Open access repositories: a review.

Author:Bhat, Mohammad Hanief


Open Access (OA) repositories have attracted attention over the past several years, often as a way of furthering the cause of open access to scholarship. Currently there are 1,451 of these registered in Open DOAR (, a directory of OA repositories. To define an OA repository we must first define OA and repository. According to Pinfield (2005), OA is free, immediate, and unrestricted availability of content. Prosser (2003) defines OA as free and unrestricted access on the public Internet to literature that scholars provide without expectation of direct payment. There are many reasons for doing this; it accelerates research, enriches education, and shares learning across rich and poor nations. According to Reitz (n.d.), a repository is the physical space reserved for permanent or intermediate storage of archival material. A digital repository is where digital content and assets are stored and can be searched and retrieved for later use (Hayes, 2005). Thus, an OA repository can be defined as, "an online database ... that makes the full text of items (or complete files) it contains freely and immediately available without any access restrictions" (Pinfield, 2005). Another definition is, "a digital archive created and maintained to provide universal and free access to information ... in ... electronic format as a means of facilitating research and scholarship" (Reitz, n.d). The body of work on different facets of OA repositories is enormous. The literature review reveals that issues include OA advocacy, apprehensions, author attitudes, operations, deployment, and copyright and preservation issues.

OA Advocacy

OA is advocated by scholars like Prosser (2003), Ylotis (2005), Spigler (2002), Prosser (2004), Corrodo (2005), McCulloh (2006), etc. These scholars focus on the merits of OA and OA repositories. Prosser (2003) reports the failure of current model of scholarly communication and focuses on the development of institutional repositories and OA journals to solve this problem. Spigler (2002) points out loopholes in the present peer-review and publishing model and suggests that web services (like open archives) can be used to overcome these problems. Prosser (2004) believes that institutional repositories and OA journals hold out the promise of a fairer, more equitable, and more efficient system of scholarly communication and can better serve the international research community. Corrodo (2005) focuses on the benefits of OA, open source, and open standards, such as lower costs, greater accessibility, and better prospects for long term preservation of scholarly works. Correia and Teixeira (2005) stress the need for information professionals to be aware of the revolution taking place in scholarly communication. According to Horwood, Sullivan, Young, and Garner (2004) the management and accessibility of digital resources in OA environment are now the major responsibilities of librarians. Morrison (2004) is of the view that professional library associations should rise to the challenge of promoting OA. OA archives are beneficial for all stakeholders, and can increase the impact and impact factor for the source journals (Jacso, 2006). Falk (2003) remarks on librarians' dissatistfaction with pricing and practices in traditional publishing led to creating institutional repositories, which Johnson (2002) describes as a way to build relationships with faculty and strengthen scholarly communication. Chan (2004) sees institutional repositories as a way to give quicker access to scholarship and give it greater impact. Chan and Kirsop (2005) remark on the ability of institutional repositories to provide an opportunity for the scientific community in developing countries to make their research output public, taking advantage of servers anywhere in the world. Banks (2006) argues that institutional repositories can help preserve and retrieve grey literature.

Pinfield (2005), English (2006), and Das, Sen, and Dutta (2007) elaborate on the steps taken by various nations to promote open access for publicly-funded research. Pinfield (2005) discusses the report of the UK House of Commons Science & Technology Committee on scientific publishing, which made it mandatory to deposit research papers in OA institutional repositories. English (2006) reports that the US Federal Research Public Act of 2006 that would require major federal agencies to make peer-reviewed articles resulting from funded research openly accessible within six months of publication. Das, Sen, and Dutta (2007) cite the first annual report of National Knowledge Commission of India, 2006 which strongly advocates open access to public funded research.


A cross-section of scholars express apprehensions regarding the OA model of communication. Singh (2005) fears that peer-review may be undermined through OA, reducing the authenticity of the research papers. Similar apprehensions are expressed by scholars at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, as reported by Warlick and Vaughan (2007). The study reveals that free public availability and increased exposure are not strong enough incentives for authors to choose OA unless the quality issue is also addressed. An international survey by Rowlands, Nicholas, and Hungtingten (2004) affirms that author attitudes toward OA are generally positive, although there are significant reservations about quality control and preservation. Medeiros (2004) argues that many issues are yet to be resolved both technically and politically...

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