Eprints FAQ -- Stevan Harnad Stephen Clark 12 Sep 2002 15:44 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 16:29:31 +0100 (BST)
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Subject: Eprints FAQ

 > On Thu, 12 Sep 2002, [Identity Removed] wrote:
 > Dear Professor Harnad,
 > My name is ---- and I am interested in the creation of a preprints
 > database. I have heard about your great preprints initiatives and I have
 > visited the Cogprints website as well to find out more information. After
 > talking to Mr Christopher Gutteridge, he kindly recommended me to ask
 > for your opinion about the following issues:
 > Conception:
 > Why did you decide to create the preprints database? What is the main
 > purpose of this?

It is not a preprints database. It is an eprints database (archive,
Eprints = unrefereed preprints + refereed (published) postprints

I was merely one of many researchers in the past decade who noticed
that the online medium has now made it possible to provide open-access
(toll-free online access) to the entire refereed research literature,
before and after peer-review/publication -- 20,000 journals, 2,000,000
annual articles.

See Peter Suber's Timeline:

Budapest Open Access Initiative:


 > What do you think about the future of the preprints within the academic
 > community?

I don't think about unrefereed preprints in isolation; refereed
postprints are far more important. But the optimal and inevitable
outcome is clearly open access to both -- all annual 2,000,000 articles
in the 20,000 refereed journals, in all disciplines and around the

Nor is the reason inflating library serials costs (worrying though they
are). The reason is lost research impact:

 > Have you managed to obtain support from key members of the academic
 > community?

The open-access movement has coalesced into the BOAI, supported by the
Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation

It is now also supported by SPARC

and by a growing worldwide momentum among research institutions:


Our own open-access projects at Southampton have been receiving support
from NSF, JISC, DNER, and OSI:


 > How did you obtain support from them?

By normal grant application. Please go to the relevant NSF Digital
Library, JISC and BOAI websites for application information.

 > Resources:
 > How much of your time is required to run the database, upload files,
 > etc per week?

The software runs itself. Ask Chris how much sysad time they take up
(not much). I happen to moderate the deposits in CogPrints, and alas
that does not yet take up much time at all, as CogPrints only has 1500
papers so far. But CogPrints is a central, discipline-based Eprint
Archive. We have greater expectations from distributed institutional
archives. For their resource-demands see:


and ask Chris Gutteridge.

 > What knowledge (IT, programming, etc) and equipment is required?

Please see the information on the eprints pages:


 > How to set up the database keeping control of it? Is it recommendable
 > to talk to INGENTA's staff about running the software?

See the above articles about setting up Eprints Archives.

Whether you consult INGENTA depends on whether or not you want to
outsource it. But INGENTA is not ready yet, so I suggest you talk
to current implementers (and the eprints-implementers list):


 > Who is in charge of editing/reviewing the items?

Journals handle peer review and editing. Eprint archives are not
journals. The individuals vetting the input buffer merely check whether
the material is appropriate for the archive and whether the metadata are

 > Funding:
 > How much capital is necessary to tie up to provide a good quality

Very little. See the articles above.

 > How are you funding the preprints project?

I think I've replied to that already. See links.

 > Other sources of funding?


 > Is it making or losing money?

Neither. We are using the research funding we receive to design and
build resources that institutions worldwide can use to create their own
institutional Eprint Archives. The objective is to use only free,
open-source software, and to make the archiving as simple and
labor-unintensive as possible. It is all meant to increase research
visibility and impact, which is a source of potential research revenue
for researchers and their institutions. The archiving costs per paper
are negligible; and there are potential (serials budget) savings too.

 > Will it self-funded or government funded for the next five years?

The developmental work will go on with research support. The
institutional archives themselves should have no trouble being

 > Plus any other information of interest.
 > Thank you very much for your help in advance.
 > I look forward to hearing from you.

I think you'll find all the rest in the links provided.

Good luck,

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02):


Discussion can be posted to: september98-forum@amsci-forum.amsci.org

See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

and the Free Online Scholarship Movement: