Institutional repository

For other uses of "scholarly repositories", see Disciplinary repository.

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.[1][2][3][4]

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."[5] For a university, this includes materials such as monographs, eprints of 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 datasets, administrative documents, course notes, learning objects, or conference proceedings. Deposit of material in an institutional repository is sometimes mandated by that institution.

An institutional repository is a means to ensure that the published work of scholars is available to the academic community even after increases in subscription fees or budget cuts within libraries (Bhardwaj, 2014 & Boufarss 2011). The majority of research scholars do not provide free access to their research output to their colleagues in an organization (Ahmed and Al-Baridi 2012). IRs provide scholars with a common platform so that everyone in the institution can contribute scholarly material to promote cross-campus interdisciplinary research. An institutional repository is an online archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution. The development of an IR redefines the production and dissemination of scholarly material within an academic community. The objective of such a repository is to support the organization’s goals. Some institutions use an IR as a positive marketing tool to enhance their reputation. The contents available on the institute’s website usually are removed after a few weeks. An IR can provide a platform to manage institutional information, including web contents. IRs have a number of benefits, including access to resources,visibility of research, and presentations of the contents (Nabe 2010). (Source:Bhardwaj, Raj Kumar. "Institutional Repository Literature: A Bibliometric Analysis." Science & Technology Libraries ahead-of-print (2014): 1-18)

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, working papers or technical reports.


The origin of the notion of an institutional repository are twofold:

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

In her briefing paper[6] on open access repositories, advocate Alma Swan lists the following as the benefits that repositories bring to institutions:

In an article in Journal of Library Administration,[7] Nebraska library dean Joan Giesecke outlines 4 models for recruiting content or participation in institutional repositories and reviews the costs involved.

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 theSchool of Electronics and Computer Science at The University of Southampton.

A repository can also be intended for a particular type of material, such as theses.

Developing an institutional repository

After an institution has decided to invest in a repository, a series of decisions must be made. What department(s) will be involved? Who will lead the initiative? Should it build a repository from scratch or use a ready-made solution? What are the advantages and disadvantages of open-source vs. paid software? Numerous resources exist to help librarians and other repository managers frame and answer such questions, including "A Librarian's Process for Building an Institutional Repository",[8] a series of flowcharts that run from project initiation to maintaining the system. Many journal articles are also helpful in planning as they discuss the development process: "It takes a library: growing a robust institutional repository in two years"[9] and "Hitting the ground running: building New Zealand’s first publicly available institutional repository."[10]


According to OpenDOAR data the three most popular IR software platforms are DSpace (open source) followed by EPrints (open source), and Digital Commons (hosted).[11] According to the same data, a majority of institutions use open source platforms installed locally.[11] Among new adopters, there seems to be a strong preference towards cloud-based services (in the U.S.A. at least). A survey, commissioned by Duraspace, found that 72% of respondents indicated that their IR is a hosted service.[12] Institutions are choosing cloud-based solutions because such providers "enable institutions to easily get started with a hosted software service, with no need to provision local hardware, software, staff, or other infrastructure nor is there any specific technical skill or expertise required".[13] Also important to the decision to go hosted may be the understanding that a hosted IR solution "frees a library from both hardware and software support, allowing staff resources to be directed to other publishing service functions such as consulting and workflow design."[14] The proprietary software package for running a repository in the cloud include:

Institutions that choose open source software packages that they install and maintain locally may do so for greater control and ability to customize, and is, by its nature, more compatible with the ideology of the freedom and independence of the internet from commercial interests.[15] Few go open source today to save money because there is no evidence of significant cost savings when technical labor to manage and maintain the open source solution is factored in.[16] The open-source software packages for running a repository locally include:

At the end of the day institutions are substantially protected against the risk of lock-in by the fact that all of these IR platforms share a common open standard called OAI. This standard makes it not just possible but fairly easy to collect and move one's materials from one platform to another.

Repository 66, ranking web of repositories are few mashup which indicate the worldwide locations of open access digital repositories. It is based on data provided by ROAR and the OpenDOAR service developed by SHERPA.[17]


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."[18]

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.[19]

See also


  1. 1 2 Van de Sompel, H & Lagoze, C. (2000) The Santa Fe Convention of the Open Archives Initiativ. D-lib Magazine, 6(2).
  2. Tansley, Robert & Harnad, Stevan (2000) Software for Creating Institutional and Individual Open Archives. D-lib Magazine, 6(10)
  3. Harnad, S. (2005) The Implementation of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. D-lib Magazine, 11(3).
  4. Crow, R. (2006) The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper. Discussion Paper. Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition, Washington, D.C.
  5. Lynch, Clifford. "Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age" (PDF). Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  6. Swan, Alma. "Open Access institutional repositories: A Briefing Paper (2009)" (PDF). Open Scholarship. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  7. Journal of Library Administration 51:5-6 (2011; Special Issue: Scholarly Communication: Trends, Economics and Future), pp. 529-542; doi: 10.1080/01930826.2011.589340
  8. Stezano, Leo (March 2016). A Librarian’s Process for Building an Institutional Repository. Elsevier Library Connect
  9. Bruns, T. A., Knight-Davis, S, Corrigan, E. K., & Brantley, J. S. (October 2014). "It takes a library: growing a robust institutional repository in two years." Faculty Research & Creative Activity. Paper 98. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from
  10. Stanger, N., & McGregor, G. (2006). "Hitting the ground running: building New Zealand’s first publicly available institutional repository." Information Science Discussion Papers Series No. 2006/07. University of Otago. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from
  11. 1 2 "OpenDOAR Chart - Usage%20of%20Open%20Access%20Repository%20Software%20-%20Worldwide". OpenDOAR. Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  12. "Managing Digital Collections Survey Results". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  13. "Managing Digital Collections Survey Results Summary | DuraSpace". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  14. "Search Publications | Association of Research Libraries® | ARL®" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  15. Why Ubuntu Server?
  16. "Institutional Repositories: Exploration of Costs and Value". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  17. Lewis, Stuart. "About". Repository 66 Map Blog. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  18. "The Case for Interoperability for Open Access Repositories" (PDF). COAR. COAR. July 2011. p. 2. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  19. Knoth, P. & Zdrahal, Z. (2012). CORE: Three Access Levels to Underpin Open Access D-Lib Magazine, 18, 11/12, Corporation for National Research Initiatives.

Further reading

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