On the questions of more content for institutional repositories, how they can obtain it, how we contextualise the process, how much IRs want more full-text content and how much of it they want.
Since our last post some time ago DepositMOre has been busy working with repository managers, developers and users to build new tools to support and enhance the deposit of content types specified by our repository partners. With the project drawing to a close we were grateful of the chance to give a summary presentation to the Repositories Support Project event on Increasing the full-text deposits in your institutional repository, in London on 12 June. For broader coverage, and pictures, of this event see the RSP’s short report of proceedings.
What follows is a brief summary of the DepositMOre talk and of the response to the presentation, including the live Twitter commentary, and some followup thoughts on the questions of deposit and content building by institutional repositories.
A PDF version of the slides is also available.
A perspective on the talk
The presentation reviewed, with copious illustration, use of the new tools produced by both the DepositMOre project and the forerunner DepositMO project, emphasising the new features of deposit workflow for users. Those new tools covered were an EPrints app for importing and documenting videos from YouTube and Vimeo (YouTube Import Plugin), and an app for archaeologists to upload, unpack and organise comprehensive and extensive PTM image collections within a repository (Polynomial Texture Map Extension), a more specialised app but which nevertheless demonstrates some exemplary features for wider deposit application. Both of these tools will be described in more detail in subsequent blog posts. Also briefly mentioned was a new use of the Watch Folder tool, described here on previous occasions, in building a digital library at the University of Leeds.
For those who were at the #rspevent, I was given a premature 5-minute warning mid-way through the presentation, and had to wind up unexpectedly fast. The parts I skimped, the more detailed slides, were the user feedback – on the YouTube plugin (slide 21) and on the PTM tool (slide 27) – and the concluding comments were not elaborated as much as intended, which I shall try to rectify below. The user feedback is an important part of this work so I hope you will take the chance to view these slides at greater leisure.
The talk began with reference to Frederic Merceur’s concerns about apparent duplication of full-text publications from the Ifremer repository on the researcher social media site ResearchGate. An interesting discussion followed on the list. My reaction was, why not turn this round: enable institutional repositories (IRs) to download copies of content by their researchers, not from ResearchGate but from other relevant external sources? We began this work before Fred’s comments, but that’s what we have been seeking to do with the tools developed in DepositMOre.
On the questions of more content for IRs
In summing up the talk, and the experience of the project, we asked whether obtaining more content in this way was what IRs need to do. Perhaps the questions about ResearchGate suggested an underlying caution among IRs generally about content sharing with other repositories and services. In which case, what are IRs for? In the competitive environment for content, especially for open access publications in the UK following the emergence of new open access publishers, government intervention, the Finch report and subsequent RCUK policy announcements, is content volume the battle front or do IRs prefer to establish roles in other areas? If this sounds like the “eternal existential question” for institutional repositories (see Twitter commentary below), I have to say it is currently real and acute. It is a question that has to be addressed by individual IRs, but one that recognises a wider change in the environment – political, economic and academic – that affects all IRs.
Perhaps there were clues to the case for more deposit in the afternoon break-out session at the RSP meeting, centred on the topic:
What strategies are followed currently in your institution to increase deposits: technical, organizational and policy issues
Participants worked in six groups, and in the report back, to my recollection, no group referred to any of the earlier presentations. Given the connected titles of the breakout and the event, Increasing full-text deposits, this suggests a lack of impact from the talks. If so, as one of the presenters and a member of a breakout group, I would speculate that may be because participants are focussing on process and, if I may use a word I emphasised in my talk, workflow in a library context rather than technology and tools. That might also explain the apparent lack of impact of SWORDv2 against the successful v1, where the tendency has been to explain v2 in terms of technology process and benefits.
In any of these cases, we have to allow for one of two possibilities relating to the deposit process, or to content building:
- IRs are less interested in altering the process of deposit because it works well already, or the case for new deposit tools has not been made effectively by the projects in the context of overall repository workflow and priorities.
- IRs do not believe that substantially increasing full-text content is an urgent primary target.
Live Twitter commentary on this presentation
Post-event follow-up to tweets