OR2012 – Edinburgh

Although the subject of repositories is of absolute relevance to my role (institutional research data management practices) at the University of Leeds, as a relative beginner to the world of repositories, I was initially unsure whether the theme and therefore content of the Seventh International Conference on Open Repositories (OR2012), ‘Open Services for Open Content: Local In for Global Out‘, held 9-13 July, 2012 and organised by the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services (host) and the Digital Curation Centre, would prove just a little too technically advanced for me?

Spurred on by my needs and that of RoaDMaP ie to gain a better understanding of repositories and the developments in this field, I felt the conference aim ie to ‘reflect the current move towards open content, ‘augmented content’, distributed systems and data delivery infrastructures of repositories’, as well as the additional detail provided in the conference programme should… provide a route into this subject matter? I therefore booked and attended OR2012 for the first three days (9-11th July).

Over three days I attended workshops, presentations and plenaries on:

Repository Basics – Getting Started With Islandora


DCC: Workshop: Institutional Repositories & Data – Roles and Responsibilities


COAR Repository Interoperability Roadmap


Moving from a scientific data collection system to an open data repository




Postgraduate Research Data: a New Type of Challenge for Repositories?
Big Data Challenges in Repository Development
Towards a Scalable Long-term Preservation Repository for Scientific Research Datasets
DTC Archive: using data repositories to fight against diffuse pollution
Built to Scale? http://bit.ly/Lrt89D


Inter-repository Linking of Research Objects with Webtracks
ResourceSync: Web-based Resource Synchronization

At the end of Day 3, my repository cup was full and OR2012 did not disappoint!! In fact its content and usefulness far exceeded my attendance objectives… to better understand repositories and developments in this field.  From the registration documentation to the content, information, questions and answers that featured at the workshops, presentations and plenaries, the conference (for me) provided an excellent and practical, value for money, introductory delve into the nuts and bolts of repositories – such was the sheer scope, range of expertise, knowledge, and information on hand.  I was also delighted to find out that the ‘live’ issue of ‘repositories within the context of institutional research data management’ was a key focus for many attendees and the subject of many discussions.

The points below are a very condensed version of some of my key conference takeaways around institutional research data management and repositories and the emerging landscape ahead:

  • The increasingly growing profile of the Research Data Management agenda. The closing address of the speaker, Peter Burnhill, Director of EDINA and Head of the Edinburgh University Data Library – key points from his closing speech:  “………….Happily we see Data, open, repositories and challenge are all prominent here……Data is the big arrival. Data is now mainstream….. If we look back on previous events we’ve heard about services around repositories… we got a bit obsessed with research articles, in the UK because of the REF, but data is important and great to see it being prominent. …….” http://or2012.ed.ac.uk/2012/07/12/closing-session-by-peter-burnhill/
  • Not to dismiss out of the box/alternative solutions to developing institutional repository solutions as part of a research data management infrastructure. There can be advantages to solutions which provide greater flexibility eg outsourcing? The rationale – the newness of RDM agenda, the absence of scope in terms of worked-through solutions and options for RDM resourcing may see the resourcing agenda develop in areas that may not have been originally envisaged thus avoiding wasted resources. DCC: Workshop: Institutional Repositories & Data – Roles and Responsibilities. http://bit.ly/Ph6aHd
  • A good starting mantra when considering the need for an institutional RDM infrastructure is to look at what existing systems can be ‘adopted and adapted’ prior to new solutions being ‘developed’
  • The popularity of Fedora, Dspace & Drupal as building blocks to effective repository solutions.
  • & finally – do not dismiss ‘good enough’ practice in the pursuit of ‘best practice’!