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Frequently Asked Questions: Institutional Repository.

These FAQs have been developed and revised by De Montfort University Library Services staff from: Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) et al. (2005) Opening up access to research results: questions and answers.

  1. What is an institutional repository
  2. What are the benefits of an institutional repository?
  3. Who decides what to put into the repository
  4. Can I place my paper in a repository and still publish it in the journal of my choice?
  5. Can I place my book or book chapter in a repository?
  6. How easy is it to place my paper in a repository?
  7. Can I add other material apart from journal articles and book chapters to the repository?
  8. Can I publish in a repository without going through a journal?
  9. How can I be sure that placing my paper in a repository will actually make it more widely available? Users of other repositories need to be able to access my paper and I need to access theirs.
  10. How can I protect myself from plagiarism, or from someone altering my paper and using it in a way I disapprove of?
  11. If anyone can place a paper in a repository, how do I know whether it's been peer reviewed or published in a bona fide journal?
  12. I put my published papers on my own/departmental website, so why should I deposit them in a repository?
  13. Some journals are called Open Access. What are these and what are the advantages of publishing in them?
  14. Do Open Access and repositories mean the demise of the scholarly journal as we know it?
(End of Questions)

1. What is an institutional repository

An institutional repository differs from other digital collections in that the creator of the content or someone on their behalf deposits it in the repository which then manages how it is kept and accessed The university is building a repository to house the scholarly output of staff called DORA De Montfort Open Research Archive Alternatively a suitable subjectbased repository may be available

2. What are the benefits of an institutional repository?

An institutional repository benefits the institution, the researcher and anyone interested in scholarly outputs. From an institutional perspective it provides a record of scholarly activity taking place within the university. For a researcher, it creates stable and reliable records of your work, managed and stored in ways which meet international technical standards. Each item in the repository has a unique Internet address (called a Handle) and it can be found easily on major search engines. And finally, increased access to scholarly knowledge is a benefit to all.

3. Who decides what to put into the repository

It is important that the academic community determines the scope of the collection At its broadest definition we are hoping to add scholarly material At the moment this can be almost anything that academics and researchers identify as suitable for inclusion in the repository but see also Q7 Obviously there may be some research outputs which may not be included immediately for example work that commercially sensitive One of the key elements of the current process of consultation with faculty research committees is to start a discussion on what could be incorporated and who should determine the repositorys content

4. Can I place my paper in a repository and still publish it in the journal of my choice?

Most journal publishers now allow authors to deposit their papers in repositories. However, they differ over whether they allow this before (pre-print) or after (post-print) the paper's publication. Some have an embargo period between publication and deposit in a repository. Some will also stipulate how post-prints should be formatted. The SHERPA project website at gives details of publisher's current policies on self-archiving and copyright.

5. Can I place my book or book chapter in a repository?

This may be possible but will be subject to copyright permission from the rights owner. Library staff will try to obtain the permission for you - see Question 4.

6. How easy is it to place my paper in a repository?

Instructions are on the main DORA site http://www.dora.dmu.ac.uk. If you have any enquiries please send us an email. Library staff will process your submission in due course.

7. Can I add other material apart from journal articles and book chapters to the repository?

The possibility of adding theses has been referred to University Higher Degrees Committee for consideration. If you are interested in adding other content in the form of images, video or other digital output, email the development team.

8. Can I publish in a repository without going through a journal?

Yes, but your paper will not be peer-reviewed in the same way as a journal article. One preliminary idea is to organise the peer-review of such pre-prints via learned societies, but no scheme is yet in place. Even without peer-review, pre-prints can be a useful means of disseminating research results and informing scholarly debate quickly and of claiming prior intellectual property rights. In some communities, such as physics and economics, the circulation of pre-prints or working papers is an accepted practice.

9. How can I be sure that placing my paper in a repository will actually make it more widely available? Users of other repositories need to be able to access my paper and I need to access theirs.

Internationally agreed standards for repositories ensure that they are interoperable. Metadata in a format compliant with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) can be collected into databases of worldwide research which users can then search. Under its latest digital repositories programme, JISC is funding research into ways of making repositories holding different types of material interoperable, for example, those containing published papers with those containing research data. Similar work is supported under the Research Councils' e-science programme.

10. How can I protect myself from plagiarism, or from someone altering my paper and using it in a way I disapprove of?

It is easier to detect simple plagiarism with electronic than with printed text by using search engines and the JISC Plagiarism Detection Service to find identical texts. For more subtle forms of misuse, the difficulties of detection are no greater than with traditional journal articles. Indeed, metadata tagging, including new ways of tracking the provenance of electronic data and text, promise to make it easier.

11. If anyone can place a paper in a repository, how do I know whether it's been peer reviewed or published in a bona fide journal?

The repository has a policy on who is allowed to deposit and how papers should be tagged to reflect their status e.g. whether they are pre-prints, authors' versions of peer-reviewed post-prints or the final version published in the journal. The distinction between peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed material should be absolutely clear.

12. I put my published papers on my own/departmental website, so why should I deposit them in a repository?

First, your paper will be much easier for others to find if it is in a repository using general search engines, such as Google, and academic search engines, such as Google Scholar and Oaister. Second, the repository will offer services you might otherwise find difficult or time consuming to access. For example, it is likely to have better schemes for archiving and curation (digital preservation) than personal or departmental web pages. It will also adhere to agreed standards for indicating whether a research paper is pre- or post-print and whether it has been peer-reviewed. It will also be able to implement quickly the outcome of research funded by JISC and others into issues such as digital rights management, establishing the provenance of text or data and the long-term preservation of digital information. Third, the information held in a repository can be mined for a variety of purposes, for example, for statistics to feed into the Research Assessment Exercise. Finally, there is a small but growing body of evidence for enhanced citation rates for Open Access research papers.

13. Some journals are called Open Access. What are these and what are the advantages of publishing in them?

Open Access journals differ from subscription-based journals in that they are free to the reader. Some Open Access journals are subsidised, but most charge the author to have a paper published. In practice, the research funder usually pays the author's charges. Evidence is accumulating that papers published in Open Access journals are more widely read and cited than papers published in equivalent traditional journals. Open Access journals are often referred to as the gold route to Open Access. The green route involves depositing in a repository in parallel with publishing in a conventional or Open Access journal. You can find an up-to-date list of Open Access journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.

14. Do Open Access and repositories mean the demise of the scholarly journal as we know it?

No. Journals perform peer-review, which will still form the backbone of the scholarly communication system, along with other services such as editorial, layout and marketing. Journals are also entities in themselves. Each has its own character, represents a community and develops its own hallmark of quality which reveals the leading edge in a field. So it is unlikely that the scholarly journal will disappear. However, the way in which they are published and used is changing. Publishers are experimenting with new economic models of journal publishing, for example the author-pays model, or hybrid models in which authors can choose whether or not to pay for their papers to be open access. Some journals may fall by the wayside, but others will adapt. Already, many are adapting by allowing articles to be made available in a repository at the time they are published. The evidence from libraries and publishers shows that journal subscriptions or viability have not been affected.