What is an Institutional Repository

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What is an Institutional Repository

  • Institutional repositories are digital collections that capture and preserve the intellectual output of a single or multi-university community (Crow, 2002, p. 4)

  • An insitutional repository stores and makes accessible the educational, research and associated assets of an institution

  • Content is not limited to e-prints

    • Can also include
      • research data,
      • learning resources,
      • image collections and
      • many other different types of content

Repositories - Rationale


  • Scientific Progress in developing countries is significantly hampered by the high cost of subscribing to the scientific and medical journals (in particular) that are essential for research to flourish

  • Open Access Archiving – Means for Fast Track to Building Research capacity in developing countries and facilitate access

  • Open Archive can transform the research scene from one of isolation and magnetization, to one of inclusion and international cooperation

  • Initiative of Making sound archives available to wider academic community for fostering research, creativity and innovativeness


Repositories are Important

  • As an increasingly recognised means to capture, store and access the institutional knowledge base and intellectual assets which are growingly in digital form

  • Supports the open access goal of transforming scholarly communication and is becoming a major component in the evolving structure of scholarly communication

  • Enhances the visibility of and improves access to research outputs; encourages data re-use and collaboration

  • Potentials of repositories are being recognised by funding bodies worldwide and there is an international trend of funding bodies requiring publication of research results through repositories (RCUK, Wellcome Trust, The US - National Institute of Health)

Need for Preservation

  • “An institutional repository needs to be a service with continuity behind it …….

  • Institutions need to recognize that they are making commitments for the long term.” (Cliff Lynch, RLG DigiNews, 2004 )

  • Digital information is more vulnerable to potential loss due to dependence on technology – preservation actions required within very short timeframe

  • Digital information is easily altered - measures required to ensure its continued integrity & authenticity

  • Guarantee of long-term preservation gives authors more incentives to deposit content and enhances a repository’s trustworthiness

  • Long-term preservation and access to scholarly and education material should be an important strategic area for all Academic/Research organizations

Issues and challenges

  • Organisational & Managerial

  • Digital preservation does not yet form an integral part of the institution’s corporate / information strategy – lack of organisational infrastructure and skilled staff

  • Core funding for institutions does not grow in line with information growth; many institutional repositories rely on short-term project funding

  • Costs for preservation are in general difficult to calculate and are poorly understood (difficult to segregate costs for preservation from costs for access)

  • Organisational model – relationship between institutional repositories and external preservation agencies

  • What to preserve?

Issues and challenges

  • Technical

  • Focus of repository activities to date is not on preservation

  • Standards settling down

  • Little preservation metadata is currently being collected for content within the institutional repositories – lack of technical knowledge (in most cases)

  • Need for new shared services and information infrastructure)

  • Need for more automation and tools


    • Mix of national, perhaps regional and institutional services
    • Importance of records / information management - lifecycle approach
    • Many stakeholders and players– coordination and partnership with others
    • (Sort of) regulatory framework to mandate creation of Institutional repositories

Features & Functionality of IR

  • Key common features –IR

  • Contains digital content (born-digital or digitized)

  • Community-driven (members- Institution or Consortium)

  • Members - are also authors & copyright owners of content

  • Provides persistent access to deposited documents; & open access to its content, (with some exceptions)

  • Should be interoperable (for developing cross-archive aggregation and search services)

Features & Functionality of IR

  • IR also supports several specific functions

  • Registration of institutional users (authors)

  • Document submission

  • Approval/ moderation

  • Archiving

  • Dissemination

  • Administration

Setting up an IR

  • Requirements and Processes

  • Setting up and managing an IR is a serious, long term undertaking Human Resource

  • Useful to appoint an IR Manager -responsible for the IR

  • Other tasks that will require, typically, part time in nature, Personnel support are: user support, advocacy, training and proxy/ mediated submissions.

  • Infrastructure

  • Suitable IT and network infrastructure :

  • Software

    • Open Source
      • Greenstone http://www.greenstone.org/cgi-bin/library
      • Dspace http://www.dspace.org/
      • Eprints http://www.eprints.org/

Setting up an IR

  • Economics of IR

  • Cost components involved in setting up and maintaining an IR:

  • Start-up costs

  • Hardware (IR server, backup facility, network connectivity)

  • Software (free, if open source)

  • Installation and customization

  • Policies and procedures

  • Ongoing costs

  • Advocacy- getting content

  • Support- IR hardware and software, user support

  • Mediated submission

  • Upgrade/ migrations

  • Long-term costs

  • Digital Preservation

IR: Planning, Implementation & Execution

Access not an end but no. of challenges need to take care of (Value addition)

  • Access not an end but no. of challenges need to take care of (Value addition)

  • Information growth trends are global issues and are common to all

  • Pressures on information providers for digital preservation and continued access will continue to intensify over time

  • Institutional repositories also provide new opportunities for digital preservation

  • Future – digital preservation fully integrated into life-cycle of information management; not a separate activity

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