OA policies and their "weight"
harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Tue Jul 20 07:56:20 EDT 2010
Dear Reme, if I may also make an intervention in your exchange with
Steve Hitchcock about the MELIBEA OA policy evaluator:
The MELIBEA service is extremely timely and promising, and could be
potentially useful and even influential in shaping OA mandates -- but
that makes it all the more important to get it right, rather than
releasing MELIBEA prematurely, when it still risks increasing
confusion rather than providing clarity and direction.
You are right to point out that -- unlike the CSIC's University
Ranking and the Repository Ranking -- the policy evaluator is not
really a ranking. But you have set up the composite algorithm and the
graphics to make it a ranking just the same.
You are also point out, correctly, that the policy criteria for
institutions and funders are not (and should not be) the same. Yet,
with the MELIBEA coding as well as the algorithm, they are treated the
You also point out, rightly, that gold OA publishing policy is not
central to institutional OA policy making, yet there it is, as part of
the MELIBEA algorithm.
You also point out that the color code has nothing to do with the
"green" OA coding -- yet there it is, competing with the widespread
use of green to designate self-archiving, and thereby causing
confusion, both overt and covert.
I would be more than happy to give you feedback on every aspect of
MELIBEA -- it could be a useful and natural complement to the ROARMAP
registry of OA policies.
But as it is designed now, I can only agree with Steve Hitchcock's
points and conclude that consulting MELIBEA today would be likely to
induce confusion and would not help in bringing the all-important
focus and direction to OA policy-making that I am sure CSIC, too,
seeks, and seeks to help bring about.
Here are just a few prima facie points:
(1) Since MELIBEA is not, and should not be construed as a ranking of
OA policies -- especially because it includes both institutional and
funder policies -- it is important NOT to plug it into an algorithm
until and unless the algorithm has first been carefully tested, with
consultation, to make sure it weights policy criteria in a way that
optimizes OA progress and guides policy-makers in the right direction.
(2) For this reason, it is more important to allow users to generate
separate flat lists of institutions or funders on the various policy
criteria, considered and compared independently, rather than on the
basis of a prematurely and arbitrarily weighted joint algorithm.
(3) This is all the more important since the data are based on less
then 200 institutions, whereas the CSIC University Rankings are based
on thousands. Since the population is still so small, MELIBEA risks
having a disproportionate effect on initial conditions and hence
direction-setting; all the more reason NOT to amplify noise and
indirection by assigning untested initial weights without carefully
thinking through and weighing the consequences.
(4) A potential internal cross-validator of some of the criteria would
be a reliable measure of outcome -- but that requires much more
attention to estimating the annual size and growth-rate of each
repository (in terms of OA's target contents, which are full-text
articles), normalized for institution size and annual total target
output. Policy criteria (such as request/require or immediate/delayed)
should be cross-validated against these outcome measures (such as
percentage and growth rate of annual target output).
(5) The MELIBEA color coding needs to be revised, and revised quickly,
if there is to be an algorithm at all. All those arbitrary colors in
the display of single repositories as ranked by the algorithm are both
unnecessary and confusing. The objective should be to order and focus
clearly and intuitively. Whatever is correlated with more green OA
output (such as a higher level or faster growth rate in OA's target
content) should be coded as darker or bigger shades of green. The same
should be true for the policy criteria, separately and jointly: in
each case, request/require, delayed/immediate, etc., the greenward
polarity is obvious and intuitive. This should be reflected in the
graphics as well as in any comparative rankings.
(6) If you include repositories with no OA policy at all (i.e., just a
repository and an open invitation to deposit) then all you are doing
is duplicating ROAR and ROARMAP, whereas the purpose, presumably, of
MELIBEA, is to highlight, weigh and compare specific policy
differences among (the very few) repositories that DO have policies.
(7) The sign-up data --
-- are also rather confusing; the criteria are not always consistent,
relevant or applicable. The sign-up seems to be designed to make a
funder mandate the generic option, whereas this is quite the opposite
of reality. There are far more institutions and institutional
repositories and policies than funders. There should be separate
criterial lists for institutional policies and for funder policies;
they are not the same. There is also far too much focus on gold OA
policy and payment. If included at all, this should only be at the
end, as an addendum, not the focus at the beginning, and on a par with
green OA policy.
(8) There is also potential confusion on the matter of "waivers":
There are two aspects of a mandate. One concerns whether or not
deposit is required (and if so, whether that requirement can be
waived) and the other concerns whether or not rights-reservation is
required (and if so, whether that requirement can be waived). These
two distinct and independent requirements/waivers are completely
conflated in the current version of MELIBEA.
