UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Open Practices for Open Repositories

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Oct 2012


Open Access Week, which took place last week, was a busy period for me. Not only did I give talks on how social media can enhance access to research papers hosted in institutional repositories at the universities of Exeter, Salford and Bath, I also wrote accompanying posts which were published on the Networked Researcher and JISC blogs. But perhaps more importantly last week I coordinated the publication of three guest posts on this blog: SEO Analysis of WRAP, the Warwick University RepositorySEO Analysis of LSE Research Online and SEO Analysis of Enlighten, the University of Glasgow Institutional Repository.

Sharing of Repository Practices and Experiences

The background to this work were the two papers I co-authored for the Open Repositories OR 2012 conference. In the paper on “Open Metrics for Open Repositories” (available in PDF and MS Word formats) myself, Nick Sheppard, Jenny Delasalle, Mark Dewey, Owen Stephens,Gareth Johnson and Stephanie Taylor conclude with a call for repository managers, developers and policy makers to be pro-active in providing open access to metrics for open repositories. In the paper which asked “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?“, also available in PDF and MS Word formats, Jenny Delasalle and myself described how popular social media services which are widely use by researchers can have a role to play in  enhancing the visibility of papers hosted in repositories. However although LinkedIn and appeared to be widely used we  concluded by described how “further work is planned to investigate whether such links are responsible for enhancing SEO rankings of resources hosted in institutional repositories“.

This work began with a post which described the findings of a MajesticSEO Analysis of Russell Group University Repositories. This post made use of the MajesticSEO service which can report on SEO ranking factors for Web sites. The survey provided initial findings of a survey of institutional repositories hosted by the 24 Russell Group universities.

This initial post was intended to explore the capabilities of the tool and gauge the level of interest in further work.  In response to the post the question was asked “Are [the findings] correlated with amount of content, amount of full-text (or other non-metadata-only) content, breadth or depth of subject matter, what?” These were valid questions and were addressed in the more detailed follow-up surveys, which were provided by repository managers at the universities of Warwick, Glasgow and LSE who have the contextual knowledge needed to provide answers to such questions.

In this initial series of guest blog posts, William Nixon concluded with the remarks:

This has been an interesting, challenging and thought-provoking exercise with the opportunity to look at the results and experiences of Warwick and the LSE who, like us reflect the use of Google Analytics to provide measures of traffic and usage.

The overall results from this work provide some interesting counterpoints and data to the results which we get from both Google Analytics and IRStats. These will need further analysis as we explore how Majestic SEO could be part of the repository altmetrics toolbox and how we can leverage its data to enhance access our research.

I feel the exercise has been valuable for the three contributors. But I also feel that the descriptions of the experiences in using the MajesticSEO tool, the findings and the interpretation of the findings in an open fashion will be of valuable to the wider repository community, who may also have an interest in gaining a better understanding of the ways in which repository resources are found by users of popular search engines, such as Google.  There will also be a need to have a better understanding of the tools used to carry out such analyses. How, for example, will SEO analysis tools address link farms and other ‘black hat’ SEO techniques which may provide significant volumes of links to resources which may, in reality, be ignored by Google?

William Nixon’s post concluded by pointing out the need for:

further analysis as we explore how Majestic SEO could be part of the repository altmetrics toolbox and how we can leverage its data to enhance access our research.

I suspect the University of Glasgow will not be alone in wishing to explore the potential of SEO analysis tools which can help in understanding current patterns of traffic to repositories and in shaping practices to enhance such traffic. I hope the work which has been described by Yvonne Budeden, Natalia Madjarevic and William Nixon has been useful to the repository community in summarising their initial experiences.

I should also add that Jenny Delasaale and I are giving a talk at the ILI 2012 conference which will ask “What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories?” We are currently finalising the slides for the talk, which are available on Slideshare and embedded below. There is still an opportunity for us to update the slides, which might include a summary of plans for future work in this area. So we would very much welcome your feedback and suggestions. Perhaps you might be willing to publish a guest post on this blog which builds on last week’s posts?

5 Responses to “Open Practices for Open Repositories”

  1. huwjarvis said

    Thanks for your interesting and informative talk at Salford Brian (I was the participant who asked the question about Facebook). To get round some of the problems with restricted access to research in my own disciple area of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) \ Applied Linguistics I set up it falls short of full access, but visitors get a lot more than “just” the abstract, and for many people across the globe it is the only access that they have to research papers. It’s also nice to see the faces behind the research papers!

  2. stevanharnad said


    We have now tested the Finch Committee’s Hypothesis that Green Open Access Mandates are ineffective in generating deposits in institutional repositories. With data from ROARMAP on institutional Green OA mandates and data from ROAR on institutional repositories, we show that deposit number and rate is significantly correlated with mandate strength (classified as 1-12): The stronger the mandate, the more the deposits. The strongest mandates generate deposit rates of 70%+ within 2 years of adoption, compared to the un-mandated deposit rate of 20%. The effect is already detectable at the national level, where the UK, which has the largest proportion of Green OA mandates, has a national OA rate of 35%, compared to the global baseline of 25%. The conclusion is that, contrary to the Finch Hypothesis, Green Open Access Mandates do have a major effect, and the stronger the mandate, the stronger the effect (the Liege ID/OA mandate, linked to research performance evaluation, being the strongest mandate model). RCUK (as well as all universities, research institutions and research funders worldwide) would be well advised to adopt the strongest Green OA mandates and to integrate institutional and funder mandates.

    Gargouri Y, Lariviere V, Gingras Y, Brody T, Carr L & Harnad S (2012) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness Open Access Week 2012

  3. […] BackgroundOpen Access Week, which took place last week, was a busy period for me.  […]

  4. […] Open Access Week a series of guest blog posts were published on this blog in which three repository managers shared their findings of SEO […]

  5. […] follow-up work was carried out during autumn 2012 and the findings published in a series of guest blog posts during Open Access Week 2012. The paper which summarised this work and the findings was accepted by the programme committee for […]

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