights owners would still need to be consulted before further copying could be done.

It seems to me that there are so many different flavours of repository, all with ever so slightly different aims and purposes and so we're all doing slightly different things with them. No wonder there is so much potential for confusion! In any case, I was very glad to begin speaking to publishers as I did last week with some representatives from the Highwire publishers, in my role as Chair of the UK Council of Research Repositories.


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