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The role of institutional repositories in developing the communication of scholarly research

Rebecca Mary Marsh (Bingley, UK)

OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives

ISSN: 1065-075X

Article publication date: 9 November 2015




This paper aims to uncover the central purposes of institutional repositories, how developments are being affected by policies and researcher behaviour and also what services and approaches are appropriate in supporting repositories from those partners involved in scholarly communication with a particular focus on services that support the publication of research.


The research reviews the literature and current practices within higher education with regard to the core purposes of institutional repositories, the possible causes of low population of repositories in some institutions and subject disciplines, how this is being addressed and likely future developments. A qualitative survey using semi-structured interviews explores current best practices and tests the specific research questions that emerged from the literature review.


The rate at which institutional repositories have grown in number has been very fast in recent years, but the population of repositories with research has been relatively slow. The research identified a number of reasons as to why the population of repositories was likely to accelerate in the future and have a more significant impact on scholarly communication. The main catalysts are: strengthening of national and funder policies that serve to both mandate open access (green or gold) and raise awareness of open access amongst faculty; the alignment of repositories with current research information systems within universities; and the development of metadata and open archives initiative harvesting that will improve discoverability and usage data.

Research limitations/implications

As many of the issues around the development of repositories centre on the attitudes of faculty, it would also provide an interesting extension to the research to understand their views of the role of institutional repositories, too.

Practical implications

The study presents a number of possible new ways of working by both information professionals and publishers to improve scholarly communication through the inclusion of research within institutional repositories and how perceived barriers could be overcome.

Social implications

The study provides guidance on how the communication of scholarly research could be improved and reach a wider audience. This, in turn, will benefit researchers, corporate organisations and the public at large.


The paper provides a review of current best practices in managing institutional repositories and identifies new ways of addressing some of the perceived barriers to populating repositories and the benefits for each stakeholder in the scholarly communication process.



The author would like to thank Emerald Group Publishing for providing the financial support to undertake this project and Dr Keith Howard, in particular, for his advice. In addition, the author would like to thank each of the interviewees who very generously set time aside to participate in the research.


Marsh, R.M. (2015), "The role of institutional repositories in developing the communication of scholarly research", OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 163-195.



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