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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I’ve heard reports that the journals Science and Nature want the metadata on forthcoming articles to be embargoed. In other words, they are saying that they do not want a repository version to become discoverable before the work is published, even if the article itself is not available through the repository.

I think this is really unhelpful. While the HEFCE mandate has a provision for this, are the publishers really saying that they fear the first-mover advantage on the repository and/or cannot make their own page for the article available with metadata upon acceptance?

The repository, for one, will be linking to the final article once a DOI has been given (ideally early upon acceptance). This gives a one-way link advantage to the publisher.

Perhaps, though, there are some reasons for this? Maybe the science is important and the publisher thinks that the embargo will make it possible for them to reach different media outlets and to ensure the broadest marketing of the work. Perhaps. I’m still not sure it’s a deal-breaker to have the metadata available in an institutional repository, though. Are you allowed to tell friends that the piece is forthcoming? Are you allowed to blog about it? I don’t know. All I do know is that I find the embargoes on the work itself to be very annoying. To embargo the metadata too and thereby hamper discovery of the work as soon as possible does not seem to be in the best interests of science.