Improving the discoverability and web impact of open repositories: techniques and evaluation

Author : George Macgregor

In this contribution we experiment with a suite of repository adjustments and improvements performed on Strathprints, the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, institutional repository powered by EPrints 3.3.13.

These adjustments were designed to support improved repository web visibility and user engagement, thereby improving usage. Although the experiments were performed on EPrints it is thought that most of the adopted improvements are equally applicable to any other repository platform.

Following preliminary results reported elsewhere, and using Strathprints as a case study, this paper outlines the approaches implemented, reports on comparative search traffic data and usage metrics, and delivers conclusions on the efficacy of the techniques implemented.

The evaluation provides persuasive evidence that specific enhancements to technical aspects of a repository can result in significant improvements to repository visibility, resulting in a greater web impact and consequent increases in content usage.

COUNTER usage grew by 33% and traffic to Strathprints from Google and Google Scholar was found to increase by 63% and 99% respectively. Other insights from the evaluation are also explored.

The results are likely to positively inform the work of repository practitioners and open scientists.


The dark side of Open Access in Google and Google Scholar: the case of Latin-American repositories


Since repositories are a key tool in making scholarly knowledge open access, determining their presence and impact on the Web is essential, particularly in Google (search engine par excellence) and Google Scholar (a tool increasingly used by researchers to search for academic information). The few studies conducted so far have been limited to very specific geographic areas (USA), which makes it necessary to find out what is happening in other regions that are not part of mainstream academia, and where repositories play a decisive role in the visibility of scholarly production. The main objective of this study is to ascertain the presence and visibility of Latin American repositories in Google and Google Scholar through the application of page count and visibility indicators. For a sample of 137 repositories, the results indicate that the indexing ratio is low in Google, and virtually nonexistent in Google Scholar; they also indicate a complete lack of correspondence between the repository records and the data produced by these two search tools. These results are mainly attributable to limitations arising from the use of description schemas that are incompatible with Google Scholar (repository design) and the reliability of web indicators (search engines). We conclude that neither Google nor Google Scholar accurately represent the actual size of open access content published by Latin American repositories; this may indicate a non-indexed, hidden side to open access, which could be limiting the dissemination and consumption of open access scholarly literature.


Revistas y producción científica de América Latina y el Caribe: su visibilidad en SciELO, RedALyC y SCOPUS

Este trabajo comparó la cobertura de revistas procedentes de América Latina y el Caribe incluidas en SciELO, RedALyC y SCOPUS, por país y por tema. Calculó el porcentaje de revistas en estas fuentes en relación con las registradas en el catálogo de LATINDEX. Estimó el volumen de la producción científica que registra visibilidad en las tres fuentes y su evolución en el período 2005-2009. Los resultados indicaron que las tres fuentes son complementarias. En promedio, el porcentaje de solapamiento de títulos es bajo y desigual la distribución de revistas por países. Ningún país registró en las fuentes estudiadas todas las revistas incluidas en LATINDEX. SCOPUS y SciELO están más equilibradas temáticamente que RedALyC, que mostró un marcado sesgo hacia las ciencias sociales. El volumen de producción científica visible en SCOPUS es muy superior al de SciELO y RedALyC, aunque su distribución por países es muy desigual. Las tres fuentes registran tendencias de crecimiento de la producción en el período analizado.


Institutional Repositories: Facilitating Structure, Collaborations, Scholarly Communications, and Institutional Visibility

Digital libraries (in all of their variants) can be great tools to help libraries in providing better and faster services to their users. However it is also the very thing that threatens the survival of the (traditional) libraries.

That is if libraries will not redefine their roles amidst the emergence of these new tools. Digital institutional repositories (IR) – as a species of digital libraries (Lynch, 2003) – is the opportunity that libraries and librarians can seize to redefine their roles and re-assert their influence in their user communities.

Digital libraries are commonly used to manage digital collections that usually generated by vendors (eJournals, eBooks, etc.). Acquisitions, Cataloging, Circulation, and Reference that used to be the domains of librarians are being taken away in digital libraries realm. However there are some functions that vendors and publishers will never take away from libraries, which is the development, management, and use of local content (locally-produced information resources and/or information resources that contain features of local entities).

Every community, especially higher education communities, is rich with local contents with their various formats – often in very unconventional manifestations. Based on experiences gained in developing digital local contents at Desa Infromasi project, it is believed that efforts in identifying, collecting, digitizing, cataloging, and disseminating local content re-affirm the roles of libraries as an entity that establish structure in otherwise chaotic world of myriad information resources.

The efforts will also open up avenues for libraries to assume ‘new’ roles as a facilitator of collaborations among different community of users and scholarly communications across disciplines of knowledge (in the context of higher education institutions).

All these will in the end help promoting institutional visibility. Besides dealing with digitization, libraries will find themselves exploring a whole new world of outreach that will redefine their roles in their institution and society. In short, although the chapter will touch on technical aspects of digital libraries, it will focus on the impacts and influence that libraries can assert to their user communities while they are developing and disseminating digital local content using IR.

Thus digital libraries should not be viewed as an end. Instead they are great tools for libraries to reinvigorate their roles in their user communities. The discussion will use Desa Informasi project as a study case.

The discussion on this chapter is the results of the expansion and ‘conversation’ from several of my previous articles, as follows: 1. “Desa Informasi: Local Content Global Reach” published in the proceeding of the 2005 Annual Seminar of the International Council on Archives – Section on University and Research Institutions Archives (East Lansing, Michigan – U.S.A. – Sep 6-9, 2005) 2. “Desa Informasi: The Role of Digital Libraries in the Preservation and Dissemination of Indigenous Knowledge” published in 2006 by Elsevier in International Information and Library Review, 38(3), pp. 123-131. 3. “Desa Informasi: A Virtual Village of “New” Information Resources and Services” published in 2007 by Emerald in Program: Electronic Library and Information System, 41 (3), pp. 276-290. 4. “Surabaya Memory: Representing Minority Voices in the Digital History of A City.” Published in Archives and Manuscripts – The Journal of the Australian Society of Archivists, 37 (2), pp. 127-137. 5. “Surabaya Memory: Opportunities and Challenges of Open Access e-Heritage Repositories” – in writing process for IFLA Satellite Conference in Chania, Greece – Aug 2010.


Visibility of the scientific production of the University of León (ULE), Spain

This study measured the international visibility of the ULE research output and the importance of the journals in which ULE researchers published their work, based on the references indexed in international databases (Scopus, WoS, Academic Search, Biosis, Biological Abstracts, PubMed, Francis and FSTA), from 1998 to 2006.

The total production between 1998-2006 was 2,317 documents (2,005 articles and 108 conference papers). ULE’s research in science and technology is more represented in databases than social sciences and humanities. An increasing presence of ULE research in international databases is observed.

High collaboration level among authors (groups of 4 – 5), but mainly internal within ULE (69.49%). More than 75% of the articles have been referenced in JCR (WoS) or SJR (Scopus). The coverage of journals in which ULE researchers published is higher in Scopus, but WoS indexed more papers.