RePub, the shop window for EUR research

Some numbers

In the past seven months researchers from all over the world downloaded 90 scientific articles and 228 dissertations written by researchers at the Erasmus University … and they did so every hour! They found these articles and dissertations, together with books and book chapters, working papers, research reports, conference contributions, inaugural lectures, etcetera, on the website of RePub, the institutional repository of the EUR. In total 2,299,893 PDF-files were downloaded between October 2013 and the end of May 2014, an average of 10,313 per day. So, without exaggeration, the University Library can claim that its RePub service efficiently plays its role as the shop window for the research done at the Erasmus University.

Still work to do

At present RePub contains some 38,000 publications – substantial but far from complete. Not every author remembers to deposit a copy of his or her manuscript in the RePub mailbox as soon as an article is accepted for publication. Many interesting publications are still waiting to be included in the repository. Fortunately, RePub’s use of the Google App Engine platform guarantees seamless scalability. So, even when it is complete, and then annually growing with an average of 4,000 publications, the repository can still easily serve a much greater audience. Unfortunately, not every publication in RePub can be downloaded by everyone. Even though 55% of its content qualifies as ‘Open Access’, which is a relatively high score, still 45% of articles and book chapters produced in Rotterdam cannot be made available free of charge to everyone who is interested.

A silent service

In other words: there is room for improvement. And everyone can help. Although the repository is a service provided by the University Library, every researcher can contribute and has an interest in doing so. Needless to say that doing good research and writing interesting articles are the primary and secondary concern of all research staff. However, making results visible and accessible to as large an audience as possible, is an important complementary concern for the whole institution. Just a single illustration, produced by RePub’s “report” function, is enough to demonstrate why. It shows that since the launch of the new version of RePub in October of last year 4,592 EUR dissertations were downloaded by 64,858 unique visitors (i.e. actual, real people …) from the US alone. Perhaps even more importantly: 39,165 visitors from India downloaded a total of 3,394 different dissertations produced in Rotterdam – for free. In a sense then, the University Library provides its own “Knowledge Dissemination Service” and it does so without making too much fuzz about it – a Rotterdam tradition.

dissertationdownloads

For information about Open Access and the EUR policy see Open Access, part of our Research Matters portal.

 

Author: Hans Brandhorst

Open Access

Open AccessEven though Open Access is a much, and sometimes hotly, debated issue in the world of universities, publishers and politics, it is a very simple concept. It rests on the idea that publicly funded institutions, such as universities, should make the published results of academic research available on the internet, free of charge. At present the majority of those results, journal articles, are sold by commercial publishers. As a rule authors are requested to transfer their copyright to the publishing companies before their articles can be published. It is common practice rather than a legal obligation to do so, but it is often complicated for authors to hold on to their rights. In the past decades the feeling that universities have to buy back what originally was theirs – in the form of journal subscriptions – has become stronger and stronger. Add to this that the costs of subscriptions continue to rise while library budgets continue to shrink, and it is only logical that the academic world is looking for a way out of a ‘toll-only’ system.

Green and Golden Road
So far, a solution is sought in two main directions: the so-called Green Road and Golden Road. Open Access in accordance with the Green Road means that, even if they agree to a transfer of copyright, authors keep the right to deposit their own version of an article in an institutional repository. Somewhat simplified, “their own version” can be the text as it was originally submitted for publication, or the text as it stands after the editorial and peer review processes have run their course. Usually the institutional repository is a website that is maintained by their university (library). Depositing the manuscript of an article in a repository is already allowed by some 80% of the journals involved.
The Golden Road solution means that authors, or more likely their institutions, pay the so-called Article Processing Costs (APC) to the publisher. In exchange they have complete freedom to distribute the articles as they see fit. APC’s can vary but as a rule-of-thumb it is safe to assume they will be between 1,000 and 2,000 US dollars – per article.
At present the Open Access world is hybrid as Open Access (both Golden and Green) can be a policy at the level of a publishing house, a journal and even an article.

The right to give away
It is good to realize that in both cases, the author and/or his employer only retain (or buy) the right to give away for free what they have produced – a right that is theirs to begin with. Also: by giving away what is theirs, universities do not reduce subscription costs, since they still need to buy access to the published results of research that was done in the rest of the world…

For more background information see also Open Access, part of our Research Matters portal. The EUR repository is RePub.

Author: Hans Brandhorst