Repositories again

Lorcan 2 min read

The presentations from the CNI/JISC/SURF meeting on Institutional Repositories have been collected here. I have mentioned a couple of these, or versions of them, before. However, taken together this is a focused overview of developments in the institutional repository space, straddling technical and policy issues.
Unusually for a workshop, each presentation repays attention, and the summaries of discussion are especially valuable.
Some random thoughts looking through the presentations:

  • A growing emphasis on research data. Looking at curation, services and the whole research workflow (researchflow). See in particular the presentations by Lyon [ppt]and Hey [ppt]. (Incidentally, the recent announcement that Tony Hey is joining Microsoft is intriguing.)
  • National programmatic activity. I have been to a couple of US meetings recently where colleagues were regretting the absence of JISC- or SURF-like bodies which could procure shared services and infrastructure. Of course, the socio-political environments are very different in each of the countries, and, very importantly, the scale is different. It is interesting to think that The University of California, on its own, is larger in scale than the sum of higher education in many countries.
  • It’s the services stupid. There is a real focus on services across repositories in these presentations, even if actual services of this type are nascent. The real impact of these repositories will be felt when they are stitched into a fabric of services which in turn can be stitched into local environments. I have argued elsewhere that such stitching will be facilitated by focusing on a small number of standards and approaches. This is one of the strong messages in Herbert’s presentation [ppt].
  • Monitoring behaviors. Alma Swan presents an interesting analysis of the views of academics/faculty [ppt]. The report on which this is based is now available [pdf]. Behind Susan Gibbons’ presentation appears to be the message that one needs a better understanding of incentives and behaviors of researchers if repositories are to become a part of workflows [ppt]. van Westrienen presents a useful overview of intiatives in different countries, underlining the fact that institutional repositories are in early days [ppt].
  • Making data work. These services are emerging in the network era, where we are used to making data work in support of service refinement. The University of Southampton has been a pioneer in mining intelligence from documents and from patterns of use. Tim Brody considers where some of this type of work will lead under the heading Science evaluation services [ppt].
  • There was refreshingly little emphasis on the instruments (the beauty contest between Fedora, Dspace,, etc) and more on data, services, organizations.
  • Infrastructure. Registry/directory/infrastructure requirements pop up in various places: service registries, format registries, identification services, aggregation services. We do not have a good institutional frameworks for securing such services. Sure, JISC or SURF can do this type of thing nationally, but we live in an incorrigibly international environment. Information infrastructure is immature.

Via cni-announce.

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