Institutional vs. Central Repositories Stevan Harnad 25 Nov 2009 17:29 UTC

On Wed, 25 Nov 2009, Armbruster, Chris wrote:

> Much hope and a lot of money has been invested in institutional
> repositories - but, for example, in the UK the significant mandates are
> now research funder mandates and all the life science RCUKs have joined
> UK PMC. It would thus seem important and urgent that IRs reconsider
> their strategy and take a closer look at the idea of being a research
> repository or joining forces for building a national (or regional) system.

(-2) It is not at all clear that the "significant mandates" are the funder
mandates, especially in view of the past year's burst in institutional
mandates (UCL, Harvard, MIT, Stanford...):

(-1) The ones who need to reconsider their strategy are the (few) research
funders who have needlessly and counterproductively stipulated that
locus of deposit should be central rather than institutional.

(1) Institutions are the universal providers of all research output --
funded and unfunded, across all subjects, all institutions, and all

(2) Institutions have a vested interest in hosting, monitoring,
showcasing and archiving their own research output.

(3) OAI-compliant Repositories are all interoperable.

(4) Either funders or institutions can in principle stipulate any locus
of deposit for a mandate, either institutional or central.

(5) But mandates are still growing too slowly, and one big reason is
that *no one wants to do -- or mandate -- multiple deposit*.

(6) There are potentially multiple, diverse and divergent central loci for
any piece of research output: subject collections, national collections,
funder collections, multidisciplinary collections, etc.

(7) The metadata and/or full-text deposits of any OAI-compliant repository
can be harvested, exported or imported to any OAI-compliant repository.

(8) The natural, economical, rational and systematic solution
(one-to-many, unitary-local --> multiple-distal) is for all researchers to
deposit *locally*, in their own institional repository -- and for distal
central collections to harvest, import or export -- not the reverse
(many-to-one, distal to local, willy-nilly, back-harvesting one's own
output from here, there and everywhere!), or both, or neither.

(9) The only thing that stands in the way of that optimal solution --
whereby institutional and funder mandates can collaborate, converge,
and mutually reinforce one another instead of diverging and competing --
is the arbitrary and ill-thought-through requirement by some funders
(but by no means all) to deposit centrally instead of institutionally.

(10) This obstacle is neither a functional one (it has nothing
*whatsoever* to do with the relative functionality of institutional
and central repositories -- they are interoperable and equipotent in
every respect) nor a "cultural" one (since self-archiving culture is
still very new and all too rare): the problem is simply the needless
adoption of arbitrary and ill-thought-out locus-of-deposit requirements
by some of the initial funders.

(11) The solution is to fix the funder locus-of-deposit specs, not to
switch to central locus of deposit.

(12) Prediction: The notion of a "central repository" -- new as it is --
is already obsolescent: Is Google a "central repository" or merely a
harvester of local content?

Stevan Harnad

> Armbruster, Chris and Romary, Laurent, Comparing Repository Types: Challenges
> and Barriers for Subject-Based Repositories, Research Repositories, National
> Repository Systems and Institutional Repositories in Serving Scholarly
> Communication (November 23, 2009). Available at SSRN:
> Regards, Chris
> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: American Scientist Open Access Forum im Auftrag von Leslie Carr
> Gesendet: Di 11/24/2009 18:11
> Betreff:      Re: Comparing repositories - subject-based, institutional,
> research and national repository systems
> On 23 Nov 2009, at 17:22, Armbruster, Chris wrote:
>> After two decades of repository development, some conclusions may be drawn
>> as to which type of repository and what kind of service best supports
>> digital scholarly communication, and thus the production of new knowledge.
> I think "two decades" is a bit misleading: although what we think of as the
> big subject-based repositories may predate the Web itself it's only just 10
> years since the conception of OAI-PMH and (just) less than 8 years since the
> Budapest Open Access Initiative. Even the notion of an Institutional
> Repository is still relatively young - and when did we start calling them
> "repositories" rather than "archives"? I'm sure that the archives of this
> list will have the answer!
> --
> Les Carr