How an institutional repository can add value and enable organisational knowledge to be shared.

Every year the information analyst in our Research & Development (R&D) department would spend weeks combing through PubMed, searching for Trust authored publications, assembling incredibly long and complicated search strings, comparing results against spreadsheets of names of Trust researchers… then assembling a publications report to attach as an appendix to the annual R&D report to the Trust board, or a spreadsheet of figures to send off to funding bodies. Reports which would then disappear into filing cabinets, or creaky hard drives, never to see the light of day again…

Until R&D and the Library worked together to launched the institutional repository!

The repository serves a dual purpose:

Firstly, the publications data is collected, checked and added to the repository on a regular basis (by library staff), saving the R&D department literally “weeks of time” (direct quote from a very happy information analyst).

Secondly, the publication details are made freely available online – showcasing all the research that takes place in the Trust.

This data was already being collected, but placing it in the institutional repository added value to it by making it:

  • Visible, searchable, discoverable
  • Organised – by division, specialty or department
  • Shareable – easy to Tweet about new articles, embed RSS feeds of new articles into subject resource hubs/intranet
  • Connected – linking research articles to research projects on the Trust’s research information systems
  • Open Access – including full-text versions of articles within publisher’s permissions, or linking to articles on publisher’s sites.
  • Promotable – ability to create researcher profile pages listing publications (good for CVs!)
  • Patient engaging – research participants can see what has been published in the studies they have been a part of

Institutional repositories don’t have to be limited to just published journal articles, they can also include other organisational assets such as patient information leaflets, Trust reports and publications, conference posters, innovations…the possibilities are endless! Your IR can either be internal or external facing depending on the content (your innovations may be protected by intellectual property for example).

You don’t necessary need fancy technology to put together an institutional repository – it can be something as simple as a spreadsheet or a blog – any tool or mechanism you can use to capture and organise knowledge. If you’re thinking about starting an institutional repository, see the Knowledge for Healthcare Institutional Repository Toolkit for ideas, tips & hints and case studies.

Organising and mobilising knowledge is what we information professionals do best and institutional repositories are a great opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships with other departments in our organisations (we’re certainly working closer with R&D now!) and to demonstrate our skills and value, so go for it!

Cate Newell
Reader Services Librarian and RD&E Research Repository Manager
Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

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