The View from the IR Trenches, Part 2

Today, we’ll look at an article about the challenges involved in populating an institutional repository:

Mackie, Morag. "Filling Institutional Repositories: Practical Strategies from the DAEDALUS Project." Ariadne, no. 39 (2004).

The DAEDALUS Project is at the University of Glasgow. This article is an especially interesting case study, and it details a number of useful, imaginative strategies for populating an IR.

Selected quotes from the article are below; the headings are mine. Caveat emptor: selected quotes are just that. It’s always a good idea to read the full paper. I would hope that these brief quotes entice you to do so.

Faculty Do Not Want to Deposit Works Themselves

Despite a generally encouraging response, this did not translate into real content being deposited in the repository. . . . We found that it was difficult to get staff to give or send us electronic copies of their papers, even when they had promised to do so. This was our first indication that while staff may be sympathetic many of them do not have the time or the inclination to contribute. They were happy to give us permission to do the work on their behalf, but could not commit to doing the work themselves. Clearly the advantages of institutional repositories were not yet sufficiently convincing to academics to persuade them to play an active part in the process.

Determining Which Articles Can be Legally Deposited Is Difficult and Time Consuming

[T]he majority of academics we contacted were happy for us to establish which of their publications could be added to the repository.

While an extremely useful resource and one that is growing all the time, the [SHERPA] list does not cover all publishers. . . . it has been necessary to track down policies from publishers’ Web sites, or to contact publishers directly where these do not exist or where they do not address the issue of whether an author is permitted to make his or her paper available in a repository. No two publisher polices are exactly the same, and many do not explicitly state what rights authors have in relation to repositories. . . . Interpreting publisher copyright policies is also a difficult area, particularly as there is no real precedent and no case law.

Where copyright policies did not exist or where they were unclear, we contacted the publishers directly and asked for permission. . . . Although some publishers reply quickly, others may take some weeks and some do not reply at all. We found that publishers were more likely to give permission for specific papers to be added than to outline their general policy on the issue. Consequently permissions for most articles have to be established on a case-by-case basis.

It Is Challenging to Identify Possible Depositors Using Open Access Journals

It would be useful to be able to identify additional content in other open access journals, but so far we have not found an easy way of doing this. The Directory of Open Access Journals. . . is very useful, but it does not enable searching by institution or author affiliation.

For IRs to Be Filled, Deposit May Need to be Mandated

Although we have succeeded in adding a reasonable amount of content to the repository we have also been offered significant amounts of content that cannot be added because of restrictive publisher copyright agreements. . . . This is a clear demonstration that major changes need to take place at a high level in order for repositories to be successful. Although some academics have taken the decision to try and avoid publishing in the journals of publishers with restrictive policies, this is still relatively rare. We can inform staff about the issues, but we cannot and should not dictate in which journals they publish. Change is only likely to happen if staff are required, either by the funding councils or by their institution, to make their publications available either by publishing in open access journals or in journals that permit deposit in a repository.

The View from the IR Trenches, Part 1

It may be helpful in understanding IRs to to examine some of the articles mentioned in yesterday’s "Early Adopters of IRs: A Brief Bibliography" posting in more detail.

Today, we’ll look at:

Andrew, Theo. "Trends in Self-Posting of Research Material Online by Academic Staff." Ariadne, no. 37 (2003).

This paper presents findings from "a baseline survey of research material already held on departmental and personal Web pages in the domain" (this is the University of Edinburgh’s domain).

Selected quotes from the article are below; the headings are mine. Caveat emptor: selected quotes are just that. It’s always a good idea to read the full paper. I would hope that these brief quotes entice you to do so.

Self-Archiving Disciplinary Differences Matter

As expected, there is a clear difference between academic areas. The average percentage of self-archiving scholars in each College supports this view. Within the College of Science and Engineering (S&E) this figure is 14.81%, which drops to 3.18% within Humanities and Social Science (HSS) and 0.32% within Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (MVM).

However, the situation is more complex than a simple trend of self-archiving being better established in S&E. Looking at the averages between Schools shows that even within Colleges there is a wide distribution of values. In S&E this ranges from 32.67% in Informatics to 6.99% in Engineering and Electronics. . . and in HSS from 12.70% in Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences to 0% in Divinity and Law . . . .

Even within individual Schools there is a noticeable change in self-archiving attitudes. For example, self-archiving percentages within the School of GeoScience range from 29.41% in Meteorology down to 0% in Geography. . . .

