This programme brings together people and practices from across various domains to ensure the maximum degree of coordination in the development of digital repositories, in terms of their technical and social (including business) aspects.

Digital Repositories programme 2005-7

This webpage has been archived. Its content will not be updated.

 The Digital Repositories programme ended in 2007. Work continues under the Repositories and Preservation programme and the Digital Repositories programme 2007-8.

The aim of the Digital Repositories programme is to bring together people and practices from across various domains (research, learning, information services, institutional policy, management and administration, records management, and so on) to ensure the maximum degree of coordination in the development of digital repositories, in terms of their technical and social (including business) aspects.

ReportFinal report UKOLN undertook a small-scale consultancy for JISC to investigate the relationships between data centres and institutions which may develop data repositories

New report published on the use of Web2.0 services to share e-Learning content



major conference in June 2007 has enabled those working in universities and colleges to learn what has gone on during the programme. The event showcased a range of research and development work in this area, and demonstrated how it can be practically applied by those working within institutions. It  put this work in the context of a vision for a UK repository network, whereby managing and sharing resources is straightforward and effective, and put UK work in a global perspective.

Repositories communities and groups

Those working in the repositories area have a number of ways to keep in touch with developments. There are email discussion lists, including jisc-repositories (for general, cross domain issues), and cetis-metadata (for elearning repositories and metadata issues). There is also the wiki maintained by the Repositories Research Team (see below).

The Digital Repositories Programme falls within the remit of the JISC integrated information environment committee. It is advised by the Repositories and Preservation Advisory Group. Technical guidance on repository interfaces is offered by the Common Repository Interfaces Group.

Repositories research team

As part of the Digital Repositories programme, we have established the repositories research team. The team's remit is quite wide and includes:

  • helping projects find and exploit synergies across the programme and beyond
  • gathering scenarios and use cases from projects
  • liaising with other national and international repositories activities, including liaison with the e-Framework
  • synthesizing project and programme outcomes
  • engaging with interoperability standards activity and repository architectures
See the team's wiki - DigiRep

The wiki is a home for 'work in progress', to share information about the programme and projects as it becomes available, in a relatively informal way. It includes pages relating to programme clusters and themes, events, scenarios and use cases relating to repositories, and FAQs that collate (among other things) responses to queries posted on the jisc-repositories list. It is also home to the Common Repository Interfaces Group.

Recent work by the repositories research team:

  • New application profile or metadata set to describe research papers; this is more detailed than the simple Dublin Core that many repositories use, and should enable more useful services to be built over repositories content
  • Deposit API, which is an agreed technical description of the transaction that happens when an item is deposited in a repository; agreeing this definition could pave the way for a much improved and better supported experience for those depositing material into repositories

