Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 10, 2006

The case for using IRs for more than research eprints

Dorothea Salo, What's an IR for? Caveat Lector, March 8, 2006. Excerpt:
Arthur Saleís risk assessment for institutional repositories is every bit as good as everyone says it is. Should be in every repository-ratís documents drawer. In it, however, we find repeated the assertion that an IR should limit itself strictly to the peer-reviewed research literature of its target population. I still think thatís deeply wrong, but itís up to me to defend my belief. The cited concern is cost. Further details are sketchy, but the general idea seems to be that doing ďdigital-library stuff,Ē whatever that is, requires a lot of technical jiggery-pokery that costs a lot of money, and loading that into an IRís budget makes the IR look cost-ineffective, which creates the impression that OA is cost-ineffective....To put it briefly: if what you want is Greenstone, donít use DSpace....Still, it does not follow that an IR is intrinsically poorly-suited to every conceivable digital-library need beyond archiving peer-reviewed research. To be a good fit with an IR, a project should consist of individual, self-sufficient pieces of work that donít really need to be seen next to each other or manipulated during viewing by the patron....To me it seems absurd and arrogant to forbid a library thatís undertaken an IR project to use it for purposes that otherwise make sense but donít consist of peer-reviewed literature....[T]he alternative --I speak frankly-- is an empty repository. Itís dead simple to set up an empty repository. A lot of people have. An empty repository strikes me as far more likely to be accused of misallocation of resources, fold, and threaten OA by folding, than a repository that has made itself useful in other ways besides holding on to peer-reviewed research....[T]he only way we get [to better times] is by enduring the current grim times long enough. Which means we canít --absolutely cannot-- sit around with our IR doors barred to everything but peer-reviewed research while we wait for mandates that may never come.