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Rebecca Sutton Koeser

Lead Developer, The Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University

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Clifford Lynch gave the closing plenary at Open Repositories 2011, and he talked about where we are now with repositories, about a decade in.

Lynch said that Institional Repositories are growing in tandem with the Open Access conversations, and both of them raise questions - for example, what are the roles and responsibilities of the institution to curate reasearch data and scholarly work? He warned about the danger of confusing mechanism with policy: some people create IRs with no plan for content or policy; and he raised the question whether Institutional Repositories are always the right answer– when are discipline-specific or cross-institutional repositories a better fit? In particular, Lynch emphasized that repositories can act as a focal point for policy conversations - but also for collaboration. He syas that repositories have changed the landscape in real ways.

Then, Lynch transitioned to the “open questions” part of his talk, touching on the following:

  • bizarre practices with name authority
  • what’s the difference between an IR and a digital libraries collection? (common platforms are used for both; I think someone responded on twitter that the difference is who does the curation)
  • what is or should be the relationship between IR and learning management systems? He commented that it us unusual now to have export, archive, or communication between such systems; he mentioned in particular capturing lectures.
  • Where does the IR sit or belong in the process of research? At what point should something go in? Does it make sense to think about the repository as a workspace? What about large datasets, or data that is too large to back up or transmit?
  • A lot of scholarship is now tied up in complex software; in many cases, the data is impossible to understand or reuse without the software; research results are dependend on complicated software - which raises interesting questions with regard to versions of the software, provenance, etc. (talk about embedded assumptions in your research!). Orphan software is only going to increase; how do we preserve it?
  • What about retiring faculty? How do we migrate their collected research data into the IR?