Institutional Repositories Info Project

Disclaimer: All of this content is part of a graduate project and designed to be an introduction to institutional repositories. Every institution will have their own guidelines and policies related to their institutional repository, such as submission guidelines, but here is some general information.

This page contains: Common Words & Terms and Common Questions.

 

Common Words & Terms

  1. Institutional Repository (IR)
  2. Open Access
  3. Predatory Publishing
  4. Preprints and Postprints
  5. Embargo

 

1. Institutional Repository (IR)

An Institutional Repository is an online collection of the work produced by the community of an organization or institution. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) provides an excellent definition: “Institutional repositories centralize, preserve, and make accessible the knowledge generated by academic institutions. IRs also form part of a larger global system of repositories, which are indexed in a standardized way, and searchable using one interface, providing the foundation for a new and innovative services” (Canadian Association of Research Libraries 2016). IRs are becoming increasingly common over the last few years and act as a place for authors to self-archive a version of a published work. Global access and self-archiving are two ways IRs support open access.


2. Open Access

Open access is the movement to promote immediate, online, access to freely available research. Open access affords the right to unrestricted use and re-use the information. This movement is particularly significant to the academic community as a way for researchers to share information more effectively and maximize visibility. There are two types of open access: green and gold. Green open access, sometimes referred to as self-archiving, is when the author publishes an article and also submits a version of their work into a repository. Gold open access is when the journal itself is open access, like PLOS, and the publisher provides free, online access to the completed work at the time of publication.

See the Copyright & Fair Dealing Project: Words & Terms for definitions to help distinguish between open access, creative commons licences, and public domain works.


3. Predatory Publishing

CARL warns scholars to be aware of predatory publishers or journals that exhibit predatory practices. These publishers tend to aggressively contact potential authors, have high acceptance rates, minimal peer review process, and lack academic credibility. This practice is particularly problematic because it has the potential to undermine the benefits of the open access movement.


4. Preprints and Postprints

These terms describe different versions of an academic article. Preprints are a draft of an article before it has been submitted for publication. This term may be any draft or working paper version. Postprints are the version of the article after submission. This document has been peer-reviewed, copy-edited, and formatted for a specific publication. Different publications allow different versions to be shared through IRs and the full-text can usually only be posted after an embargo period.


5. Embargo

An embargo period is the length of time between an article being released in a publication and when a complete version of the same article can be made freely available. For example, if an article is published in March 2016 with a six month embargo, then a version of this article can be made freely accessible in September 2016. The length of the embargo period varies depending on publication and the postprint is not necessarily the version that can be made accessible. Submitting the article to an IR is a great way to make it accessible and there is often a way to submit in advance, scheduling when your work will become available.

 

Common Questions

  1. Why support IRs?
  2. Can IRs support image content and visual arts research?
  3. How will this affect my publication standing?
  4. When I submitted my paper, I signed an agreement with the publisher. Considering this, how can I support IRs?
  5. My article is already available through academic journals. Why submit to an IR?
  6. Who can find my research through an IR?
  7. If my research is so widely accessible, won’t it be easier to plagiarize my work?
  8. Do I maintain rights over my work when I submit it to the IR?

 

1. Why support IRs?

IRs are becoming increasingly common and important to academic publishing. Making the research and publications, or output, of an institution accessible increases the visibility and impact of scholarship. For example, a project or institution may experience increased awareness, respect, or prestige because of the now-wider audience. These repositories are an organized place to curate information and also create metadata and records that will help preserve the output of the academic community.

One of the biggest benefits of an IR and the larger open access movement is that they afford public access to academic research. It is no secret that the academic community tends to exist separately from the general public. The publications that result from academic research are released in academic publications that are often expensive and relatively uncommon, making these documents inaccessible to someone outside of active scholarship. Public libraries usually offer access to some academic resources, but IRs make recent research globally available through Internet access.

