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Helmholtz Centre of Infection Research case study

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Roland Weller, Librarian & Main Repository Administrator


1.What led your organization to set up a repository?

The Helmholtz Centres are founding members of the Berlin Declaration on open access. Hence, the Helmholtz libraries chose to organize and implement repositories for their individual centres. Based on this, the decision was made to implement an open access institutional repository.

2. What attracted you to a hosted repository solution rather than running a repository in-house?

Originally we tried to install a repository on our own with open source software. However, we soon realized that it is not easy to run a web server with all the administrational and security work that is required. Also, our computing department has strict restrictions on dividing the web from our intranet by proxy, which meant they were unable to support us in this project.

Therefore, we quickly realized that the work associated with setting up a repository internally was much greater than anticipated and would put a strain on our resources, which in meant we failed at implementing the repository ourselves so the decision was made to opt for a hosted solution.


3. What specific benefits attracted you to Open Repository?

We were looking for a hosted solution, and at the time (2004/2005) there was no possibility of doing this within Germany. The university libraries were only setting up their own repositories and were not offering anything, or opening their repositories for small institutes to use.

When BioMed Central offered us a hosted solution, it seemed to be the perfect solution for us as we had just become a BioMed Central Member institution, thus allowing us to get all of our open access requirements from one source.

4. How does the repository fit in with your organization’s open access initiative?

We understand that the green road of open access is very important to our institution. By having a repository we are fulfilling this need and are seeing the benefits that it brings. We are also following the gold route of open access by having a Membership with BioMed Central, the open access specialists, which is helping us to follow both routes.

5. Which departments and/or individuals have been involved in setting up and running your repository?

The project was initiated by the Helmholtz Centre for Infectious Diseases (HZI) (at that time it was GBF) who, being a founder member of the Berlin Declaration, wanted to make sure that all of our research was accessible on a global basis

The project was initially led by the library, and now I continue to manage and populate the HZI repository internally, with the support provided by Open Repository.

6. Where did the funding for your repository come from?

The repository is fully funded from the library budget. However we are looking for a solution to include this in the institutional overhead costs.

7. How easy has it proved to be to populate your repository with content?

Populating the repository has turned out to be easy because we manage it centrally and therefore do not have to train the institutional staff on it. This also means that all departments within our Centre are fully represented within the repository.

Our library manager asks the researchers for their manuscripts and then puts them into the repository. Even though they may be bound by copyright restrictions, the enhanced feature released by Open Repository means that they can be deposited straight away with embargo dates included, as stated in the Sherpa/Romeo list.

To encourage users to provide their items for submission in the repository, we inform them that we will check the legal conditions for submitting their work into the repository, and will add covers with the institutional logo and reference to the original article for them. This enables the researchers to be confident that they are in compliance with any embargos and can see the benefits to themselves and the institute of depositing their research into the repository.

8. How has your repository helped your organization?

This repository has helped showcase the scientific output of our institute in the worldwide repository network. There are no specific funder mandates that we have to comply with in Germany and therefore a repository is not obligatory, however it does represent the publicly funded research of the institute.

Our repository has also helped us realize that the main usage of our research comes from Asia, Africa and South America, where many scientists may not have access to the original article. It is therefore increasing the reach of the institute’s published research in areas we may not have thought of previously.

9. How has your repository been received?

The repository looks good, but it is not a tool that is used internally by the scientists at our institute, as we have other solutions that they use. Therefore we have received little feedback directly from them, the benefits and feedback are from external users

We use the enhanced Google Analytics feature implemented by the Open Repository team to assess the usage, and were surprised by the fact that while trying to get some numbers for this report, the usage shows to be up by 12.32%. This is due to a total of 2,653 visitors in the last month. The majority are coming from the USA, despite the fact that most scientists there have access to most journals they need. China comes next with 286 visits per month, India (190 visits) and the United Kingdom (190 visits).

The high usage by visitors from Germany (292 visits in a month) has been attributed to the library staff working on the repository. However, we were surprised that 87.7% of these German visits are from new visitors!

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