eScholarship Repository Case Study

Organizational Context and Mission

The California Digital Library, which partners with the 10 University of California campuses in a continuing commitment to apply innovative technology to managing scholarly information, opened to the public in January 1999. Organizationally housed at the UC Office of the President in Oakland, the CDL provides a centralized framework to efficiently share materials held by UC, to provide greater and easier access to digital content, and to join with researchers in developing new tools and innovations for scholarly communication.

CDL's eScholarship® Publishing Program provides low-cost, alternative publication services for the University of California community, supports widespread distribution of the materials that result from research and teaching at UC, and fosters new models of scholarly publishing through development and application of advanced technologies. CDL's Publishing Suite, which includes XML-based publication of nearly 2,000 scholarly monographs and the recently released Mark Twain Project Online, is perhaps most broadly represented by the eScholarship Repository.

The eScholarship Repository is an open-access PDF-based publishing platform that offers UC departments, centers, and research units direct control over the creation and dissemination of the full range of their scholarship, including pre-publication materials, journals and peer-reviewed series, conference proceedings, seminar papers and post-prints. Contributors to the repository enjoy the benefits of a workflow system that supports manuscript management, peer review, seminar/conference support and more. Increasingly, contributors regard the repository as a place for creating thematic collections of discipline-specific scholarly materials.

Current Contents

The eScholarship Repository currently (as of February 29, 2008) holds a little over 20,000 voluntarily submitted publications. Some data on these materials:

  • 200 scholarly units (departments, multi-campus research units, etc.) across UC campuses and associated laboratories participating in voluntary submission
  • 400 papers submitted per month on average

Each submission should describe a repository from multiple perspectives, including some of the following:

  • 13 peer reviewed journals and 5 monographic series published within the repository
  • over 2,500 post-prints submitted by individuals unaffiliated with established repository units
  • 25% of the content comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Current Download Activity

  • 5.7 million full-text downloads to date (since inception in 2002)
  • 40,000 downloads per week on average
  • 95% of download traffic from outside UC IPs
  • 80% of download traffic referred by Google
  • Top referring locations, after US: UK, Canada, India, Mexico, Germany

Faculty Engagement/Measures of Success

UC faculty publish nearly 26,000 research articles each year. Clearly, as our repository numbers - though respectable - reveal, we have not begun to scratch the surface of providing services for that volume of scholarly production. In an effort to understand the barriers to use among UC faculty, the eScholarship Publishing Group, in conjunction with the Office of Scholarly Communication, circulated a survey last year among faculty across the UC campuses. Most specifically aimed at establishing the faculty's level of interest in or concern about issues of copyright, the survey also asked some pointed questions about the eScholarship Repository in order to gauge the perception of its use-value among our local constituents. What we learned from this survey is something profoundly obvious, yet immensely valuable nonetheless. Our survey revealed to us that those familiar with the repository feel it offers a high standard of service and is an important resource for UC scholars. The catch: virtually no one is familiar with it.

That is not to say that none of our survey respondents had used the repository - but rather, that a small proportion of faculty had used it and, among those faculty, the words "eScholarship Repository" were not necessary a label that helped them identify what they had used. In other words, very few of our faculty had heard of the eScholarship Repository or, if they had, they lacked a clear understanding of the services associated with the label.

We learned something else from the survey as well. Copyright retention and open access publishing do not serve as significant motivating forces in UC faculty publishing practices. Though faculty are eager to have their research disseminated broadly, that eagerness does not translate into taking up the mantle of open access publishing advocacy. Rather, they seem primarily motivated in their publishing choices by efforts to ensure their individual advancement within structures of tenure and promotion.

Catherine Mitchell, Ph.D.
Acting Director, eScholarship Publishing Group
California Digital Library