Repositories and disclosure

Lorcan 1 min read

Andy Powell has posted a long and interesting post prompted by the OpenDOAR Custom Search initiative I mention below. In the course of his discussion he makes some points about repositories and discovery that intersect with recent discussion in these pages.

Overall, what I conclude from this (once again) is that it is not the act of depositing a paper in a repository that is important for open access, but the act of surfacing the paper on the Web – the repository is just a means to en end in that respect. More fundamentally, I conclude that the way we configure, run and use repositories has to fit in with the way the Web works – not work against it or around it! First and foremost, our ‘resource discovery’ efforts should centre on exposing the full text of research papers in repositories to search engines like Google and on developing Web-friendly and consistent approaches to creating hypertext links between research papers. [eFoundations: Pushing an OpenDOAR]

Two things: disclosure and repositories.
Disclosure. We are used to thinking about discovery, and constructing discovery environments. However, we also need to acknowledge that discovery often takes place in environments outside our local control (Google, Amazon, …). We need to get used to thinking about disclosure. Resources need to be effectively disclosed into the discovery environments where people are. In other contexts I have spoken about ‘on web’ and ‘off web’. For many, materials that are not in Google are ‘off web’ are not discovered. In the next few years I think we will spend more time working through what effective disclosure means. Andy makes this point above.
Repositories. A repositories is a set of services on managed content. In many repository discussions I hear, the conversation immediately jumps to a comparison of repository software. But what we now call institutional repositories will surely become a part of wider research process support. What is currently the institutional repository will be a component of the workflow/curation/disclosure apparatus that develops to support research activities. How that support develops is an interesting question, which the repository focus only partly touches.
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