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Repository Services

Value added services

In 2003, Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information defined a university-based institutional repository as “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”. Open Access repositories are more than just places to store content; their value lies in the services they provide to the community. As repositories have matured, the focus has moved beyond the basic services provided by the first generation repository platforms, towards the development of services that add value to repositories for authors and users. Value-added services can be automated or manual. Some of the existing value-added services available for repositories are discussed here:

Deposit Services

A successful repository is a repository that is regularly receiving content.  Self-archiving does not require a lot of time once an author is familiar with the process: however, an important barrier to self-archiving is “the perceived time required and possible technical difficulties”. (Swan, 2005). There are a variety of services aimed at reducing the workload for authors when depositing content, the idea being that “the easier it is for academics or departments to add content, the more likely they are to do so” (Barton, 2004). Some examples are provided below:

  • Mediated deposit services. Many authors simply will not spend the time to deposit their papers into their local repository. Repositories can offer services that deposit content and supply metadata on behalf of authors. The Edinburgh Research Archive, for example provides a ‘Mediated Deposit Service’ to help authors deposit their work. The service allows authors to simply e-mail their content to the library and library staff will then deposit the material on their behalf.
  • SWORD (Simple Web Service Offering Repository Deposit): The SWORD protocol Is an automated repository deposit protocol that is starting to be supported by a growing number repositories.
  • Journal publishing workflows. Much of what scholars publish is destined for scholarly journals, which in turn are typically reviewed and edited by those scholars. Repositories planning to host journals can build into the repository a functionality that allows users to review, compile, and publish journals directly in the repository. For example, BePress IR software has a built in publishing workflow.
  • Rights checking: Publishing agreements can be complex and convoluted, and authors need assistance in understanding their rights. These types of services can include everything from checking copyright permissions, negotiating with publishers, requesting final manuscript versions from faculty, and tracking all of this information in a database to eventually uploading the document with associated metadata.
  • Content harvesting: Some repositories are adding content to their repository by collecting the material themselves. Although resource intensive, this can be a good way of initially seeding the repository. At the University of Glasgow repository, for example, the repository staff identified the journals and publishers that permitted archiving in repositories, and then searched articles indexes to establish which of their authors had published in these journals. After establishing who the target authors were, they contacted them and used an opt-out strategy. Authors were told that their articles would be added to the repository unless they chose to opt-out. CERN harvests material from a range of approximately 90 external resources to further obtain complete coverage of its recent and current academic output, thus contending with researchers who deposit elsewhere and not into CERN’s own institutional repository.

Discovery Services

  • Search and browse: If users need to find content through a number of options, this enables them to find what they want more easily. These services can include full-text and metadata searching, as well as multiple browsing functionality, such as by date, author, community, and eventually by subject, funding agency, or document types. Customising the way content can be explored makes it more usable to a wider variety of users.
  • Alert services and RSS feeds: Searching for new materials requires a lot of time and has to be done regularly. Repositories can make things easier for users by enabling them to set up automatic alerts or RSS feeds when new material matching their profile is added to the repository.
  • Indexibility: Most users do not access the content in the repository through the repository search service, but rather via an external search engine (such as Google) that has crawled the repository. Repositories should make their content easy for search engines to index. For example, John Mark Ockerbloom explains in a recent blog entry, “(d)on’t hide things behind Flash or Javascript unless you don’t want them easily found.  Make sure your pages have informative titles, and the site doesn’t require excessive link-clicking to get to content.” The SHERPA project lists a number of things repository managers should avoid so that content can be indexed.
  • Metadata export: The OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) allows repository metadata records to be aggregated through OAI harvesting services. Repositories that wish be harvested by these types of services – an example of such a service is OAIster at the University of Michigan – must ensure they are OAI-PMH compliant and must be registered with the harvesting service.
  • Cross-repository services: There are a growing number of cross-repository services available that aim to improve the visibility of repository content. Many of these are national services, such as CASSIR, a cross repository service in India, or NARCIS, which harvests the content of Dutch repositories. The Intute Repository Search project in the UK is creating a platform that will pull together UK repository content. The project is developing a system that will allow advanced search and innovative access to the information, such as personalised alerts or repurposed content streams into other websites.

Access Services

  • Embargo management: Content submitted to a repository may be restricted by laws, policies, or contractual obligations that require the author to limit public access for a period of time.  The Immediate Deposit / Optional Access (ID/OA) Mandate recommends that “the author’s final, peer-reviewed draft of all journal articles is required immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no delays or exceptions; but whether access to that deposit is immediately set to Open Access or provisionally set to Closed Access (with only the metadata, but not the full-text, accessible webwide) is left up to the author, with only a strong recommendation to set access as Open Access as soon as possible”. See the section on institutional policies for more information on this topic. Repositories can offer services that allow authors to deposit and restrict access to their work.
  • Preservation: In implementing a repository, an organisation is making a commitment towards the stewardship of the content within. Few institutional repositories have yet undertaken the entire range of activities involved in digital preservation. There are, however, a growing number of projects investigating the feasibility of preservation in this context. For example, the Preserv and Preserv2 projects in the UK have been looking at preserving long-term open access to materials in institutional repositories (IRs). The RUBRIC Toolkit, sponsored by the Australian Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) captures the “best” of available advice, experience and outcomes available for institutional repository (IR) development in 2007 and is a valuable resource for repositories looking to implement preservation services.

Other Services

  • Usage Statistics: Researchers want their papers to be read, and usually as widely as possible. Repositories that offer usage statistics are providing a valuable service to authors, many of whom like to keep track of how many users are accessing their papers. Usage information is also very valuable when marketing the repository with researchers and administrators on campus. There are a number of international efforts to standardise the usage metrics across repositories. For example, the PIRUS project in the UK is formulating a COUNTER-compliant standard for publishers and repositories for the measurement of the usage of journal articles and other items.
  • Researcher Profiles: Researcher profiles are personalised webpages that showcase all of a researcher’s work. They often include a biography, description of research, awards and so on as well as a bibliography of the researcher’s publications which can be linked to the full-text in the repository. The DARE project in the Netherlands has been very successful in doing this. Researcher profiles were created for 217 of the top researchers working at participating repositories in the Netherlands. Called the Cream of Science, a personal page was set up for each researcher containing a photo, affiliation, research field(s) and specialty, awards and, if available, a link to their personal Web site. Added value is provided by the link to the most recent list of publications available through the repositories.

Further Information

Margaret Henty. Ten Major Issues in Providing a Repository Service in Australian Universities. D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2007. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may07/henty/05henty.html

Weenink, Kasja, Leo Waaijers and Karen van Godtsenhoven. A DRIVER’s guide to European Repositories. Amsterdam University Press. http://www.surffoundation.nl/smartsite.dws?ch=ENG&id=13526

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