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Scholarly Communication: Understanding Repositories

This guide defines Scholarly Communication, and its role in raising visibility of Researcher output and web presence. Scholarly Communication is defined as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality,

Understanding Repositories: Important Definitions

  • Creative Commons refers to the OA license used by authors to stipulate copyright and use of research publications
  • A Digital copy is the electronic copy of the publication in its final stage (either the author’s final manuscript after peer review or the publisher’s version).
  • An Embargo is the period during which a publication can be ‘closed’ while deposited in the  repository (i.e. the publication is not openly available).
  • An Institutional Open Access Repository, is established according to international standards, containing digital content from various disciplines and providing advanced tools for search, navigation and Open Access to its digital collections
  • Metadata are the descriptors used for describing, tracing, use and management of the deposited item (indicatively: title of publication, author(s), institutional affiliation, name of journal where the publication has been accepted).
  • Pre-prints refer to the unpublished draft of research intended for publishing in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Post-prints refer to the final print of research articles after peer-review.
  • A Publication is defined as the peer-reviewed published (or under publication) work of researchers based in the institution (indicatively this comprises articles, monographs, book chapters, reports, conference presentations).
  • A Repository is one that provides Open Access to scientific results, enables citation through permanent identifiers (DOI or other) and provides qualitative metadata (including acknowledgment of research funding) based on accepted guidelines and standards.
  • A Researcher is any member of the research/academic/support staff of Rhodes University irrespective of their employment status.
  • Research Data is the data (such as statistics, results of experiments, measurements, observations, interview recordings, images, etc.) used to validate the results presented in scientific publications.
  • Self-Archiving refers to the deposit of digital documents on the designated institutional platform by the individual.

(Taken from the RU Open Access Policy document)

Repositories for Open Access Research

Digital repositories function as "storehouses" of publications organized around an institution or discipline.

For example, Rhodes Digital Commons hosts scholarly and creative works, research, publications, and reports contributed by faculty, students, staff, and administrative units of Rhodes University while hosts papers (mainly) in the physical sciences. Content in repositories often includes peer-reviewed content (publisher's version or post-prints) as well as pre-prints, the version of an article before it under went peer review.

Please Note: Rhodes University requires its researchers to deposit in the Rhodes Digital Commons, a digital copy of the full text, as well as the related metadata of all publications (author final manuscript of publisher version) upon acceptance for publication. See the Rhodes Open Access Policy for more information.


Why Contribute to a Repository?

  • Timely

The publication and peer review process can take months if not years. Sometimes research results will prompt important changes before publication occurs. Depositing a pre-print into a repository is one way to share important results without waiting for publication.

  • Complimentary

Green OA compliments Gold OA by providing authors a way to share their work with others, even if they publish in a journal that is not OA.*

  • Trustworthy & Stable

Repositories usually have stable sources of funding so works deposited into them remain accessible even if the authors are not. They are also often affiliated with well-known institutions such as universities or government agencies which makes them easy to find.

*There are still publishers who do not support any type of OA, Green or Gold.

Confederation of Open Access Repositories - COAR

COAR is an international association that brings together individual repositories and repository networks in order to build capacity, align policies and practices, and act as a global voice for the repository community.  COAR supports repositories today and positions them to play a key role in the future.

The COAR Repository Toolkit is now updated with new resources. We invite you to visit the Toolkit to access the best practices and educational resources including websites, guides, videos, infographics and others.