Background and Purpose of the Project

Scottish universities have made a substantial contribution to the development of digital repositories within the framework of a number of JISC-funded cross-institutional and single-institution FAIR projects, in particular, DAEDALUS and HaIRST, both completed in July 2005, ,SHERPA completed in November 2005, and the e-theses projects, which culminated with the CURL-BL EThOS project led by the University of Glasgow

This has already resulted in the setting-up of three fully operational institutional digital repositories in Scotland: the Edinburgh Research Archive, the Glasgow ePrints Service and St. Andrews Eprints (which was developed as part of HaIRST). All three services make available, in an open access environment and via institution-based search interfaces, a variety of research and research-related output ranging from working papers, peer-reviewed papers, full-text undergraduate and postgraduate theses and dissertations, book chapters, technical reports, conference and seminar papers, images, data sets in various digital formats, newspaper/magazine articles on researchers’ work and researchers’ personal web pages.

Pilot e-print repositories include those created within the framework of the HaIRST project, namely Strathprints at the University of Strathclyde, as well as experimental static OAI repositories developed to deal with repository content at Napier University (Edinburgh) and at the ten Glasgow FE colleges that were also partners in the project. The University of Aberdeen is piloting AURA, and other institutions are also actively considering establishing their own.

In spite of this growing support for open access and the recent creation of fully operational e-print repositories in a number of institutions, the development of institutional repositories in Scotland is currently hindered by three factors, which need to be tackled in a collaborative manner, namely:

1. The lack of formal institutional policies, procedures and mechanisms for research publication within an open access environment – here are both cultural and organisational obstacles which hinder the swift, systematic and homogeneous population of existing institutional repositories and of repositories which are just being established in the run-up to RAE 2008.

2. The absence of a fully fledged Scotland-wide institutional repository infrastructure for research – with the result that (a) a great number of, in particular, smaller Scottish HEIs cannot contribute to the dissemination of the nation’s research output via open access digital repositories; (b) there is currently no Scottish cross-repository resource discovery tool to promote the Scottish research output as a whole – an issue which is considered here in the context of Scotland but also applies to any regional or subject groupings that might become building blocks for a UK-wide digital repository infrastructure.

3. An insufficient understanding of which functions should be undertaken at institutional level and which would be more appropriately managed centrally within Scotland, where there is already a strong history of collaboration, at UK level or even globally.

All the projects mentioned at the beginning of this section conclude that populating repositories now presents a greater challenge than setting them up. Much successful advocacy work has already been carried out across the UK - in particular, by ePrints UK, a project under the FAIR programme, and by SHERPA. Within Scotland this success is borne out by the take-up of the Scottish Declaration on Open Access. But now that Scottish universities have formally declared their broad support for open access, the time is right for information professionals to work in close partnership with university senior managers and researchers to explore ways of developing institutional research publication policies and procedures conducive to the promotion of self-archiving in institutional open access repositories.

While services such as the Edinburgh Research Archive and the Glasgow ePrints Service can be cross-searched via OAI service providers (e.g. ARC and OAIster) like any other OAI-compliant repositories in the UK or globally, there is currently no Scottish cross-repository infrastructure to promote the Scottish research output as a whole. IRIScotland will provide a full service, based on agreements on design and metadata standards and a fully working service implementation (including the ability to simulate subject repositories within a distributed institutional infrastructure). This will allow the evaluation of such a service not only for those in research pools but for the research community as a whole, as well as institutions and the regional economy.

In order to support the Scottish research agenda at both institutional and national (Scottish) level, IRIScotland will adopt a three-pronged approach, namely:

Explore - in collaboration with university senior managers and researchers - ways of bringing about cultural and organisational change by developing institutional research publication policies, procedures and mechanisms, as well as workflows to assist individual researchers, conducive to the promotion of self-archiving in institutional open access repositories;

Develop a broad framework for a distributed institutional repository infrastructure for Scottish research and experiment with both a collective hosting repository, in particular for smaller institutions that may not wish to set up their own institutional repositories, and a cross-repository search facility capable of dealing with a wide range of research and research-related digital objects;

Identify what can be more effectively done centrally – and whether this should be done at a national Scottish level or a national UK-wide level – or locally at institutional level, taking account of relevant international developments to ensure that the Scottish infrastructure is globally interoperable.


Page last updated: 23-November-2006