An institutional repository (IR) is an online archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution.
An institutional repository can be viewed as a "...a set of services that a university offers to members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members." For a university, this includes materials such as monographs, academic journal articles, both before (preprints) and after (postprints) undergoing peer review, as well as electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).
An institutional repository might also include other digital assets generated by academics, such as administrative documents, course notes, learning objects, or conference proceedings. Deposit of material in an institutional repository is sometimes mandated by that institution.
Some of the main objectives for having an institutional repository are to provide open access to institutional research output by self-archiving it, to create global visibility for an institution's scholarly research, and to store and preserve other institutional digital assets, including unpublished or otherwise easily lost ("grey") literature such as theses or technical reports.
The origin of the notion of an "institutional repository" are twofold:
- Institutional repositories are partly linked to the notion of digital interoperability, which is in turn linked to the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and its Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). The OAI in turn had its roots in the notion of a "Universal Preprint Service", since superseded by the open access movement.
- Institutional repositories are partly linked to the notion of a digital library - i.e., collecting, housing, classifying, cataloguing, curating, preserving, and providing access to digital content, analogous with the library's conventional function of collecting, housing classifying, curating, preserving and providing access to analog content.
Institutional repositories are one of the recommended ways to achieve the open access vision described in the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of open access. This is sometimes referred to as the self-archiving or 'green' route to open access.
Features and benefits
While the most popular open source and hosted applications share the advantages that institutional repositories bring to institutions, such as increased visibility and impact of research output, interoperability and availability of technical support, institutional repository advocates tend to favour open source solutions for the reason that they are by their nature more compatible with the ideology of the freedom and independence of the internet from commercial interests. On the other hand, some institutions opt for outsourced commercial solutions.
In her briefing paper on open access repositories, advocate Alma Swan lists the following as the benefits that repositories bring to institutions:
- Opening up outputs of the institution to a worldwide audience;
- Maximizing the visibility and impact of these outputs as a result;
- Showcasing the institution to interested constituencies – prospective staff, prospective students and other stakeholders;
- Collecting and curating digital output;
- Managing and measuring research and teaching activities;
- Providing a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects;
- Enabling and encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to research;
- Facilitating the development and sharing of digital teaching materials and aids, and
- Supporting student endeavours, providing access to theses and dissertations and a location for the development of e-portfolios.
Variations on institutional repositories
A repository established for the use of a particular academic department or laboratory is properly called a departmental repository, though the term institutional repository is also used. An example is ePrints for the School of Electronics and Computer Science, The University of Southampton, UK.
A repository can also be intended for a particular type of material, such as theses.
There are a number of open-source software packages for running a repository including:
There are also hosted (proprietary) software services, including:
The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) states in its manifesto that "Each individual repository is of limited value for research: the real power of Open Access lies in the possibility of connecting and tying together repositories, which is why we need interoperability. In order to create a seamless layer of content through connected repositories from around the world, open access relies on interoperability, the ability for systems to communicate with each other and pass information back and forth in a usable format. Interoperability allows us to exploit today's computational power so that we can aggregate, data mine, create new tools and services, and generate new knowledge from repository content."
Interoperability is achieved in the world of institutional repositories using protocols to which repositories should conform, such as OAI-PMH. This allows search engines and open access aggregators, such as BASE and CORE, to index repository metadata and content and provide value-added services on top of this content.
- Digital library
- Disciplinary repository
- Digital Assets Repository
- Current Research Information System
- List of repositories
- Library publishing
- Van de Sompel, H & Lagoze, C. (2000) The Santa Fe Convention of the Open Archives Initiativ. D-lib Magazine, 6(2).
- Tansley, Robert & Harnad, Stevan (2000) Eprints.org Software for Creating Institutional and Individual Open Archives. D-lib Magazine, 6(10)
- Harnad, S. (2005) The Implementation of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. D-lib Magazine, 11(3).
- Crow, R. (2006) The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper. Discussion Paper. Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition, Washington, D.C.
- Lynch, Clifford. "Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age". http://www.arl.org. ARL. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Usage of Open Access Repository Software - Worldwide". OpenDOAR. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Why Ubuntu Server?
- Swan, Alma. "Open Access institutional repositories: A Brieﬁng Paper". Open Scholarship. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Lewis, Stuart. "About". Repository 66 Map Blog. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- "The Case for Interoperability for Open Access Repositories". COAR. COAR. July 2011. p. 2. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Knoth, P. & Zdrahal, Z. (2012). CORE: Three Access Levels to Underpin Open Access D-Lib Magazine, 18, 11/12, Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
- Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR)
- Openarchives.eu - The European Guide to OAI-PMH Institutional Repositories in the World
- Ranking Web of World Repositories