Increasing Institutional Repository Content with "email eprint" Button

From: Timothy Miles-Board <>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2006 13:41:50 +0100

A new feature has been built into the GNU EPrints (free) software for
creating Institutional Repositories (IRs). We hope it will dramatically
increase the growth rate of open access (OA) content deposited in
IRs while -- perversely it may seem -- allowing authors to opt out of
providing OA! It's extremely simple, and if implemented carefully by
the repository can produce immediate results without additional cost or
resource implications.

(Eloy Rodrigues, the dynamic OA activist at University of Minho in
Portugal has kindly implemented
the feature in Dspace too, and will be announcing its availability for
testing very shortly.)

This new feature is called the "Request eprint" button. It works like

To deposit a work using EPrints an author creates a record for the
eprint by filling metadata fields in the repository deposit interface.
Ideally we would of course like the eprint to be both deposited *and*
made OA. However, not all authors are yet comfortable with this, so
rather than have authors refrain from depositing their eprints altogether,
EPrints offers authors the option of either:

     (1) making the eprint OA, or

     (2) restricting full-text visibility to designated viewers, with
     only its metadata visible publicly, or

     (3) making the full-text completely invisible, with only its
     metadata visible publicly (although the full-text is still stored
     in the system).

There are a number of reasons for allowing this flexibility. One of
the main hesitations authors have about providing OA -- even
though 93% of journals have already given it their official green light -- is author worries about infringing
their copyright agreement with the remaining 7% of journals. Institutions
contemplating adopting self-archiving mandates have similar concerns.

So far, none of this is new.

The key need of the repository in terms of growing content is to persuade
authors (or their designees) to perform the requisite keystrokes, i.e.
to simply *deposit* the metadata and the eprint, without prejudice as
to what else might be done with it. Once those all-important data are
deposited, we can start to work with the author to maximise its usefulness
and usage.

This is where the "Request eprint" button comes in. Whenever record of
a stored eprint tells a would-be user that an OA version of the full
text copy is not accessible, a dialogue box appears inviting the user
to paste in their email address and send a request to the author for a
copy of the paper. This request is emailed automatically to the author,
offering three choices in return: to email the requested eprint, to
reject the request, or to make the eprint OA in the repository.

Since the requested eprint is already in the repository, and merely
invisible, a simple process enables the author to make a selection and
activate that choice with a single click.

This is simple for requesters, authors, repository implementers and
policy makers as it allows them a full range of choices without any
implications for the usual worries that otherwise deter or delay this
type of dissemination. In particular, there are no implications for

This furthers the objectives of increasing deposit and dissemination
through the repository by reducing barriers and fears. It also gives
authors valuable feedback on the degree of interest in their work
(requests are counted, just as downloads of OA eprints are counted,
and the statistics made available to the author).

How might this affect growth of your repository? It is generally
estimated that institutional repositories are capturing 15% of the annual
articles that could be made OA today. There is thus an 85% gap to fill.
There have been many hypotheses about the reasons for the slowness of
authors in filling this gap. The "Request eprint" button enables us to
overcome most of these concerns. It gives even authors who are wary of
self-archiving the chance to begin depositing in their institutional
repository, it improves access - even if it is not immediately OA it is
better than no record at all - and it offers the prospect of conversion
to OA when authors realise the level of interest in their work.

This feature also makes it possible to implement the "weaker" model for
an official Open Access Policy, both


and nationally:

This message was adapted from Steve Hitchcock's text at:
Received on Mon Apr 10 2006 - 13:24:27 BST

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