Re: Eprints, Dspace, or Espace?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 15:51:37 +0100

On Tue, 19 Oct 2004, [identity deleted] wrote:

> Hello my name is [deleted], a student at [deleted] university. I am
> currently writing a final year project on a possible repository for
> [deleted] university library.
> As part of this report I need to compare and choose a suitable software for
> a repository. I have decided to discuss ARNO, CDSware, DSpace, Eprints, and
> Fedora.
> I am finding information on these and was wondering if you could help
> me. Could you briefly discuss each one in terms of suitability for a
> university? I already know I am going to choose Eprints but I need to
> explain why this software is most appropiate.

The answer is very simple: It doesn't matter! The only thing that matters
is that it should not be "ESpace" (Empty-Space); in other words, there
has to be a policy that ensures that the university archives are filled
with the intended content.

All the main OAI-compliant archive-creating softwares are functionally
equivalent, because after all, what they do is quite simple: They make
sure that all deposited papers have the same metadata tags, the obvious
ones: author-name, article-title, date, journal-name, etc., so that they
are interoperable as well as harvestable by OAI service providers:

Eprints was the first of the institutional archive-creating softwares,
written in 2000, initially by converting the already existing 1997
CogPrints Archive into an OAI-compliant one,
and then converting the OAI-compliant version into generic archiving
software, Eprints, which any university could then use to create and fill
its own OAI-compliant OA archives.

The original CogPrints software had been written in 1997, according to
my specs, modelled partly on the Physics ArXiv, by a Southampton ECS
doctoral student, Matt Hemus. It was then made OAI-compliant and generic
in 2000 by another ECS doctoral student here, Rob Tansley, again according
to my specs (and OAI's).

After GNU Eprints was made open-source and public, Rob Tansley was
"poached" by MIT and Hewlett Packard to write DSpace, according to
MIT/HP's specs. The result was of course something very much like
Eprints, but for a much more diffuse agenda: Eprints had been designed
specifically for the purpose of providing Open Access (OA) to all of an
institution's peer-reviewed journal article output. It could be used
for a lot else too, but that was not its primary objective: OA was.

With DSpace (and SPARC) grew the "institutional repository" movement, and
many more archive softwares, most of which have only loose ties with the
OA movement, and are really intended for the showcasing and management
of all of a university's digital holdings, not only, or especially,
research journal articles and OA. As a consequence, "institutional
repositories" (IRs) are (slowly) filling today with all kinds of material,
very little of it being OA articles! And IRs tend to be focused more on
the preservation and curation of university digital holdings than on
providing immediate OA to all university research output so as to maximise its
research impact, which is what OA is for.

Meanwhile, another Southampton doctoral student, Chris Gutteridge,
has taken over and has been updating and upgrading the GNU Eprints
software to keep up with developments in the OAI protocol as well
as OA since 2001.

So the difference among the available archiving softwares is clearly not
functionality but *focus.* Eprints has a very specific agenda, and that
agenda is only realized if the institution fills the archive with 100%
of its research article output.

Eprints has worked hard on providing OA policy guidance:
as well as OA impact measurement/evaluation tools:
resources for monitoring OA growth:
and evidence on the impact-enhancing effects of OA:

So, to repeat: it doesn't *matter* which of the archive-creating
softwares a university uses: What matters is adopting and implementing
a policy that will *fill* its archives, as soon and full as possible,
with the university's own journal article output.

    "Eprints, Dspace, or Espace?"

It looks as if that all-important policy will now come in the form of a
self-archiving mandate from research funders in the UK, US and elsewhere:

For comparative reviews of the available softwares, see:

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad
Moderator, American Scientist Open Access Forum

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Received on Tue Oct 19 2004 - 15:51:37 BST

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