Institutional repositories help democratize access to older research | Nebraska today


Welcome to Pocket Science: An overview of recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “what”, “what then” and “what now” of Husker research.


Although the older scientific literature contains seminal theories, discoveries, and methodologies that have shaped the contemporary landscapes of many areas of research, this research often becomes less accessible as it ages.

Those few who can accessing it – whether by checking it out in a college library collection or buying it at a discount from publishers – are often able to do so due to their physical proximity to it. This can distort access to people living in relatively developed countries, creating and perpetuating a cycle of information inequity.

So what?

Sue Ann Gardner, Paul Royster, and Linnea Fredrickson help manage the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Digital Commons, a globally recognized online repository with more than 119,000 full-text entries downloaded over 74 million times since 2005 .

The trio decided to examine the potential value of republishing scientific literature in institutional repositories, using Digital Commons in Nebraska as a case study. To do this, the Husker team analyzed the number and location of downloads of four sets of research papers: Insecta Mundi, Nebraska Bird Review, Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, and University of Nebraska State research papers. Museum.

By the end of February 2021, the 3,859 entries in these four series had been downloaded over 1.25 million times, or approximately 325 times per item. About 31% of those downloads, spread across seven continents, came from countries designated as low and middle income by the World Bank.

Now what?

The results suggest that continuing to make older research literature freely available through online university and college repositories may help expand and democratize access to this research, the team said.

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