Depot, a central service for UK's Institutional Repositories: round-up, back-up and stop-gap

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 16:10:34 EDT

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

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

I do have two important suggestions, however:

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

(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

(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 all.

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 semi-automatically:

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
Received on Wed Apr 25 2007 - 16:56:45 BST

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