I hope there will be substantive consultation and conscientious
redesign of these and other aspects of MELIBEA before it is can
recommended for serious consideration and use.
On 2010-07-19, at 5:18 AM, Remedios Melero wrote:
> Dear Steve,
> I apologize for the delay in my response, but I will try to give some explanations to make clear some issues you raised in your message (my comments are in capital letters, to distinguish them from yours)
> El 15/07/2010 11:22, Steve Hitchcock escribió:
>> Reme, Thank you for bringing this new service to our attention. OA policies are vitally important to the development of institutional repositories, and services that can highlight and bring attention to this development can be valuable.
>> There are a few aspects of the validation aspects of the new MELIBEA service that confuse, and possibly trouble, me. The first is the main indicator, %OAval, which is the most visible result for a policy. What do you expect this will tell people about a given policy? I randomly selected a couple of policies, one of which was for my own school, to find they each scored about 50%. I would expect these to be among the leaders in terms of OA policies, so this seems a surprisingly unhelpful score.
>> So what's the explanation? Note that the objects being evaluated are institutional OA policies; they are effectively being presented in relation to institutional repositories when the policy specifies where to archive is an IR with a URL. It seems that the scores include ratings for OA publication policy, libre vs gratis OA, publisher pdf, sanctions (score if Yes), incentives (score if Yes), etc., some of which an institution might specify but which might not apply to an IR
>> . However you weight these factors they are still contributors to the overall score, so a policy that is specific to an IR is immediately handicapped, or appears to be unless there is more context to understand the scores.
> AS I WROTE BEFORE THIS IS NOT A RANKING, IT IS NOT THE AIM OF MELIBEA BUT TO HAVE A KIND OF REFERENCE ON WHAT TOPICS, ISSUES OR MATTERS TO BE INCLUDED IN AN OA POLICY. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES OF DIFFERENTE NATURE, NOT ABOUT REPOSITORIES POLICIES. IF THE POLICY ONLY TALKS ABOUT THE REQUIREMENT TO DEPOSIT IN A REPOSITORY, IT SHOULD SPECIFY WHAT, WHEN AND UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS, IF ANY. IT IS NOT THE SAME TO SAY WHAT DOCUMENTS AND WHAT VERSIONS AND WHEN THAN SIMPLY SAY " ANY" OR "AS SOON AS POSSIBLE" (this could be a month after publication or years after publication, depending on one's criteria). GOLD ROUTE, NEVER IS REQUIRED ACCORDING OUR APPROACH ("Gold (Recommended in OA journals") AND NOT ALL OA JOURNALS ARE SUPPORTED BY SAME ECONOMIC MODEL.
>> Which leads me to another question on the visualisation of the validator, and its use of green, gold (and red) in the meter. Do the green and gold refer the the classic OA colours? This would be quite convenient, since it would appear that the green repository policies I mentioned above are achieving almost full scores in the green zone of the meter. However, I suspect this cannot be the case, because it would assume that institutions must have a green AND gold policy, but not simply gold (whatever argument could be put for that).
> COLORS DO NOT MEAN THAT, WE WANTED JUST TO DISTINGUISH ZONES LIKE IT WERE A SPECTRA.
>> It is important that new services should help reveal and promote OA policies, as you seek to do, but at the same time not to prejudice the development of such policies by mixing and not fairly separating the contributing factors, especially where these relate to different types of OA.
> I DO NOT THINK WE ARE MIXING, IN FACT THERE TWO MODELS, ONE FOR UNIV. AND RESEARCH CNETRES AND ANOTHER FOR FUNDERS AND GOV. INSTITUTIONS AND THE QUESTIONS FOR THEM ARE DIFFERENT, for instance, FOR A FUNDER THE QUESTION ABOUT DEPOSIT O THESIS IS NOT APPLICABLE.
> IN SUMMARY, OUR MODEL COULD NOT BE "PERFECT" BUT I IS ONE, WHICH COULD DETECT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN REQUEST AND REQUIRE, WHO, WHAT , WHEN IF THERE ARE ANY INCENTIVES OR SANCTIONS ( this has not to be a negative point but to remember we should assume reponsible attitudes).
> However we will revise the model to see if we can make any improvement to make it clear, we are working also in a graph interface to show some data in graphical form.
> Best wishes
>>> R. Melero
>>> IATA, CSIC
>>> Avda Agustín Escardino 7, 46980 Paterna (Valencia), Spain
>>> TEl +34 96 390 00 22. Fax 96 363 63 01
>>> rmelero at iata.csic.es
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