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Depot, a central service for UK's Institutional Repositories: round-up, back-up and stop-gap Stevan Harnad 14 Apr 2007 10:56 UTC

                ** Cross-Posted **

EDINA, SHERPA and JISC have just announced DEPOT which looks as if it
will be a superb service, and a model for all countries worldwide that
wish to provide Open Access to their research output.

DEPOT is many things, but chiefly a mediator for Institutional
Repositories (IRs):

(a) If your institution already has an IR, Depot will redirect your
deposit there, while also registering it and tracking it centrally, to
make sure the deposit is picked up by the major search engines.

(b) If your institution does not yet have an IR, you can deposit
directly in Depot and Depot will provide access to your deposit until
your institution has an IR, at which point it will transfer your deposit
to your IR.

I have mostly only congratulations for the designers and implementers of
Depot. It is the optimal synthesis: It emphasises the author's own IR as
the canonical locus for OA content. It monitors and integrates all of
the UK's IRs. And it provides a provisional locus for any researcher
whose institution does not yet have an IR (or for researchers who are
not affiliated with an institution).

I do have two important suggestions, however:

(1) Currently, Depot states that only postprints can be deposited.

(The postprint is either the author's peer-reviewed final draft,
accepted for publication, or the published PDF itself.)

(2) Depot also states that the deposit depends on the policy of the
publisher (and it does not state *when* deposit should be done).

(The depositor is instead referred to the Romeo directory of publisher
policies on author self-archiving).

I strongly suggest two small but crucial changes in connection with
these two points:

    (1') Do not restrict the deposit to postprints. Include
    preprints too.

(Preprints are pre-peer-review versions of articles that are to be
submitted for peer-reviewed publication.)

    (2') Make it clear that the deposit of the postprint should be done
    as soon as the article is accepted for publication (and the preprint
    even earlier, to be followed by the postprint as soon as it exists)
    -- and, most important of all, make it clear that the deposit itself
    does *not* depend on publisher policy: only the *access-setting* does.

The postprints of articles for which the publisher has not yet endorsed
self-archiving can all still be deposited immediately upon acceptance
for publication, but the deposit can be provisionally set as Closed
Access, instead of Open Access, with only the metadata accessible to

Depot's FAQ is not quite clear on the relation between itself and the
many IRs.  Presumably if the author's institution has an IR, Depot will
redirect the deposit there. (In that case, excluding preprints is not a
good idea, not only because they are crucial precursors of postprints,
but because all IRs will welcome both preprints and postprints. It would
be a very bad idea to try to draw a formal line between the two.)

Moreover, it is stated that Depot itself will be based on the EPrints IR
software. That means that it will have (i) the option for Closed Access
deposit and (ii) the "Fair Use" Button -- REQUEST EMAIL EPRINT. With
those features, almost-OA can be provided almost immediately and

Any would-be user webwide, led by the metadata to a deposit that turns
out to be in Closed Access, can just copy/paste his email address in a
box that is provided by the software, and press the REQUEST EMAIL EPRINT
button. This sends the author an automatic email eprint request, containing
a URL on which the author need merely click in order to authorize the
automatic emailing of one copy of his eprint to the requester.

There is a vast difference between deferring deposit until the publisher
endorses OA deposit, and doing an immediate CA deposit, deferring only
the OA. Depot should definitely facilitate the latter practise.

Some clarification is also needed of the mechanism of transfer from
Depot to the author's IR.

But overall, the Depot service is near-perfect, and once optimised with
these two small changes, it is worthy of not only admiration but
emulation worldwide.

Stevan Harnad

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UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.