Thursday, June 14, 2007

Repository Success at the University of Minnesota

New SPARC partnership points to the exemplary subject-specific model behind AgEcon Search

SOURCE: SPARC Email Release
Washington, DC - June 14, 2007 - SPARC has aligned with AgEcon Search: Research in Agricultural and Applied Economics, a free Web-based repository at the University of Minnesota that collects, indexes, and electronically distributes full-text copies of scholarly research. This SPARC Scientific Communities partnership recognizes how the creators of AgEcon Search have developed a model subject-specific repository that is innovative, collaborative, and successful as a focal resource for studies in the field.

The AgEcon Search ( collection includes current and archival working papers, journal articles, and conference papers that focus on agricultural economics and sub-disciplines such as agribusiness, food supply, natural resource economics, environmental economics, policy issues, agricultural trade, and economic development. The project is a collaboration of the University of Minnesota Libraries, the university Department of Applied Economics, and the American Agricultural Economics Association. Special projects have been funded by grants from the Farm Foundation, the USDA Economics Research Service, the American Agricultural Economics Association Foundation, and the National Agricultural Library.

Although launched 10 years ago as a repository for current working papers, AgEcon Search now includes 13 journals - and that number will grow in the coming year. Journal participants are diverse. Some are e-only journals that have their own Web sites but are part of AgEcon Search because it enhances their visibility and use. Others are print journals for which AgEcon Search serves as the only electronic distribution channel. A few have undertaken digitization projects and have contributed material back to the 1950s. AgEcon Search will serve as the permanent archive for this literature and encourages authors and organizations to use the electronic library as the storehouse for additional appropriate scholarly electronic works.

The project operates as what economists refer to as a distributed network. The leading partners - the University Libraries and Department of Applied Economics - contribute staff time, equipment, and funds for student support. Content contributors take on the work of preparing each paper, completing the submission form, and delivering the manuscripts to AgEcon Search - thus minimizing what needs to be done centrally. If a group chooses, they may pay (on a cost-recovery basis) to have their accumulated resources incorporated. To ensure the quality of the research in the collection, an organized scholarly community such as a society, association, university department, or organization must sponsor the work submitted, and each group has a peer review process in place for contributions.

Ten years since its launch, AgEcon Search has become an important tool for academe and industry. The collection contains over 24,000 papers from 140 institutions and professional associations, and over 1.25 million downloads have been recorded since 2001.

"From the outset, this project has been a partnership of the library, the academic department, and the association," noted University Librarian Wendy Lougee. "We have worked hand-in-hand to design a resource that would serve the discipline effectively. The Department of Applied Economics has been an invaluable partner and it is due in large part to their involvement that the project has achieved such success. It is our hope that libraries will help other disciplines to adopt the model of collecting and electronically archiving literature from a discipline that might otherwise be difficult to access."

"SPARC is pleased to help raise the profile of a repository initiative that has drawn its success from cross-campus and society collaboration," said SPARC Director Heather Joseph. "The founders of AgEcon Search have demonstrated that researcher involvement is key, and that focusing on the unique needs of a specific discipline can help not only to overcome the hurdles involved in growing a repository, but to create a new hub for the free and open study of a specific topic."

AgEcon Search completed a successful migration to the DSpace software in April, and has become part of the University's Digital Conservancy that is hosted by the University Libraries.

No comments: