Re: Institutional Repositories

From: Leslie Carr <lescarr_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 10:26:12 +0000

On 23 Dec 2005, at 10:12, Richard Poynder wrote:

Amongst the different roles I have heard people argue that IRs
can/should play are:
 a) as a repository for a university's research output, with the
aim of increasing access to that research, and so enhancing its
b) as a tool for preserving and curating a university's research
c) as a tool to assist a university in its digital publishing
ambitions, and
d) as a tool to enable universities offer digital courseware and
online learning services. 
Would others agree that IRs are viewed as potentially assisting in
all these tasks?

You have qualified the repository role for (b), (c) and (d) as "a tool
for ...".  Tools are used by human agents to reduce the amount of effort
to achieve an end, but they do NOT perform that task in and of
themselves. It is certainly true that repository software (in and of
itself) does not preserve, curate, publish or engage learners in
learning, but it may be deployed in such tasks by sufficiently motivated
human managers who control and configure (and adapt?) the repository's

However, if disseminating research deposits is the issue, then the
repository pretty much does (in and of itself) perform the task
automatically. It receives deposits and disseminate them to all comers
through the Web (OAI harvesting, search engine crawls, user queries, user
browsing). The Web infrastructure is such that the repository provides an
automatic channel between researcher-depositor and researcher-reader.

In answer to your question therefore, I agree that IRs can "be viewed as
potentially assisting in" tasks (b), (c), (d), but that they should be
viewed as actually performing task (a).
Les Carr
PS I think that the advantages of the repository as a focus for achieving
other tasks (b-d and beyond to many other letters of the alphabet) should
definitely be explored by information science researchers, preferably in
receipt of generous amounts of funding. I happen to class myself as one
such researcher.
PPS I also think that the Class-A repository purposes should not be
eclipsed by the thrill of the unknown that (b) - (z) offer. But that's
always the problem with research - once the solution becomes well
understood, the problem becomes uninteresting.
PPS Lest anyone think me naive, there is a lot of effort that has to go
into a Class-A repository. But there will always be issues of tool
adoption, maintenance, best practice etc that surround the use of any
Received on Sat Dec 24 2005 - 14:20:30 GMT

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