Changing the culture

It is widely agreed that the technical implementation of a digital repository is the easy side of the equation and that the most significant challenge facing institutions is the need to promote and drive cultural change. Creating 'buy-in' to the concept of a digital repository amongst the academic community and encouraging researchers and teachers to submit their work for inclusion is further covered in the advocacy section of this web site. A key first step to successful culture change is to define the message and motivation for repository development at your particular institution. The motivations for setting up repositories varies depending on the community that is doing it, some of which include:

  • The Publications/Serials Crisis
  • Scholarly communication and sharing
  • Teaching and Learning, including re-use and re-purposing
  • Management of digital assets and preservation requirements

Changing the culture of an institution is not an overnight job, nor is it one that can be achieved without a significant application of resources. It is however key to the success of a repository that the academic community whom are its principal contributors understand why such a resource is needed, what the driving forces are and the crucial need for their involvement. Thorough planning for your repository will help define these elements.

Cultural change is classically commonly brought about through engagement with academics on one of three levels:

  • Intellectual (conceptual, logical, the greater good)
  • Emotional (hearts and minds, enlightened self-interest)
  • Political (necessitation, external drivers, compliance with policy)

Intellectually repository administrators can expound the professional virtues and benefits brought-about by the repository, persuading their academic community of the need for their engagement. Alternatively they can advocate the personal value to individuals of repository use, and seek to achieve engagement in this manner. Or finally they can drive the community through the introduction of mandated or strongly-recommended policies for the deposition of material, a process that may take some time to accomplish, uncover simmering issues of academic freedoms but ultimately prove an exceptionally successful approach to repository enlargement.

Find out more from the JISC Digital Repositories infoKit