Sunday, 6 March 2011

Is an Institutional Repository required to publish Open Access papers?

  Having an Institutional Repository in operation at home university makes it very easy to publish one’s work Open Access: the university staff managing the IR may even take care of depositing one’s works along the effort for having the whole institutional research output filed in the repository. But what if there is no IR available at the institution of affiliation? Does that prevent articles to be disseminated Open Access?

Wide-known answer to that question is certainly not. There are several ways to make a piece of research available Open Access without an IR being involved in them:

Subject repositories. There are plenty of discipline-based Open Access repositories available worldwide covering most research areas. When searching these SRs for contributions from UofK, some research papers may be found in physics Open Access repositories as arXiv or biology-based ones such as PubMed Central, where full-text versions of the papers are available.

Open Access Journals. When a paper is submitted for publication to an Open Access journal it becomes available full-text from the very moment it gets published. A paper may thus enjoy the same enhanced visibility it would get from being filed in an institutional repository, specially if the Open Access journal is featured in international directories of OA journals such as African Journals Online (AJOL) or the Directory of International Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

General-purpose Open Access repositories: Specific Open Access repositories have been created by the Open Access community to serve those authors worldwide whose institution has no institutional repository. Such is the case of, a general-purpose Open Access repository hosted at EDINA-University of Edinburgh. OpenDepot will first try to locate repositories for the author’s institution and, when non-existent, allow for direct article deposit into it.

So there are several ways for getting research output available Open Access when no institutional repository is available. However, a home-based institutional repository will provide some extra benefits for both the author and the university other than just easening deposit of Open Access papers:

Having an IR in operation will result in policies for promoting systematic deposit. Once an institutional repository project starts, an institutionally-backed dissemination campaign follows in order to make authors aware of the advantages of archiving their papers in it. Institutional policies for promotion of Open Access deposit of institutional research output may range from a mere recommendation to an Open Access mandate – a growing number of which are already in place.

An institutional repository will provide a wider coverage of institutional publications than any of the abovementioned procedures. Only a handful of authors make use of the already mentioned tools (subject repositories, open access journals or general-purpose open access repositories) for publishing their papers Open Access. However, when having an IR available, every single author in the institution becomes aware of this option for Open Access publishing.

Having an IR in operation will result in the institutional research output getting organized, archived and preserved. Systematic filing of both recent and legacy research works into the IR will allow to gather the whole institutional output (thus diminishing rates of ‘lost science’), and to expose this output in an organized way (grouped by faculties, departments or research institutes). Having an IR will also enable long-term preservation of institutional research output (such as dissertations and thesis).

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