[Irtalk] FW: [sparc-oaforum] Re: Ranking of repositories

Denise Nicholson Denise.Nicholson at wits.ac.za
Thu Aug 4 20:58:58 SAST 2011

Well done to UP.  
Interesting to see the perspective below from someone in Canada.


From: Jean-Claude Guédon [mailto:jean.claude.guedon at umontreal.ca]
Sent: Wed 2011/08/03 17:52
To: peter.suber at gmail.com
Subject: [sparc-oaforum] Re: Ranking of repositories

Personally, I regret these constant efforts to create "rankings" leading to the identification of "excellence". They completely distort the quality issues which, IMHO, are far more important. Would it not be much better to create evaluation thresholds corresponding to quality levels. This would encourage lower-level repositories to try moving up a category, and then perhaps two?

Some may object that category classifications are nothing more than rough, crude ranking. This is not false, but there is a distinction to be observed, however: quality thresholds do not put competition at the center of everything, and it does not rely on competition to identify quality. 

Some may think that competition is a good way to create quality, but this is not the case. Just to give an example: the US health system is largely dominated by competitive rankings of all kinds. This leads to two opposite results: the US has many of the best health centers in the world and a great many Nobel prizes in medicine; yet, the US ranks about 35th in the world for life expectancy, which is shockingly low. If one were to choose between having the medical champions of the world, versus having a population with a better general health, one would tend to prefer the latter. At least that would be my choice.

In other words, fighting for excellence as the over-arching principle of quality creation leads to the concentration of quality at the very top, and it often leads to the neglect of overall quality.

I believe science needs quality everywhere, and not just at the top. A bit of competition is also needed, but only at the very top, to stimulate the very best to go one step further. Competition everywhere does not work because those that cannot hope to come even close to the very best, the gold medals, simply give up.

Incidentally, OA corresponds to a massive vote in favor of quality, as the many discussions about quality control and peer review that are appearing in its wake demonstrate. Excellence is all right if it is limited to the very top of science, where the paradigm shifts occur. But most of science is not about paradigm shifting, far from it. Let us value excellence, but let us keep it also in its proper place. Meanwhile, let us grow quality all over and Open Access is a powerful tool to that end.

My two cents' worth.

Jean-Claude Guédon

Le mercredi 03 août 2011 à 10:04 -0400, Peter Suber a écrit :

	[Forwarding from Isidro F. Aguillo, via the AmSci OA Forum.  --Peter Suber.]

	The second edition of the 2011 Ranking Web of Repositories has been published at the end of July.  It is available from the Webometrics portal:
	The number of repositories is growing fast, especially in academic institutions from developing countries. As in previous editions the subject repositories still appear in the top positions, with large institutional ones following them.
	There are no relevant changes in this edition, but the editors are making a plea to the Open Access community regarding a few aspects related to intellectual property issues.
	The papers and other documents deposited in institutional repositories are probably the main asset of those institutions. As important as giving free access to others is the proper recognition of the authorship of the scientific documents. Unfortunately a few institutions are hosting their repositories in websites outside the main webdomain of its organization and many repositories are recommending to use systems like handle and others purl-like URLs for citing (linking) the deposited items. This means that moral rights regarding institutional authorship are ignored, relevant information about authors is missed and the semantic possibilities of the web address are not explored.
	Nowadays it is already common to add the URL address of the full text document in the bibliographic references of the published papers. Logically the link to the full text in the institutional repository can be used for that purpose, but researchers are facing options that ignore their institutional affiliation, with strange meaningless codes, prone to typos or other mistakes and pointing to metadata pages not to the full text documents. Obviously for authors it could be more profitable to host the papers in their personal pages instead doing it in institutional repositories whose naming policies have relevant copyright issues.
	Our position is that end-users should be taken into account, that web addresses are going to place in important role in citing behavior, that citations are the key tool for evaluation of authors, that institutions are investing large amounts of money in their repositories in exchange of prestige and impact and that providing permanent address is the duty of the institution, nor responsibility of external third-parties.
	Comments are welcomed
	Isidro F. Aguillo, HonPhD
	The Cybermetrics Lab
	Albasanz, 26-28 (3C1)
	28037 Madrid. Spain
	isidro.aguillo @ cchs.csic.es <http://cchs.csic.es/> 

Jean-Claude Guédon
Professeur titulaire
Littérature comparée
Université de Montréal

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