Institutional repositories are digital collections of the outputs created within a university or research institution. Whilst the purposes of repositories may vary (for example, some universities have teaching/learning repositories for educational materials), in most cases they are established to provide Open Access to the institution’s research output.
How do repositories fit into the scholarly communication landscape?
Repositories will form a permanent and critically important part of the scholarly communication process. Their first role will be to provide extra functionality. For example, a usage-reporting service gives authors and the institution information on how the content of the repository is being used. A search service may help users find specific items more easily. A service that organizes content in specific ways may help authors, for example, to download a list of articles into their CV, or aid institutions in assessing the institutions research program or for reporting data to governments or for other statutory requirements. We may be looking forward to a time when repositories play a formal role in the publishing process. Repositories can collect articles from the institution's authors when they are ready for peer review and a peer review service will collect them from the repository for processing. There are already signs of these things happening. A few scholarly society publishers encourage authors to notify them when a paper has been deposited in a repository and is ready to be peer reviewed and published. Some university presses are working hand-in-hand with the repository when publishing books by institutional authors.
The advantages of a repository to an institution:
Opens up the outputs of the university to the world
Maximizes the visibility and impact of these outputs as a result
Showcases the university to interested constituencies - prospective staff, prospective students and other stakeholders
Collects and curates digital outputs
Manages and measures research and teaching activities
Provides a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects
Enables and encourages interdisciplinary approaches to research
Facilitates the development and sharing of digital teaching materials and aids
Supports student endeavors, providing access to theses and dissertations and a location for the development of e-portfolios
From "Open Access Institutional Repositories: A Briefing Paper," by EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS)