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Repository ranking underlines Southampton’s global influence

Published: 
4 March 2013

The global influence and quality of the University of Southampton’s online repository of research is recognised in the latest world rankings.

Southampton’s EPrints repository of over 65,000 research records – and growing - is ranked first in the UK, fourth in Europe and fifth in the world according to the "The Ranking Web of World repositories". As an institution, the rankings place the University fifth in the UK, 16th in Europe and 92nd in the world.

Dr Leslie Carr, Director of the University’s EPrints Repository Software Team, praised the University’s continued recognition amongst the top institutions in the world for creating and maintaining open access to its world-leading research.

“As a University we are clearly at the forefront of the open access ‘revolution’,” said Dr Carr. “Our world ranking is an excellent achievement which underlines the success of our policies and practices which ensure that the world can access our scientific research via the World Wide Web for the benefit of all.”

The rankings are an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group belonging to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain. The rankings have been published since 2006. The Ranking Web provides a list of mainly research-oriented repositories arranged according to web presence and the web impact (link visibility) of their contents with data obtained from major commercial search engines.

The University of Southampton is a recognised pioneer of both the open access and open data ‘revolutions’.

The University, through its expertise in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), is a world-leader in the technology and design of open access repositories as well as the introduction of institutional open access policy and strategy. Southampton was the first University in the UK to adopt a formal mandate requiring that academic staff make all of their published research available online through the institutional repository which now carries more than 65,000 records.

Southampton created the free repository software EPrints in 2000, which is now used by universities all over the world for Open Access self-archiving - known as ‘Green OA’. (The same Southampton doctoral student who created EPrints also went on to create MIT’s DSpace, the other free repository software being used worldwide.) Southampton had one of the first Green OA Repositories in 2001 and the world's first Green OA mandate in 2003. Southampton’s mandate recommendation was also followed by the 2004 UK Select Committee, which led to the RCUK Green OA mandate as well as Green OA mandates by over 250 universities and research funders worldwide. Ten years after it was made in 2003 Southampton’s recommendation to make Green OA self-archiving in institutional repositories mandatory for all submissions to the RAE has now been proposed by HEFCE for all submissions to REF after 2014.

Professor Stevan Harnad, one of the leading proponents of the OA movement, both as a Professor in ECS and one of the most respected members of the worldwide OA community, explains the importance of the UK's role in OA leadership at this crucial time, in an article published today (4 March): Worldwide open access: UK Leadership?

In December 2012, Southampton’s Open Data Service was awarded the Times Higher Education award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year. The initiative provides open access to University data to help improve the life of the University and local communities whilst increasing the transparency of institutional operations.

Also in December, Southampton Professors Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee took part in the formal opening of the UK government’s new Open Data Institute (ODI) which they jointly lead. Based in Shoreditch in East London's Tech City, the world-leading ODI will become the 'go to' venue for those seeking to create new products, entrepreneurial opportunities and economic growth from open data. The ODI will promote innovation driven by the Government’s Open Data Policy, helping the public sector use its own data more effectively and developing the capability of UK businesses to exploit the commercial value of open data.

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