Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 20, 2009

Your comments on the future of Depot

Consultation on Role of the Depot, EDINA, February 16, 2009.  Excerpt:

The role of the Depot must change before the end of 2009.

We have come to the view that we should not decide upon the future of the Depot without first consulting wider among those who are working to promote and enable sharing of research through Open Access (OA) self-archiving, both in the UK and internationally. For the first part of that consultation process we approached a small number of individuals and we are grateful for their comments; those have helped frame the options we are considering. We now seek your input in a short period of consultation over the next four weeks.

The initial role of the Depot has been to provide the UK academic community with an online deposit facility for eprints during the interim period while Institutional Repositories (IRs) were being set up. Among other policy issues this was to put in place material support for the prospect of mandates for Open Access self-archiving. The initial purpose for the Depot has been judged to have been completed, and the project funding from JISC for the Depot as part of JISC RepositoryNet is coming to an end.

The Depot was never planned to be a central repository that would rival institutional repositories; rather it has complemented them by assisting both researchers-as-authors by providing two support functions.  The first is that of re-direction, linking the potential depositor of an eprint with the appropriate UK institutional repository....The second is that of ingest, enabling deposit of that eprint, and thus exposure under terms of Open Access for those UK academic authors not having an appropriate IR. Both functions are computer-aided and without mediation by library or other support staff....

Could the Depot add value by continuing as support activity for the open access agenda, or else when and how to close the Depot? Please give us your views.

Preliminary discussion with advocates of OA self-archiving have indicated that there is value in continuing the Depot in order to assist OA sharing of research output internationally, especially where IR capacity is not yet comprehensive. There has also been discussion about how to develop the re-direction capabilities more generally, including support of OA deposit mandates by funding bodies - for example, by helping their funded researchers locate the appropriate IR.

The existing Depot service will be fully supported until at least 30 September 2009. Next month (March) or shortly thereafter we will decide what to do based upon feedback from yourselves, and any other developments, using the following six months to enact an agreed plan. This might include re-branding or change of mission and message, as well as arranging the transfer of the limited content that we have in the Depot to some other repository or even handing over the running of the Depot to another body.

Your comments are welcome, and should be sent to, marked 'Role of the Depot'.


  • I'm one who thinks that Depot plays a valuable role in supporting green OA for scholars who don't have an OA repository in their institution or field, and that Depot could play its current role internationally after its UK funding comes to an end.  But whether you agree with me or not, please let your views be known.
  • Also see our past posts on Depot.

Update (2/21/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

Summary:  Please take the time to express your support for sustaining the Depot, a far-seeing and timely JISC Project that just happened to come slightly before its historical time! Please make sure the Depot is kept alive so that it can now come into its own, to perform the crucial role it was intended to perform, and set the example for the rest of the world. The reason the Depot has lain fallow (with only 66 deposits) to date is exactly the same reason virtually all of the world's Institutional Repositories (IRs) have been lying fallow: They are waiting for the "slumbering giant" (the world's universities and research institutions) to wake up and mandate deposit of their own research output. Meanwhile, funders have been providentially mandating deposit of the research they fund, but needlessly and counterproductively insisting upon institution-external, central deposit -- instead of mandating institutional deposit and central export (via SWORD) -- simply because not every institution has its own IR yet! Yet that is exactly the transitional role Depot was designed to fulfill: to provide an interim repository for any UK institution that has no IR yet, so its research output can be made OA until it sets up its own IR, to which its deposits can then be automatically exported. Well the token is at last beginning to drop for funders. So let's keep Depot alive to catch it, and help propel the UK (and by its example, the rest of world) to universal OA IR deposit mandates by funders and institutions alike.