Push or pull?

A brief comment, as I hop across the North Sea back to Bristol.

With the news that arXiv will now accept deposits from institutional repositories, Dorothea Salo continues her theme about a deposit flow which goes from author, to institutional repository, to subject/discipline repository. Dorothea offers some scenarios, including:

Achaea University adopts a Harvard-style open-access mandate. If she wants her articles in arXiv as well, Dr. Troia must rather annoyingly dual-deposit… unless Achaea’s IR implements a deposit pipeline to arXiv, in which case the most she has to do is tick a ticky-box (and I can imagine ways to abstract away the ticky-box).

In an abstract sense I appreciate the notion of the ‘deposit pipeline’. I also agree with the main point which is about the direction of the flow. Indeed, I have previously characterized the institutional repository as being, or more usually containing, the source repository. However, I remain slightly doubtful about the need for the flow to be initiated by the source. If there were some mechanism by which the subject/discipline repository could be alerted to the appearance of relevant materials in the institutional repository, then doesn’t it make sense for the subject repository to fetch the record/artefact, rather than wait to have it sent. Well, we already have the mechanism, it’s called RSS (or Atom) and it’s already supported by some of our most popular repository software.

Come to think of it, an even better approach might be for the subject repository, having been alerted to a new & relevant deposit in the institutional repository, to simply maintain a pointer to the original (optionally creating new and related resources)

In other words, as a certain generation of programmers would put it, pass by reference, not by copy.



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