Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Institutional Repository: Will It Achieve Wide Acceptance?

In a recent article in Nature News (Sept. 9, 2009) titled "Data Sharing: Empty Archives," examples are given of institutional repositories (IRs) which have not gained acceptance among researchers. To some degree, whether or not a scientist will deposit his or her work in an IR depends upon the common practice of their particular discipline. But in many research areas the adage "build it and they will come" has not proven to be the case.

The article also provides a number of examples of efforts to encourage data sharing as well as reasons why such sharing is beneficial to researchers. Copyright concerns, privacy rights of study participants, and sufficient funding for technology can slow or halt progress toward open access to data. Successful use of IRs may ultimately depend on the backing of the major players:
Perhaps not surprisingly, data-sharing advocates say, the power to prod researchers towards openness and consistency rests largely with those who have always had the most clout in science: the funding agencies, which can demand data sharing in return for support; the scientific societies, which can establish it as a precedent; and the journals, which can make sharing a condition of publication.

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