Disciplinary Archives May Not Be Generally Trusted

Considering the wide-ranging self-archiving trends between academic Colleges and even within Schools, it seems there is a direct correlation between willingness to self-archive and the existence of subject-based repositories. . . . because the ArXiv has become so successful . . . academics trust it as their ‘natural’ repository for self-archived material. The same degree of trust may not yet obtain in the case of the subject repositories mentioned above, which leads to additional self-archiving in home institution repositories. . . . where there is a pre-existing culture of self-archiving eprints in subject repositories, scholars are more likely to post research material on their own Web pages, until such time as those subject repositories become trusted for their comprehensiveness and persistence.

Low Number of Preprints Found on Personal Web Pages

A surprising finding from the baseline survey is the relatively low volume of preprints found on personal Web pages. This could be related to the success of eprint repositories. . . . Preprints do not have anywhere near the same impact factor as those papers from accredited journal titles, so it is possible that researchers would favour only putting their most impressive work in their online CV.

Scholars Are Confused by Copyright Agreements

One aspect of the survey that is not shown in the results is the lack of consistency in dealing with copyright and IPR issues that scholars face when placing material online. Some academic units have responded by not self-archiving any material at all. . . . A small percentage of individual scholars have responded by using general disclaimers that may or may not be effective. Others, generally well-established professors, have posted material online that is arguably in breach of copyright agreements. . . . Most, however, take a middle line of only posting papers from sympathetic publishers who allow some form of self-archiving. It is apparent that if institutional repositories are going to work, then this general confusion over copyright and IPR issues needs to be addressed right at the source.

Early Adopters of IRs: A Brief Bibliography

In "Two Views of IRs," I discussed institutional repositories in the abstract. A useful exercise, but we don’t need to just conjecture about how IRs will be structured and supported. Nor do we need to simply speculate about the issues that they will face. IRs exist, and we can "ask" their managers these questions by examining the articles that have been written about them. (Yesterday’s "ARL Institutional Repositories" posting provides another way to investigate operational IRs: try them out.)

Below is brief bibliography of interesting articles about IRs that are notable for providing insider views. You’ll note that many of them are about UK IRs. The UK has been in the forefront of the IR movement.

Andrew, Theo. "Trends in Self-Posting of Research Material Online by Academic Staff." Ariadne, no. 37 (2003).

Ashworth, Susan. "The DAEDALUS Project." Serials 16, no. 3 (2003): 249-253.

Ashworth, Susan, Morag Mackie, and William J. Nixon. "The DAEDALUS Project, Developing Institutional Repositories at Glasgow University: The Story So Far." Library Review 53, no. 5 (2004): 259-264.

Barton, Mary R., and Julie Harford Walker. "Building a Business Plan for DSpace, MIT Libraries’ Digital Institutional Repository." Journal of Digital Information 4, no. 2 (2003).

Baudoin, Patsy, and Margret Branschofsky. "Implementing an Institutional Repository: The DSpace Experience at MIT." Science & Technology Libraries 24, no. 1/2 (2003): 31-45.

Foster, Nancy Fried, and Susan Gibbons. "Understanding Faculty to Improve Content Recruitment for Institutional Repositories." D-Lib Magazine 11, no. 1 (2005).

Hey, Jessie. "Targeting Academic Research with Southampton’s Institutional Repository." Ariadne, no. 40 (2004).

Mackie, Morag. "Filling Institutional Repositories: Practical Strategies from the DAEDALUS Project." Ariadne, no. 39 (2004).

Nixon, William J. "DAEDALUS: Freeing Scholarly Communication at the University of Glasgow." Ariadne, no. 34 (2003).

________. "The Evolution of an Institutional E-Prints Archive at the University Of Glasgow." Ariadne, no. 32 (2002).

Soehner, Catherine. "The eScholarship Repository: A University of California Response to the Scholarly Communication Crisis." Science & Technology Libraries 22, no. 3/4 (2002): 29-37.

ARL Institutional Repositories

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of operational institutional repositories at ARL libraries. This list was complied by a quick examination of ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented with a bit of Google searching. I certainly wouldn’t claim that it’s comprehensive, and I would welcome additions. (Quick note to ARL library Web site managers: put a highly visible link to your IR on your home page.)

While not perfect (what is?), this list does give us a rough snapshot of the level of IR activity in ARL libraries, and it provides some insight into how these large research libraries have chosen to structure and support their IRs (can you say bepress and DSpace?).

Two Views of IRs

Yesterday, Stevan Harnad offered extensive comments on my "Not Green Enough" posting. Here are my thoughts on those comments.

The crux of the matter is two very different views of institutional repositories (IRs), and, therefore, different perceptions about how quickly IRs will solve the self-archiving problem. My apologies in advance to Stevan if my capsule summary of his position is incorrect.

