Universities should take responsibility for scholarly communication out of the hands of publishers by creating their own institutional repositories, writes Caroline Davis.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (Sparc) said institutional repositories were critical in the evolving structure of scholarly communication and a natural extension of an academic institution's role generating research.
It suggested repositories would widen access to research both within an institution and globally. They would also cut the cost of journal subscriptions. Changes in attitude to copyright by academics and journal publishers mean such archives would not prevent authors publishing the research later in conventional journals.
The first repository is the 11-year-old Los Alamos e-print archive. Herbert Van de Sompel, coordinator of digital library research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-founder of the Open Archives Initiative, said:
"A growing number of authors are already self-posting their work, and institutional repositories channel and refine this trend, building a stable, sustainable infrastructure to support global communication of research."
Nottingham University's Hallward library has been running a pilot repository for ten months. Stephen Pinfield, assistant director of information services, said proving that a self-archiving system can work alongside peer reviewed journals is key. "The real challenge associated with setting up institutional archives is persuading researchers to come on board. Most researchers are reluctant to move away from what they see as the tried-and-tested methods of publication."
The Joint Information Systems Committee has launched an initiative to create 14 UK repositories linking universities, libraries, galleries, museums and companies.
US-based Sparc was set up to combat the high costs of scientific journals by creating publishing partnerships with academics.