Bill Mortimer on Institutional Repositories for Open Access in Science

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Interview of Bill Mortimer, Research Support Librarian, Open University, by Richard Poynder



"One of the primary tools of the Open Access (OA) movement is the institutional repository (IR) — a freely-available web-accessible database in which university faculty are able to deposit their research outputs, notably papers that they have published in scholarly journals, and also books and book chapters.

The genesis of the institutional repository can be traced back to a 1999 meeting held in Santa Fe New Mexico, where the so-called Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) was formulated. The aim of the meeting was to create an infrastructure that could build on the success of the physics preprint repository arXiv.

Founded by Paul Ginsparg in 1991, arXiv had become an important resource for scholarly communication within the physics community, and there was a growing desire to replicate the model in other disciplines. During the Santa Fe meeting a strong case was also made for creating institutionally-based repositories that catered for all research areas in a single university, and over time the IR has become the dominant repository model. However, the primary aim of the Santa Fe meeting was to create a protocol to make repositories interoperable, regardless of whether they were central subject-based repositories or institutional repositories." (