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The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and the Institutional Repository EPSILON Experience

SLU (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) has four faculties: the Faculty of Landscape Planning, Horticulture and Agricultural Science, the Faculty of Natural Resources and Agriculture Sciences, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science and the Faculty of Forest Sciences. A total of 3 200 people are employed at the University and 3 300 undergraduates and 800 postgraduate students are enrolled at SLU.

The Institutional Repository Epsilon

Yesterday

The library at SLU saw the advantages of electronic publishing early on.  Since 2003 all doctoral theses are published electronically and since 2007 it’s also mandatory to publish all undergraduate theses electronically.  At the end of 2006 the SLU Library started publishing other kinds of publications as well, for example articles, conference papers, book chapters and reports. The electronic publishing was managed by the library in the EPrints based platform Epsilon, which the library set up in the beginning of the 2000s. Various Open Access (OA) initiatives were of course a contributing factor to the development of electronic publishing at the library.

Today

Today 6300 full text documents are published within Epsilon, in the Epsilon Open Archive and the Epsilon Archive for Student Projects (the previous database Epsilon Undergraduate Thesis Archive closed for new deposits in Nov 2009 and is now a part of Epsilon Archive for Student Projects). Publications are the main output of a university and making these publications visible and accessible to all who are interested in or need information on the subjects covered by SLU is what has motivated the development of Epsilon.

Epsilon is increasingly being discovered as a useful tool for researchers, students and the university administration. Open Access publishing is made all the more important by the explicit goals of SLU to be a part of and interact with different research communities and the surrounding world. Many departments today are discovering the advantages of publishing new and older report series in Epsilon. It provides long term preservation and allows different paths of dissemination that have been established through the years within the Epsilon system. The latest developments are direct results of the interest for OA and electronic publishing that has come from SLU employees at different departments.

Experience has shown that support of these individual initiatives is beneficial when it comes to building knowledge and good examples for others at the university to follow. Seeking cooperations with researchers, departments and administrative staff is necessary to make sure that the archive is developed in a way that meets the wishes and demands of its users.

The work with Epsilon is integrated into the work the library puts into OA and today, when most Swedish research funders demand OA, it’s very important to provide support and inform the researchers about publishing strategies that meet the demands of the funders. At the SLU Library we have created a group that handles both the institutional repository and more general issues on OA. This group also belongs to a larger function called Scientific Communication & Evaluation since broader issues on scientific communication and metrics are affected by the establishment of different OA initiatives.

We are one of 14 partners involved in an EU financed project called VOA3R (Virtual Open Access Agriculture & Aquaculture Repository: Sharing Scientific and Scholarly Research related to Agriculture, Food, and Environment.) By taking part, alongside other universities, in the development of new tools for communication of research we hope to contribute to a wider dissemination of SLU’s output, and at the same time increase the knowledge within the library about scientific communication. It is important to take part of different kind of forums (e-mail lists, projects, and working groups) so that new knowledge and developments can be implemented in the infrastructure of the repository. A recent membership in COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) is one example of that ambition.

>Tomorrow – Challenges

We’ll continue to push the development of electronic publishing at SLU forward. Getting more researchers to see the benefits of Epsilon and developing the services in a way that satisfies the needs of our users are the main challenges that we are faced with. The communicative landscape in science is changing rapidly and the library has to make sure that technical and metadata developments can be of high quality and implemented quickly. That is a prerequisite for user’s trust in Epsilon.

Being able to access research data (data sets) of a publication is much talked about right now, for example among research funders. This is a challenge that we have begun working with at the library, in collaboration with the SLU archive department. Interesting future possibilities are opening up as more and more processes within research can be communicated and the SLU library (together with our different partners) will work to create a solid infrastructure for the everyday needs of the researcher and the communication with the surrounding world.

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