Unlocking the Potential of Institutional Repositories: A Comprehensive Guide

During the month of September, Washington University School of Medicine scholarly works were downloaded more than 30,000 times across multiple countries from Digital Commons@Becker. Digital Commons@Becker is the institutional repository for Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), hosting the scholarly work created here at WUSM to enhance both the research outputs’ visibility and access.

Digital Commons@Becker

Digital Commons@Becker was introduced back in 2010 and since that time has shared our institution’s works globally with more than 3,000,000 downloads to date. We wanted to take a moment to reintroduce not only our repository but also explore the use and benefits of institutional repositories and how they serve as invaluable resources for the academic and research community.

Institutional repositories (IRs) have become essential tools for educational institutions, research organizations, and libraries worldwide. They play a crucial role in preserving, showcasing, and disseminating scholarly work.

What is an Institutional Repository?

An institutional repository is a digital platform for hosting an organization’s scholarly output, including research papers, theses, dissertations, preprints, data sets, conference proceedings, and more. It provides a central location for storing, organizing, and sharing these materials with the public, contributing to open access initiatives. Digital Commons@Becker has collections that include archival materials, theses and dissertations, open access publications, data sets, videos, departmental presentations and publications and more.

Advantages of Institutional Repositories

Increased Visibility and Accessibility; Compliance with Open Access Mandates

One of the primary benefits of IRs is the increased visibility and accessibility of academic and research work. By making content freely available online, scholars and researchers can reach a wider audience, which can lead to more citations and impact.

Many funding agencies and governments require that publicly funded research be made openly accessible. IRs help institutions comply with these mandates by providing a central location to share research outputs with the public.

Open Access Publications Collections

Digital Commons@Becker hosts close to 20,000 scholarly works. The largest and most accessed collection is our Open Access Publications with almost 14,000 works and over 1,600,000 downloads. Becker Library staff regularly upload and share open access research publications from our faculty to support Washington University’s open access resolution. Our repository includes digital, live readership maps by collection, and an example of the open access collection map can be seen in the image on the left.

Showcasing Institutional Research

IRs serve as a platform to showcase an institution’s research excellence. They help promote the institution’s academic and research achievements, which can be especially valuable for attracting prospective students and faculty members.

Who Benefits from Institutional Repositories?

Researchers, students, institutions and even the general public all benefit. Researchers can share their work with a global audience, increasing their impact and visibility in their fields. Institutions benefit by showcasing their research output, attracting talent, and complying with open access mandates, thereby contributing to the global research community. IRs democratize access to knowledge, allowing the general public to benefit from the institution’s research and educational resources.

Institutional repositories are powerful tools that support the open access movement, facilitate knowledge dissemination, and promote research excellence. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, IRs will remain integral to preserving and sharing the knowledge and innovations of our time.

If you have not visited Digital Commons@Becker, please do so. I would love to help you showcase and share your scholarly work at WUSM through Digital Commons@Becker.

Readings & Reference

Asadi S, Abdullah R, Yah Y, Nazir S. Understanding Institutional Repository in Higher Learning Institutions: A Systematic Literature Review and Directions for Future Research. IEEE Access. 2019;7:35242-35263. doi:10.1109/access.2019.2897729 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8635464

Santos-Hermosa G. The Role of Institutional Repositories in Higher Education: Purpose and Level of Openness. In: Otto D, Scharnberg G, Kerres M, Zawacki-Richter O, editors. Distributed Learning Ecosystems: Concepts, Resources, and Repositories. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden; 2023. 47-70. https://rdcu.be/dovZE

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (September 25 version) [Large Language Model]. https://chat.openai.com/c/11db0330-1231-4d79-aa8a-04c6cabb3ae8