Self-Archiving for Dummies
The purpose of self-archiving is to make the full text of the peer-reviewed research
output of scholars/scientists and their institutions visible, accessible, harvestable, searchable and useable by any potential user with access to the Internet. The purpose of thus maximizing public access to research findings online is that this in turn maximizes its visibility, usage and impact -- which in turn not only maximizes its benefits to researchers and their institution in terms of prestige, prizes, salary, and grant revenue but it also maximizes its benefits to research itself (and hence to the society that funds it) in terms of research dissemination, application and growth, hence research productivity and progress. This is why open access is both optimal and inevitable.
To self-archive is to deposit a digital document in a publicly accessible website, preferably an OAI-compliant Eprint Archive. Depositing involves a simple web interface where the depositer copy/pastes in the "metadata" (date, author-name, title, journal-name, etc.) and then attaches the full-text document. Self-archiving takes only about 10 minutes for the first paper and even less time
for all subsequent papers. Some institutions even offer a proxy self-archiving
service, to do the keystrokes on behalf of their researchers. Software is
also being developed to allow documents to be self-archived in bulk, rather than
just one by one.
An Eprint Archive is a collection of digital documents. OAI-compliant Eprint Archives share the same metadata, making their contents interoperable with one another. Their metadata can then be harvested into global "virtual" archives, such as OAIster, that are seamlessly navigable by any user (just as a commercial index or abstract database is navigable, but with full-text access). The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has designed a shared code for metadata tags (e.g., "date," "author," "title," "journal" etc.). See the OAI FAQ. The full-text documents may be in different formats and locations, but if they use the same metadata tags they become "interoperable." Their metadata can be "harvested " and all the documents can then be jointly searched and retrieved as if they were all in one global collection, accessible to everyone.
Free Eprints software (itself using only free software) has been designed so institutions or even individuals can create their own OAI-compliant Eprint Archives . Setting up the archive only needs some space on a web server. Installing the Eprints software is relatively easy, and being made easier with each successive release of the software. It requires a little webmaster time to set up, and a little webmaster time to maintain. This investment is very small. The real challenge is not creating or maintaining an Eprint Archive, but ensuring that it is promptly filled with its target contents, which, for the BOAI, consists of pre-peer-review preprints and peer-reviewed, accepted postprints.
See the Institutional Archives Registry and List as well as the Registry of Institutional Self-Archiving Policies