1.2 Open Access Repositories

There are mainly two routes to Open Access, namely the green and the gold routes. Open Access repositories are referred to as the green route to Open Access, while publishing in Open Access journals is referred to as the gold route to Open Access. Institutions such as universities and research organisations can implement either or both - not only to support Open Access, but also to preserve the digital research assets of the institution. The three main categories of repositories are:

  • Institutional repositories;
  • Subject/discipline specific repositories; and
  • Data repositories.

1.2.1 Institutional repositories

Clifford Lynch4 (2003) coined the original description of an institutional repository in the following words: “... a university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution.”Institutional (digital) repositories can also be referred to as document servers enabling members of a specific research community to self-archive their research output and to make their research output available to the public without any access barriers. Since these repositories are institutional, content depends on the focus of the institution or organisation. A higher education institution conducting research across multiple disciplines can follow a multi-disciplinary approach, including research from different subject areas in a single repository. A repository can contain new research (e.g. theses/dissertations) as well as research previously published in a subscription journal only, provided that there is an agreement between the author, publisher and institution. Both the metadata (data about data) as well as the full text are indexed, and harvested by popular search engines, provided that open standards are used.Examples of institutional repositories include:

  • Virginia Tech University Digital Library and Archives5
  • MIT Institutional Repository6
  • University of Queensland UQ eSpace7

For more examples on multi-disciplinary institutional repositories, visit OpenDOAR8.

1.2.2 Subject/discipline specific repositories

Subject/discipline specific repositories (SSOAR9) store and provide access to the scholarly output of a particular subject area, for example an individual discipline. It can be a subject repository within a specific institution, or it can collect discipline specific research across various institutions. Important German projects include PsyDok10, a discipline-specific full-text server for (German-language) psychology, and SSOAR, an internationally-oriented social science full-text server. CiteSeer11 contains academic and scientific papers primarily from computer and information science, while arXiv12contains scientific papersin the fields of mathematics, physics, astronomy, computer science, quantitativebiology, statistics, and quantitative finance.For more examples on subject/discipline specific repositories, visitOpenDOAR.









1.2.3 Data repositories

Data repositories are based on the same principles as institutional and subject/discipline specific repositories, with the only exception that it focuses on providing access to datasets. These datasets can be subject specific or across disciplines. A dataset is a set of files containing both research data - usually numeric or encoded - and documentation sufficient to make the data re-usable. The documentation can refer to any digital files such as a codebook, technical or methodology report or user guide, which explain the research data’s production, provenance, processing or interpretation (University of Edinburgh13, 2013). Nowadays scientific papers are often submitted to the institutional repository with the data attached to the paper. The same applies to theses and dissertations, especially where it is an institutional requirement that the data be preserved for future reference, should it be questioned following the publication of the thesis/dissertation on an institutional repository. Examples of data repositories:

  • Edinburgh DataShare
  • National Geographic Data Center
  • Dryad
Last modified: Friday, 26 March 2021, 10:55 AM