The Beginning of Institutional Repositories

SUMMARY: Most researchers surveyed report that they do not yet deposit their papers in their Institutional Repositories (IRs), but if deposit were mandated by their institutions or funders, 95% of them say they would deposit, 14% of them reluctantly, 81% willingly. Outcome studies have confirmed that researchers actually do as they say when surveyed: Within about two years an IR with a deposit mandate is well on the way to filling. Of the 777 IRs registered in ROAR the overwhelming majority are very far from full, because so far only about 10% of them (53 institutions and departments and 40 funders) have adopted a deposit mandate.. The mere existence of IRs is not enough to fill them. Deposit mandates successfully fill them. IR usage stats and Open Access Impact Advantage are the evidence that full IRs are heavily used.
The Beginning of Institutional Repositories

Stuart Basefsky, Senior Reference Librarian at Cornell, writes, in The End of Institutional Repositories & the Beginning of Social Academic Research Service: An Enhanced Role For Libraries:

In building IRs, the evidence is clear that their mere existence does not translate into use. Hence the necessity to come up with Harvard-like mandates to force compliance of faculty. The social, academic foundation for cooperation and active participation in IR efforts was overlooked. However, a lesson can be learned from these failings…

(1) Stuart Basefsky seems to count mandating IR deposit — a strategy that has been demonstrated to be successful in filling IRs — as a “failing.” One wonders why?

(2) Alma Swan’s author surveys (unmentioned by Basefsky) have shown that most researchers report they do not yet deposit their papers in their IRs, but if deposit were mandated by their institutions or funders, 95% of them say they would deposit, 14% of them reluctantly, 81% willingly.

(3) Arthur Sale’s outcome studies (likewise unmentioned) have shown that researchers actually do as they say they would, and in about two years an IR with a deposit mandate is well on the way to filling.

(4) Of the 768 IRs registered in ROAR — the overwhelming majority of them very far from full — Cornell’s are not in the top 10%.

(5) Nor is Cornell as yet one of the 51 institutions and departments (and 36 funders) that have adopted a deposit mandate.

(6) The failing, it seems to me, is that of the mere existence of IRs failing to be sufficient to fill them.

(7) The lesson, it seems to me, is that deposit mandates successfully fill them.

(8) And the IR usage stats and OA impact advantage are the evidence that full IRs are heavily used.

(9) Stuart Basefsky’s article lists many promising things an IR can do to make itself more useful.

(10) But he seems to regard the most important of them — mandating deposit — as a “failing.”

(11) And he does not seem to realize that if an IR fails to fill itself with its own institutional research output, it may be some sort of an online information resource, but it is not an IR.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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