Digital repositories projects

  • Community EPrints ( This is free software that creates online archives. It is being developed primarilly at Southampton University. Current development work aims to put EPrints on a sustainable footing, by moving key support infrastructure for EPrints into the user community. This means progressively devolving and sharing responsibility for management, code development, user support and marketing.
  • IRS: Interoperable Repository Statistics will investigate the requirements of UK and international stakeholders for effective research statistics services, and build generic collection and distribution software for all institutional repositories.
  • MIDESS: Management of Images in a Distributed Environment with Shared Services will explore the management of digitised content (especially images) in an institutional and cross-institutional context through the development of a digital repository infrastructure.
  • PERX: Pilot Engineering Repository Xsearch will develop a pilot service which provides subject resource discovery across a series of repositories of interest to the engineering learning and research communities.
  • RepoMMan: Repository Metadata & Management will assist the development of repository infrastructure in several key areas by: assessing the feasibility of automated population of object metadata, conducting detailed user requirements analysis and review of associated digital rights management issues, adapting and providing a human interface to a generic workflow framework.
  • SHERPA Plus is a major initiative to support repository development in all UK Higher Education institutions, building on the work of the SHERPA project, and will produce: advocacy strategies and resources for the establishment of new, and further population of existing, repositories; support for policy development, and reviews and analysis of extending repository holdings with datasets, multimedia, grey literature, learning objects and other content types.
  • User Needs and Potential Users of Public Repositories: An Integrated Analysis will evaluate five different types of public repositories in the UK, i.e. repositories that are intended for use by people outside a hosting institution.
Research papers
  • Institutional Repositories and Research Assessment This project is investigating and developing institutional repository infrastructure for EPrints and DSpace to enable Research Assessment, specifically for the UK Research Assessment Exercise 2008.
  • IRIScotland: Institutional Repository Infrastructure for Scotland will provide the organisational and technological framework for a Scotland-wide institutional repository infrastructure for research.
  • openDOAR project co-supported by the Open Society Institute, SPARC Europe, and CURL, is a Directory of Open Access Repositories. It will categorise and list the wide variety of Open Access research archives that have grown up around the world.
  • VERSIONS: Versions of Eprints User Requirements Study and Investigation Of the Need for Standards - by reference to user needs and practices, will clarify researchers' requirements for deposit, storage and accessibility of different versions in the lifecycle of a digital resource.
Research data
  • CLADDIER: Citation, Location, And Deposition in Discipline and Institutional Repositories will build and deploy a demonstration system linking publications held in two institutional repositories (Southampton University and the CCLRC) with data holdings in the British Atmospheric Data Centre.
  • Grade: Scoping a Geospatial Repository for Academic Deposit and Extraction will investigate and report on the technical and cultural issues around the reuse of geospatial data within the JISC Information Environment in the context of media-centric, informal and institutional repositories.
  • R4L: Repository for the Laboratory will develop prototype services and tools to address the issues of working with, disseminating and reporting on experimental data. In collaboration with scientific equipment manufacturers the project will develop methods to make raw experimental data available and richly annotated with metadata, as it is generated in the laboratory.
  • SPECTRa: Submission, Preservation and Exposure of Chemistry Teaching and Research Data will address the provision of Open Access to primary research data in experimental chemistry through the use of institutional repositories.
  • StORe: Source-to-Output Repositories will address the area of interactions between output repositories of research publications and source repositories of primary research data.
  • Dealing with data: UKOLN was asked to undertake a small-scale consultancy for the JISC to investigate the relationships between data centres and institutions which may develop data repositories. The resulting direction-setting report will be used to advance the digital repository development agenda within the JISC Capital Programme (2006 – 2009), to assist in the co-ordination of research data repositories and to inform an emerging Vision and Roadmap.  The study includes a synthesis of some of the lessons learned from the projects within the Digital Repositories Programme that were concerned with research data.  See the final report
  • ASK: Accessing and Storing Knowledge will develop a suite of open source software artefacts that support learners, researchers and teachers in securely accessing and sharing learning objects.
  • Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories will identify and analyse the factors that influence practical uptake and implementation of learning object repositories, with a focus on social and cultural issues.
  • PROWE: Personal Repositories Online: WIKI Environment will provide an innovative informal environment to support collaboration and learning amongst part-time, remote tutors on distance education programmes, and will build on and be evaluated alongside the asset repositories and digital library collections which are already available.
  • Rights and Rewards in Blended Institutional Repositories will focus on the support issues, rights protection and rewards necessary to motivate teaching academics to use repositories and will blend the results with those required by research academics.
  • SPIRE: Secure Personal Institutional and Inter-Institutional Repository Environment will focus on the setup and working through of the feasibility of peer-2-peer (P2P) technologies to aid the design of learning in the UK.
  • Trust DR Project will explore in detail the emergent issues relating to the use of digital repositories within the UK HE/FE sectors, with particular reference to business processes and digital rights, from multiple stakeholder perspectives.
  • UK collaboration for a digital repository to support sharing high quality, high-stakes assessment items will develop, evaluate and document a practical approach, building on existing tools and good practice, to implement a UK-wide infrastructure for collaborating to develop and share high quality, high-stakes assessment items involving a range of agencies and institutions in the UK.
  • Retention of learning materials: this is a small-scale survey of HE and FE institutions, which will identify the planning and policies that are in place to retain (preserve) learning materials, and will spotlight good practice.
  • Assessment item banks.  this small piece of work with the JISC-CETIS Assessment and Metadata & Digital Repsoitories SIGs resulted in two papers: one to describe technical aspects of item bank repositories, the other to describe the requirements from the organizational / user's point of view. JISC-CETIS also wrote a short briefing paper on the topic. 
  • Sharing e-learning content: a synthesis of existing information  The aim of the study is to summarise the findings from a range of JISC projects in the Digital Repositories Programme and beyond, with respect to organisational, legal, cultural, technical and pedagogic issues issues that are relevant to the development, use and sharing of e-learning content.
Supporting and synthesis studies

Further work within this programme will be undertaken through a range of projects and studies.

Relevant publications

Related work

This programme builds upon the outputs and achievements of a number of key JISC programmes:

Of special relevance also are:

History and JISC context

Many of the activities starting in 2005 within the Digital Repositories programme were addressed by a closed call for proposals, which was informed by a Digital Repositories review. The Digital Repositories programme is within the Information Environment theme of JISC work, and is also part of the Distributed e-Learning programme. A town meeting took place to discuss the closed 2005 call for proposals on Digital Repositories, on Wednesday 2 March 2005, at One Great George Street, London. Here are the presentations and notes from the question and answer session:


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  • DrNeil Jacobs, Programme Director, Digital Infrastructure

    Telephone: +44 (0) 117 331 0778

    Mobile: +44 (0) 7841 951 303


    Fax: +44 (0) 117 331 0667

Documents & Multimedia

Start date
1 January 2005
End date
30 November 2007
Working Groups
Strategic Themes