RepNet presentations at events have often been followed by questions. This Frequently Asked Questions section collects the ones that we have most often been asked. Suggestions for new FAQs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RepNet claims to be a socio-technical infrastructure - what does that mean?
A socio-technical infrastructure means that the repository services to be provided by the RepNet won't just be a technical service layer to be built on top of the existing repository network, but will also aim to engage with the repository manager community (plus additional
stakeholders) for assessing their perceived needs and collecting their feedback on how the planned repository services should more effectively be delivered to the community. In this regard, the RepNet is both a social and a technical initiative, hence socio-technical.
How will RepNet deliver services to repositories after the Finch Report said repositories are not the preferred way for managing institutional research outputs?
One of the main RepNet worklines has been to collect information on how repositories are seen and used in different institutions – what the RepNet calls the UK institutional repository landscape. As a result of this process for gathering institutional feedback, the RepNet has
found there are nearly as many use cases for repository concepts as institutions. The main use case identification carried out by the project has shown that although the Finch Report recommendations express a clear preference for a given way of using institutional repositories, this model is only being applied by a couple of HEIs at the moment. There may be a more general shift taking place towards such a model, but the present situation is a very fragmented one in which standalone institutional repositories aiming to at least partially deliver some CRIS functionalities coexist with mixed CRIS+IR system configurations and with a growing number of CRIS-only solutions, with research-intensive universities very often relying on a CRIS system for REF reporting purposes. While mainly focusing on repository service provision, the RepNet approach allows for some degree of service tailoring so that every HEI will be able to benefit from different services regardless of what its specific system configuration looks like. This model will usually require to carry out joint work with the commercial CRIS vendors.
What are RepNet 'Wave 1 components'? Are there any 'Wave 2' components?
The RepNet was conceived as a framework for integrating different repository services and exploiting the synergies among them to build new services on top of the existing ones. The different services grouped under the RepNet umbrella were called 'components', and two sets of them were identified: the existing ones, such as the Repository Junction Broker, IRUS-UK or RoMEO and JULIET, for which a transition from project to service mode would often need to be carried out, and the new ones that would be built on top of the existing services. These new services, such as the dashboard for monitoring mandate compliance or the RoMEO/JULIET API, were initially called 'Wave 2 components'. Following a project repurposing that took place at the end of 2012, the new repository services were renamed as 'new applications'.
How do these 'components' fit into the general RepNet service?
The repository services or 'components' are independent projects often run from centres away from EDINA which cover specific RepNet worklines (see the collection of RepNet work strands). The components have their own project teams (at Mimas and the University of Cranfield for IRUS-UK, at CRC Nottingham for RoMEO and JULIET and at EDINA for the RJ Broker and ORE) and are managed and funded independently from the RepNet, which provides a general service coordination and supports implementation for different services through its own stakeholder engagement activities.
Many UK HEIs rely nowadays on CRIS Systems and CERIF as a default means for managing their institutional research outputs - is RepNet accounting for this evolution?
RepNet is indeed keeping this evolution in mind, see answer to FAQ number 2. Although the RepNet is not directly involved itself in any REF reporting activities carried out at institutions, the project is very aware of the need to deliver services into different research information management system configurations. The requirement for interoperability among different metadata standards such as CERIF, qualified Dublin Core and/or METS has also been a RepNet concern since very early project times.
Is it possible to design, implement and deliver services for the whole repository network covering all differences in configuration and operation?
It is certainly not an easy task, and it will be extremely difficult to provide comprehensive services to the whole repository network, but it is possible to some extent, as long as it is kept in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for repository service provision. Leaving aside just for a minute the significant variations in institutional system configuration mentioned above, the sheer wealth of repository platforms and versions will require a very demanding customisation work in order to serve the needs of any institutional repository in the network. RepNet efforts in this regard have initiatlly focused on serving the most frequent platforms and configurations, i.e. EPrints 3 and Dspace 1.8, which cover a very significant piece of the repository network cake.
This sounds similar to OpenAIRE - are there links between both projects?
RepNet and OpenAIRE are indeed quite similar projects operating on different geographical domains. Since both projects are dealing with providing a service layer on top of an existing repository infrastructure, it's no surprise that there are several overlapping areas between them (eg repository usage and metadata enhancement to mention but a couple) and good opportunties for synergies and joint work as a result. Tight links among the RepNet and OpenAIRE were established as early as July 2012 at the OR2012 conference held in Edinburgh, where joint meetings and discussions were held between both projects. The RepNet has regularly been attending OpenAIRE events and OpenAIRE compliance is one of the repository services the project aims to promote.
There is a lot of discussion these days on the UK Gold vs Green Open Access thread - where does RepNet fit into this controversy?
The RepNet project was originally conceived as an infrastruture to support the Green route to Open Access, i.e. institutional repositories and deposit of the author's final copy in them. However, under a swiftly evolving landscape that has had a significant impact upon the project's goals, the RepNet is nowadays 'flavour-agnostic' with regard to Open Access. This means the project will support services that aim to increase the aggregate contents that UK HEIs offer in an Open Access fashion, regardless of whether the mechanisms for offering such contents follow the Gold or the Green route. As a matter of fact, the RepNet has gathered certain feeling from the repository manager community that the 'Gold vs Green' discussion may be a vain one if taken too far - since it does turn much-needed intellectual activity away from the main goal of making as much content available Open Access as possible.
What kind of new services does RepNet aim to offer the repository network?
The new repository services the RepNet aims to provide rely on the data-driven-infrastructure concept. This means that institutions have lots of data available on concurrent research information management processes, and that new services could arise by putting together a general perspective of such processes and carrying out a gap analysis exercise. As a result of this, an opportunity has been for instance identified for offering a service –the RepNet Dashboard– that will enable repositories to assess the level of compliance of funders' Open Access mandates at article level. Other new services deal with the monitorisation of repository content growth once mechanisms for automated content ingest such as the RJ Broker start operating.
Is RepNet working together with official repository service providers such as EPrints or DuraSpace?
'Working together' is a slightly ambiguous expression. The RepNet does indeed have contacts with the developer communities for both EPrints and DSpace as the main repository platforms in the UK and worldwide, but the repository services provided by the RepNet are essentially
platform-agnostic, and even system-agnostic in the sense that the RepNet does often keep in mind the possibility of directly providing certain services into CRIS systems. This means that although specific support may occasionally be requested from the DSpace and EPrints developer community for a given service implementation process, RepNet service design and development is carried out independently from any specific community.
What is ITIL and how does it support the RepNet processes for repository service provision?
ITIL stands for IT Infrastructure Library. ITIL is a well-established framework for service management the RepNet Project has used in turning repository-related projects into services under a general coordination. ITIL application to the RepNet has resulted in a workflow for service candidate identification, service design, incubation, development, testing and release under a continuous enhancement scheme. Previously existing repository projects –the RepNet 'Wave 1' components– have joined the ITIL workflow at different stages depending on their degree of progress towards service release and have been transitioned into operational services, whereas new services join the ITIL framework as service concepts to be validated and further evolved.
How does the RepNet transition projects into services? Is it possible that a project will fail to be transitioned into a service?
As explained above, the ITIL framework includes different stages the repository projects go through along their way to becoming operational services. According to the ITIL methodology, a given project may indeed fail to be transitioned into a service if for instance major flaws in its code are discovered at the testing stage, in which case the project would then be returned to the development phase. ITIL also allows services to be retired when they are no longer fit for purpose.