Developing Research Repositories

This session by Bill Hubbard (from Repositories Support Project)…

Bill starting with the ‘open access mountain’ – a hard climb, although seems like it will be worth it. Can we get to the top?

Open Access has laudable goals – lots of potential benefits – and we can see in some places it works – e.g. (perhaps only?) arXiv.

Bill says ‘open access journals are just like normal journals but with a different business model – open access repositories are different’.

Bill stressing that Open Access has data providers and service providers – and important to remember these two groups (I would whether one of the problems we have is not enough (compelling) services?)

Why did JISC fund Institutional repositories? Because not all subject communities will have the ability to run repositories, whereas there is an existing institutional infrastructure, also OAI-PMH still allows us to represent to the world a single point of entry.

Idea of location of material vs how you search has been incredibly difficult to get across – it really shouldn’t matter to people where the material is ‘located’, but people seem to care a lot! I agree this is a fundamental problem, although I’m not entirely convinced that institutional repositories were the right way to go (20/20 hindsight) – just going back to the previous session, this is about community. The communities exist around disciplines not necessarily around institutions. Obviously there is tension now with some funders mandating subject repositories rather than institutional repositories.

There is a lot support (a groundswell of support says Bill, then as an aside wonders why the phrase is groundswell – surely ground doesn’t swell? – see for etymology!)

So – where are we? Process of setting up repositories is ok, we can put things in, get things out, many of the ‘copyright’ issues are at least understood and not insurmountable. So – in general things going OK…

This is all very well, and Bill is good at presenting this stuff, but on the ground it doesn’t feel this positive – now Bill moving on to difficulties:

  • A good case is not enough – it won’t just happen because everyone agrees its a good idea
  • Copyright is an issue for many authors
  • Outstanding issues which people continue to worry about (with our without cause) – subject basis vs institutional; quality control, plagiarism
  • Don’t want to leave well established practices
  • Haven’t seen the services grow up around the data – e.g. search services (perhaps Google effect – stopping innovation by smaller players in this area)
  • Authors want others to do the work – happy to see it happen, but don’t necessarily want to do the work (quite understandably)

Also more obstacles:

  • Publication embargoes
  • copyright issues still there
  • loss of focus within repositories – many stakeholders – can take focus away from open access to research (I think there are some other issues here – focus on ‘repository software’ as opposed to OA I think is an issue, and will continue to cause us problems)

OK – where are we going?

  • Exposure for harvesting
  • Linkage to departmental pages
  • Linkage to personal pages (we do this at Imperial)
  • REF – citation and usage analysis
  • Beyond pdf – text and data-mining
  • Virtual Research Environments
  • Embedding into institutional workflows
  • Repository as a set of services
  • Staffing and management
  • Funder mandate compliance

Bill drawing analogy between library processes and repository – getting a book into the library depends on many different people being involved, inside and outside the library, ‘Repositories’ need to be embedded to this degree (I’d argue, and think Bill would agree, that it isn’t ‘repositories’ but services that need to be embedded – afterall with the library analogy we don’t talk about it in terms of the library management system)

Some stuff on next steps:

  • Mandates – support them, support compliance, integaration, stakeholder involvement
  • Focus – choose a clear path
  • Don’t muddy the waters with metadata only entries in your repository

Bill presents well, but this is really a session that would have been a fascinating debate, rather than a presentation – I think all the ground is relatively familiar, but the issues around it would have been good to debate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.