Institutional repositories and their use

March 20, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A recent issue of D-Lib magazine contains an article by Cornell describing how faculty use (or don’t use) their institutional repository:

Of the eleven faculty members interviewed, only four knew about the existence of DSpace, and only one member (the historian) had deposited items in it.

Whoops.  Some interesting tidbits: a) many faculty don’t seem to care about the whole “information wants to be free” thing, preferring to protect their scholarly reputations and tenure-track-ability; b) some mentioned not wanting their work association with a repository that had a bad rep for including some crap in it; c) some (esp. in the humanities) did not want their preliminary research released before official publication, for fear of plagiarism; d) redundancy with personal/departmental webpages is a barrier.  The historian interviewed also noted the inflexibility of DSpace for categorization and searching.

 

On the “pro-repository” side, permanence/archiving was mentioned as a factor.  A few faculty were aware that materials in the depository had metadata that allowed them to be retrieved easily using Google (really?).

 

“It is not clear in my mind the future of journals versus the arXiv,” stated the engineer. “The old school of paper journals and digital repositories are on a collision course.”

The reward structure established by each discipline largely defines the motivation behind faculty behavior. As eloquently stated by the economist, “While we are going through a digital revolution – in the way we teach and communicate with each other – the reputation of being published in the print journals is still the strongest incentive for motivation.” This position was largely echoed by the engineer, who stated “what is holding us to the journal is the promotion procedure. This is about a problem of measurement with how Cornell evaluates my work.”

That said, there are real risks associated with changing one’s practices, especially when one assumes the role of an early innovator. As the communication faculty member summarized, “There has to be a better way than the current system, but I’m not willing to be on the leading edge in using that system.”

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