Understanding Institutional Repositories (NAHSL 2010 Conference Report)

January 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2010, Professional Development | 4 Comments
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[The following is a report from NAHSL member Kieran Ayton on one of the breakout sessions he attended at NAHSL 2010.]

Mark Caprio’s Breakout Session: “Institutional Repositories: A Disruptive Response To an Established Paradigm”

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2010 NAHLS Conference at the beautiful Newport Marriott Hotel on October 25.  One of my favorite experiences was attending the breakout session by Mark Caprio (Digital Services and Cataloging Librarian at Providence College) on “Institutional Repositories: A Disruptive Response To an Established Paradigm.”  This presentation dealt with the importance of providing open access to scholarly research.  In an age where database vendors and publishers often hold tight reins over public access to scholarly research, Institutional Repositories can serve as a middle ground.

Institutional Repositories are huge online publicly accessible databases that are often housed on an institution’s web server and provide free access to archived copies of scholarly research and other publications.  Institutional Repositories can often be found at colleges and universities, where they post research performed by their faculty, staff, and students.  It is a new type of publishing model.

The current scholarly research paradigm is based on the old-fashioned print model where peer-reviewed and evidence based articles were exclusively available through journals.  Caprio notes that the digital, web based world we now live in has expanded the avenues through which we can disseminate this information.  Institutional Repositories can serve as host sites where individuals can freely acquire information that was previously only available through the gated world of publishers.

There are unique challenges that come with the Institutional Repository model.  It can be difficult to get authors interested in allowing their works to be posted.  Many times faculty promotions are based on the number of articles you have published in peer-reviewed journals.  Employers will not take an article published on an Institutional Repository as seriously.  However, after an article has appeared in a peer-reviewed journal there are many copyright issues that go along with it that severely limit how an author can use his or her content.  See the SHERPA / RoMEO website for an overview of publisher archiving policies:
http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeoinfo.html#colours .

For more information on Institutional Repositories see: The Case For Institutional Repositories: http://scholarship.utm.edu/20/

Kieran is Public Services Librarian at Peters Health Sciences Library, Rhode Island Hospital



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    Articles are not published in Institutional Repositories. They are published in peer-reviewed journals. Published articles are deposited in Institutional Repositories to maximize their usage and impact. Authors can can deposit all articles immediately upon acceptance for publication. Most journals (and almost all the top journals in every field) already endorse setting access to the deposit immediately as Open Access. If the author wishes to observe a publisher embargo on setting access to the deposit immediately as Open Access, they can set access as Closed Access, and can email eprints on request during the embargo.

    But it has been observed repeatedly that less that 20% of authors will deposit unless their institutions (or funders) mandate deposit. Hence the key to understanding both Open Access and Institutional Repositories is that deposit must be mandated.

    For mandating policy guidance, please consult EnablingOpenScholarship.

    Gargouri, Y., Hajjem, C., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research>. PLOS ONE 5(10)

    Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior Through University and Funder Mandates. In Parycek, P. & Prosser, A. (Eds.): EDEM2010: Proceedings of the 4th Inernational Conference on E-Democracy. Austrian Computer Society, 13-22

    Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access Mandates and the ‘Fair Dealing’ Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

  2. I agree with the above reader’s comment in regards to the fact that the primary role of institutional repositories is to provide a platform whereby articles can be collected and more easily distributed. I also agree with his point that without institutional and/or funding agency mandates, the percentage of authors choosing to deposit articles into repositories will remain low. It is simply not part of their established process and thus they often see it as “one more thing” in a series of too many things, that they have to do.

    I argue, however, with Stevan’s contention that IRs cannot also serve as publishing platforms. My institution’s IR is currently publishing two open access journals and we look to do more in the future. In this role, we HAVE eliminated any formal publisher from the publishing cycle. We are also hardly the only institution using our IR in this role. Thus, while Kieren’s placement of the sentence, “It is a new type of publishing model” may be a little misleading in the context of his piece, his point is still valid.

    Sally Gore, MS, MS LIS
    Head, Research & Scholarly Communication Services
    Lamar Soutter Library
    University of Massachusetts Medical School


    Institutional repositories are not peer-reviewed journals. If an institution hosts an Open Access journal, then it hosts an Open Access journal. Its repository is for its own research output. If that output is posted in the repository without peer review, it is not peer-reviewed journal content. If it is peer-reviewed by the institution’s own house journal, the peer review is of doubtful validity (it should be answerable to a neutral third party — which is what we mean by a journal).

    To repeat: Institutional Repositories are not a (peer-reviewed) publishing model; they are a means of providing access to the institution’s own published, peer-reviewed research.

    • Okay, Stevan, I believe we’re arguing semantics, but obviously your enthusiastic, i.e. bolded, ALL CAPS, reply indicates that this point means way more to you than to me. I believe institutional repositories can serve more than one purpose. You don’t. – Sally

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