I love Institutional Repositories and I’m a big Open Access supporter. I used to work as part of an Institutional Repository team and really appreciate the vital role they play in increasing access to academic publications for all.
But, my husband recently pointed out that ‘Institutional Repository’ is an awful name and the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that he is right. It’s not exactly catchy is it? In-sti-tu-tion-al re-po-si-to-ry. That’s ten whole syllables! Ten! Quite a mouthful.
Some people shorten it to ‘IR’ but unfortunately that’s already a fairly overused acronym. And ‘Institutional Repository’ would have to take its place in the queue behind a number of more established claimants. On Wikipedia, 46 possible meanings for ‘IR’ are given and in the Computing section alone ‘Information Retrieval’ definitely takes precedence over ‘Institutional Repository’.
To me, this sterile term doesn’t really capture the essence of these vast vaults of scholarly knowledge either. It doesn’t provide any description of the types of publications contained or its vital role in the promotion of Open Access.
Possibly as a result of this tongue-tangling and uninteresting term, a number of alternative terms have come into use. In Scotland alone, University ‘Institutional Repositories’ are currently also described as ‘Digital Repositories’, ‘Research Archives’, ‘Open Access Repositories’ and even ‘Open Access Institutional Repositories’ (covering all the bases there).
Many individual institutions have also successfully branded their own repositories with catchy and inspiring names like Enlighten (University of Glasgow), AURA (University of Aberdeen). This clever marketing has worked well in increasing awareness of Institutional Repositories amongst academic staff in their home institutions and has helped to drive deposit policies.
But (outside of the Open Access community) I would doubt that recognition of these individual names would extend far beyond the institutions in question. So I wonder whether one unified, recognisable and catchy term would be better. Personally, I like Open Access Repository. It only saves one syllable in the pronunciation stakes but it more effectively conveys the essence of repositories. And the acronym forms an actual word, ‘OAR’. Bonus.
Maybe it’s not too late to rebrand. Open Access is still an evolving discipline. Could the Open Access community get together and agree on a better name? Finally put the dull term ‘Institutional Repository’ to rest? Just a thought…
What does everyone else think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment!
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