IRs in Canada are particularly important to help scholars meet the requirements of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. The Tri-Agency policy requires grant recipients to make their publications freely accessible within twelve months of publication. This can be done by publishing in an open access journal, paying to make the article freely available at the time of publication (if possible), or by depositing a version of the publication into an online repository. This is a fairly recent change to the policy and IRs are working to meet the needs of their academic community members.


2. Can IRs support image content and visual arts research?

IRs tend to be sent up for traditional forms of academic output such as documents, data, and other text-based formats. Some art research results in a paper similar to any other discipline and these documents fit into an IR as easily as any. For work that contains numerous images, there are ways to incorporate images into textual documents. Thesis and dissertations for the visual arts, for example, may include a body of text with images of artwork, installations, or exhibitions. This allows the research and artwork to be represented in a format that can be deposited and curated in an IR.

There are studies focusing on finding the best ways to represent art and art research that cannot be effectively represented as a pdf. The Kultur Project out of the UK, for example, was designed to investigate how IRs can facilitate multimedia research contributions. The project worked to create a transferable IR model that could be used by any organization or institution that supports the creative and applied arts. They considered a range of issues, including interface, sustainability, copyright issues, file formats, file sizes, and linking to related content. This project is now closed, but highlights areas for further development before IRs can meet the needs of the visual arts academic community.


3. How will this affect my publication standing?

There have been some questions about how it will ‘look’ to submit work to an IR and, more specifically, if it will hurt your rank in a database such as SSRN. Don’t forget that submitting content to an IR and submitting it for publication are not exclusive. Publishing in significant journals is important and submitting to an IR is also important. As far as ranking, librarians found law faculty members in particular were concerned about how submitting to an IR would impact their SSRN ranking. In an article in the American Association of Law Libraries publication AALL Spectrum, librarians compared audience and number of downloads between the IR and SSRN to get a general understanding of this issue. They found IRs did not impact SSRN ranking and recommended faculty use both to reach a larger, more diverse audience.


4. When I submitted my paper, I signed an agreement with the publisher. Considering this, how can I support IRs?

The agreement signed with a publisher should allow for some form of archiving, especially because it’s required if you received a Tri-Agency grant. SHERPA/RoMEO is a great resource to determine what version of your article can be submitted to the IR and the length of the embargo period. This site allows you to search the name of a specific publication and provides a table that breaks down what is permitted including general conditions. It is a great resource to help answer this question.


5. My article is already available through academic journals. Why submit to an IR?

There are a few answers to this question, but I’ll try to be brief: submitting to an IR makes your work accessible to wider, more diverse audience; if your research was funded by the Tri-Agency here in Canada, submitting the article to an IR will help you meet their requirement that the article be freely accessed within twelve months; adding to the IR helps represent the output of your institution; content in the IR is indexed for search engines which means more people can find and cite your article; and finally, it is becoming increasingly common for large institutions to have a mandatory archiving policy.


6. Who can find my research through an IR?

IRs are designed to be accessed through online searching. Uniform standards and indexing mean that your research is now available wherever there is Internet access. This means your work is now available to vast, dispersed, and diverse audience. This level of information sharing will increase the visibility of your work, represent the breadth of research created by your institution, and foster innovation across the disciplines.


7. If my research is so widely accessible, won’t it be easier to plagiarize my work?

Your work is more easily accessible, but it is also attached to metadata and web history that clearly states your authorship. Because of this, your authorship can be easily determined in the unfortunate event that someone tries to copy your work. Also, in most cases the work in the IR represents a published article that also proves your authorship.


8. Do I maintain rights over my work when I submit it to the IR?

Probably, but this will depend on your institution. When trying to find an answer to this question, I found that every institution policy I consulted assured authors that there is no transfer of rights when submitting content to the repository. Check the policy at your institution to find out if this is the case. Also, keep in mind that an agreement signed with a publisher must be honoured when submitting to an IR. This means you may need to consult a site like SHERPA/RoMEO to determine what version of your work can be submitted and the length of the embargo period.

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