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123 1 1 BUSINESS PLANNING FOR DIGITAL REPOSITORIES Alma Swan State of the art Digital repositories are coming of age. Globally, on average, there has been a repository built every day for the past three years. There are currently (early 2009) around 1300 worldwide. It will be a rare research-based institution which does not have its own repository within a few years. Why the rush? Because the advantages to an institution of having a repository are so great and the payoff so important. Repositories are a strategic weapon in an institution’s armoury, providing the means for developing new institutional processes, enhancing existing ones and promoting the institution to the world. There is a higher-level view on the strategic importance of repositories, too. National or regional level strategies for e-research (or e-science, as some countries call it) articulate schemes where digital open access repositories form the fundamental data-provision layer. See, for example, the National Science Foundation’s plans in the US (NSF/JISC Repositories Workshop 2007), JISC’s Repositories Roadmap for the UK (Heery and Powell 2006); SURF’s Strategic Plan for the Netherlands (SURF 2008), Australia’s e-Research programme (Australian Government 2009) and Europe’s Roadmap for Research Infrastructures (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures 2008). To enable these strategies, coordination mechanisms for repository developments are growing. On a Europe-wide basis, the DRIVER Project provides standards and guidelines for the establishment of digital repositories by research organisations across the continent. National-level repository network developments are also increasing as a result of national ICT or research funding organisations coordinating the development of networks of interoperable repositories across the research base. For example, in the Netherlands the DAREnet network has encouraged and enabled a repository in every Dutch university. Despite rapid developments, the overall situation has not yet shaken down. There are no hard-and-fast rules which can be applied, though generalities are certainly forming, and the main one of these is that institutions seem to think that having a repository is A Good Thing. But an institution can spend a lot of money establishing a repository, or very little. Its repository may fill quickly and smoothly, or it may remain virtually empty for years. It may become firmly embedded in the working life of the institution’s researchers, or it may be something of which they are barely aware. Critically, the repository can be the tool which boosts the institution’s presence on the world’s web stage, or it can help to consign the institution to web obscurity (Swan & Carr 2008). BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 123 13/07/10 11:51 Alma Swan 124 A well-planned repository enables a higher education institution to: –  open up and offer the outputs of the institution or community to the world –  impact on and influence developments by maximising the visibility of outputs and providing the greatest possible chance of enhanced impact as a result –  showcase and sell the institution to interested constituencies – prospective staff, prospective students and other stakeholders –  collect and curate digital outputs (or inputs, in the case of special collections) –  manage and measure research and teaching activities –  provide and promote a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects –  facilitate and further the development and sharing of digital teaching materials and aids –  support and sustain student endeavours, including providing access to theses and dissertations and providing a location for the development of e-portfolios This list gives rise to the first – and most important – question which any institution must answer before it even begins to build its repository: what are we doing this for? There are some sparkling examples of repositories that are real strategic assets in their institutions. They may be the windows on the institution’s research, they may facilitate didactic activity, they may be caring for the institution’s precious special collections, but wherever a repository is succeeding, it has always been conceived with clarity of purpose and implemented with strong focus. Business planning ‘What are we doing this for?’ begs another question, and that is ‘What kind of business model should our repository have?’. Deciding upon business models for enterprises that do not earn revenue is a tricky exercise, but there is some guidance from what has gone before. In 2004, Clarke discussed business models for open source software enterprises in the context of a series of questions (Clarke 2004): –  who pays? –  pays what? –  for what? –  to whom? –  why? These are questions that must form part...


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