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University of Southampton to provide free access to academic research

Published: 
16 December 2004
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The University of Southampton is to make all its academic and scientific research output freely available.

A decision by the University to provide core funding for its Institutional Repository establishes it as a central part of its research infrastructure, marking a new era for Open Access to academic research in the UK. Until now, the databases used by universities to collect and disseminate their research output have been funded on an experimental basis by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee). The University of Southampton is the first in the UK to announce that it is transitioning its repository from the status of an experiment to an integral part of the research infrastructure of the institution.

‘This decision by the University marks a real milestone in the Open Access initiative,’ says Dr Leslie Carr. ‘At Southampton we have a significant headstart since we created the EPrints software that is used by many UK universities, but we expect and indeed hope that others will soon give similar status to their own archives.’ Dr Carr is Technical Director of the open source GNU EPrints software, which is now used by around 150 repositories worldwide. Southampton established its repository (http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/) in 2002 as part of the JISC TARDis project (Targeting Academic Research for Deposit and Disclosure), to explore issues surrounding the Open Access paradigm. The repository provides a publications database with full text, multimedia and research data.

‘We see our Institutional Repository as a key tool for the stewardship of the University’s digital research assets,’ said Professor Paul Curran, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. ‘It will provide greater access to our research, as well as offering a valuable mechanism for reporting and recording it.

‘The University has been committed to Open Access for many years. The fact that we are now supporting it with core funding is another tangible step towards its full achievement.’

The Southampton repository will now become a service of the University Library in partnership with the University’s Information Systems Services and its School of Electronics and Computer Science (who host the JISC-funded software development team).

Acknowledging the success of the partnership between the Library, Information Systems Services and the Schools, the Librarian, Dr Mark Brown, said: ‘Collaboration between services and academic groups has been the key element in the success of the project. The Institutional Repository will now become an integral part of the electronic library service at Southampton.’

Professor Stevan Harnad, regarded by many as the founder of the Open Access movement, has been successfully leading the debate from the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science over a number of years, and has argued forcefully for its adoption by the academic community worldwide. The School of Electronics and Computer Science already has the most populated online institutional archive in the UK.

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