image from Flickr - attributed to 'Tall Chris'

I’m looking to set a common definition for ‘institutional repository’ in the context of the ERIS Project. Its been the cause of some confusion in a number of areas so I’m hoping that we can come up with something that does the job across the board.

For example, the beloved Wikipedia describes Institutional Repository as;

An Institutional Repository is an online locus for collecting, preserving, and disseminating — in digital form — the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution.

For a university, this would include materials such as research journal articles, before (preprints) and after (postprints) undergoing peer review, and digital versions of theses and dissertations, but it might also include other digital assets generated by normal academic life, such as administrative documents, course notes, or learning objects.’

Now, if we were to take this definition within the project, then we (potentially) are including thinking about learning objects, which I have always seen as being outside of the project scope. But not all institutions are equal, with each one having one, or many repositories with varying degrees of content etc.  For a project which deals with 20 HEI, just explaining what we are referring to when we talk about IR’s is causing a bit of a headache.

So, suggestions on a postcard if you can.  How have other projects dealt with this issue? Has it even been an issue??



SCURL Repository managers event

On the 24th September, we held a meeting of the SCURL Repository managers group in conjunction with the ERIS project at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. There were 20 attendees from across Scotland – and we had a pretty good geographical spread. There were some obvious instutional gaps unfortunatly, but not everyone can be available at the same time!

There were a couple of different reasons for the meeting. The first was to get everyone together and to ‘re-launch’ the Scottish repository managers meetings, having had an initial meeting 18months ago, but nothing since.

Wearing my project hat though, we wanted to have the opportunity to get together with as many repository managers as possible and talk about the project in general, and more specifically so we could run through the preservation policy survey that has been put together by the team at the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) on behalf of work package 2, of which they are the leaders.

The survey is a key part of the first objective in this work package, which is looking to develop a recommended policy framework for digital curation policy, based on DCC tools.

We started the meeting off by talking about the value in the repository managers forum in Scotland, in particular the need for us to work together and be creative in finding solutions to repository problems. This was one of the key themes of the recent Repository Fringe Event  – written up here.

The attendees then heard from me, with a general overview of the ERIS project (see below) and its aims and objectives –  in which i’m looking to communicate the value of taking an infrastructure level view of repositories in Scotland, and to ask for help from those who are responsbile for repository work across the country.

We then heard from the DCC, who presented an overview of DCC services, aims and objetives, and about the phase 3 plans that they are now working towards. Presentation below;

Post coffee was the main event, where Martin Donnelly from DCC walked through the survey questions with the group, so we could elicit responses and ‘fine tune’ the questions.  We weren’t sure how this was going to go, but in the end we got some very encouraging feedback, albeit not necessarily in the areas that we expected.  The chief issues seemed to be around assumptions of what constituted repositories within the institutions, who manages or is responsible for them, and in how policies for preservation are set either by or on behalf of repositories.

An  awful lot to think about, but since then the team at DCC have been working on revising the survey to clarify a load of points and to make sure that the rationale behind the survey is clear to all those who are asked to respond. I was also pleased that those who attended wanted to see as much opportunity as  possible to write narrative to support their answers,  and whilst this can be tricky to analyse sometimes, it will add real weight to the final output.