In Stevan’s view, the sole purpose of an IR is to provide free global access to e-prints. Once institutions adopt the Berlin 3 recommendations (which require faculty to self-archive in IRs and encourage them to publish in OA journals), establishing and running an IR is a cheap, simple technical problem. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether publisher copyright agreements allow scholars to archive in disciplinary archives or in the Internet Archive’s universal repository. (I’m unclear about Steven’s position about independent scholars who will never be able to self-archive in an IR because they are not affiliated with any institution or about researchers who are affiliated with non-academic institutions that will never have IRs. Perhaps, in the last case, he believes that IRs will be universal for every non-academic institution.) IR managers who hold other views are obstructing progress because they are wasting time on nonessential issues, not correctly perceiving the urgency and simplicity of his self-archiving solution, and unnecessarily delaying the progress of OA.

My view of the basic function of an IR is best summed up by two quotes (the first by Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information) and the second by me:

"In my view, a university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution." [1]

"An institutional repository includes a variety of materials produced by scholars from many units, such as e-prints, technical reports, theses and dissertations, data sets, and teaching materials. Some institutional repositories are also being used as electronic presses, publishing e-books and e-journals." [2]

Given this vision of IRs, I see them as more technically complex than Steven. However, I see the primary challenges being in the areas of achieving buy-in from university administrators and faculty, establishing a wide range of policies and procedures (e.g., acceptable types and formats of material, deposit control and facilitation strategies, copyright compliance procedures, and metadata utilization), recruiting content (including depositing items for faculty if required to help populate the IR), providing user support and training, and providing data migration services as file formats become obsolete. Of course, if IRs a assume formal publishing role, this adds new dimensions of complexity, but I’ll defer that point for now since it is only being done in a few IRs, such as the following two examples:

eScholarship Repository

Internet-First University Press at Cornell University

(To clarify one point of confusion, libraries are not generally expecting IRs to solve the e-journal preservation problem. They are turning to solutions such as LOCKSS to do that.)

I do not believe that getting faculty to voluntarily deposit e-prints will be easy. I’m not convinced that most university administrators are going to be quickly and effortlessly persuaded to endorse Berlin 3 unless it is, in effect, externally mandated (e.g., Research Councils UK proposal).

I think that at least a significant subset of universities will want some type of basic vetting of the copyright compliance status of submitted e-prints, and, given the current wide range of variations in publisher copyright agreements and a relatively low level of faculty awareness and interest in copyright matters, that this will be a thorny issue (and one that directly relates to my standard copyright agreement idea).

This is why Johanneke Sytsema of Oxford University said in her comment about "How Green Is My Publisher"

"I do agree with Charles Bailey that ‘green’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘go’. Being a repository manager myself, I never just ‘go’ when I encounter ‘green’ on the (invaluable) SHERPA Romeo list. First, I need to check whether the publisher allows archiving into an institutional repository, rather than just on a personal or departmental website. Secondly, I need to check the permitted format: some publisher[s] object to using the publisher PDF, other publishers require the use of the publisher PDF. Thirdly, I need to check on publisher policies every time I deposit, since publishers may change their policy from day to day. So, could the light get greener than it is now? I believe, it should."

Given my view of IRs, I agree with University of Rochester IR manager Susan Gibbons, when she says that the "the costs and efforts involved in maintaining an IR are substantial."

Which of these two views of institutional repositories will prevail? Time will tell.

If my view prevails, IRs will take longer than if Stevan’s view prevails. Academic authors who have papers accepted by publishers with restrictive author copyright agreements (i.e., those that bar deposit in disciplinary archives or in the universal repository) will have to wait to deposit papers in an OAI-PMH compliant archive. Lacking a way to self-archive with relative ease, they may simply choose not to do so. Non-academic authors may never be able to deposit their papers in an OAI-PMH compliant archive.

If Stevan’s view prevails, IRs will pop up like mushrooms and the above won’t matter, as long as authors enthusiastically deposit their old papers once their IRs are in place.

If the only barrier is a small investment of time and money (as Stevan describes below), it’s unclear to me why we don’t have universal IRs today:

"The 94% of authors at archiveless universities are one $2000 linux server plus a few days’ one-time sysad set-up time and a few annual sysaddays’ maintenance time away from having an institutional repository."

But, I say, Godspeed, Stevan. Prove me wrong, for that will mean that OA happens sooner, and scholars without access to IRs will be deprived of the benefits of depositing in an OAI-compliant repository (or depositing at all) for a shorter period of time.

And, I cheerfully give Steven the last word on the matter (for now anyway).

1. Clifford A. Lynch, "Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age," ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, no. 226 (2003),

2. Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2005), xviii,

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