University of Stirling academics have been told that they must make all their published research freely available online, as part of a groundbreaking move towards "open-access" research.
Stirling said this week that it is the first UK university to make such a requirement, with its academic council issuing a mandate across the institution for all theses and journal articles to be archived.
Ian Simpson, deputy principal for research and knowledge, said: "We believe that the outcomes of all publicly funded research should be made available as widely as possible. By ensuring free online access to our research output we will maximise the visibility and impact of the university's work ... worldwide."
The new Stirling Online Research Repository (STORRE) is the culmination of a four-year project. The undertaking began in 2004 when the university and 19 other institutions signed the Open Access Team for Scotland declaration, which states that it is crucial for research to be disseminated across the world, with Scotland not only gaining access to others' findings but showcasing its own expertise.
Information technology specialist Clare Allan, who with Michael White brought STORRE to fruition, said the repository had initially focused on electronic theses, with Stirling being one of the first universities to require such work to be submitted electronically.
Mr White said: "(Researchers) will benefit from greater visibility of their work, such as increased citations, which can lead to improved funding. To quantify this, they can track how often each article is viewed. Being a secure central and searchable database, STORRE acts as a record of each individual's research career and can help with research-reporting exercises."
Mr White said that even general web search engines ranked results from repositories far higher than personal pages. For example, a Google search for "red grouse research" puts Stirling's repository at the top of some 693,000 links.
It is estimated that 15 universities, or university departments, have introduced mandatory open-access repositories for staff. This year, Harvard University faculty of arts and sciences agreed to such a policy, becoming the first in the US to do so. Every article by any faculty member will be deposited unless he or she opts out.
STORRE can be searched at STORRE