FAQ: Institutional Repositories and OpenBU
What is an institutional repository?
An institutional repository is a single, online place where a community (in this case, Boston University) gathers and preserves scholarly output produced by its members and makes these materials available to the world free of charge (copyright permitting). This output may include both publications in peer-reviewed journals and materials not published elsewhere (datasets, pre-prints, post-prints, performance recordings, syllabi, theses and dissertations, etc). Books are not typically included in institutional repositories.
What is OpenBU?
, or OpenBU, is the institutional repository of Boston University. OpenBU is freely accessible to the public, and as such, is open access. This does not mean that every item’s files are available for viewing by anyone; some items are restricted for publication-related or other reasons. Our goal is to make as much of OpenBU open-access as possible.
May I submit websites?
OpenBU does not currently support the archiving of websites, but we aim to enable this in the future. At the moment, we can only archive HTML pages. For more information, please contact us
May I submit datasets?
Certainly! There are practical considerations to keep in mind: for example, if your files are very large, users might have trouble downloading them. The BU Libraries, together with Information Services & Technology
and in consultation with the Sponsored Programs
, are working on offering a set of services and information relating to data management planning. If you have a dataset you’d like to archive and/or make available to the public, please contact us
and we’ll work together to determine the best way to do that.
Is BU looking to archive and disseminate only current research, or past research as well?
We are looking for any materials you, the author, care to give us. Strong preference is given to what we can disseminate openly. For peer-reviewed work, this means materials created and/or negotiated for publication at present and in the future, as well as past articles, providing they do not conflict with contractual obligations.
If you wish to deposit past research but do not know whether you have the rights to do so, we can help you sort it out—please contact us and tell us about it.
Your work does not need to be peer-reviewed or previously published to be deposited into OpenBU (see below).
Where will all these materials live?
They will be stored on computer servers owned and maintained by BU.
How is this different from self-publishing on my own website/blog/etc?
If you have a static website that is periodically updated, then you know how difficult it is to keep it up to date. We can help BU researchers and faculty members manage their materials in a central location, in standardized formats, and in ways that allow for more effective search, retrieval, and long-term preservation.
Can my articles be used to provide search or other services by companies such as Google?
Yes. Google and other search engines will pick up materials located in OpenBU. This exposure is a major benefit of open access. Each object (article, video file, etc.) is tagged with metadata (descriptive data) that, while not modifying the object itself, allows indexing systems such as Google Scholar to ensure wider visibility for your work.
How will BU deal with technological obsolescence (that is, long-term access to file formats that may become dated), both in regards to archival software and software used to create/view/use works in the first place?
While we work to adapt to the latest technological developments in file formatting, we encourage the preservation of data in open, sustainable, internationally standardized formats such as PDF and XML. If you have questions about which file formats can be maintained and preserved within OpenBU, please contact us
Does publishing in OpenBU affect my copyright?
Authors submitting to OpenBU grant BU a non-exclusive
license that does not necessarily preclude other publication activities, which may or may not involve payment. As long as any charges imposed on processing and/or publication are intended to cover the costs of these activities, and not make a profit, the activities are in compliance with the spirit of open access.
If you deposit an article into OpenBU and then decide to revise and/or submit it for publication, please contact us to discuss your options. We are able to place an embargo on the deposited piece, such that its description is still open but the files themselves are inaccessible for a set period of time (usually six months to three years). You do not need to withdraw your work from OpenBU in order for it to be considered by a publisher.
How do I know whether the journal I published in allows placement of my manuscript in OpenBU?
You can consult your agreement, the publisher’s website, or SHERPA/RoMEO
, a searchable database of many publishers’ open access and institutional repository policies. Most major publishers will allow you to place a version of your article into an institutional repository, but many of those request that you not use the publisher’s version, and instead post a pre-print or post-print manuscript (see below).
If you have not yet signed a publication agreement, we encourage you to find out your publisher/journal’s self-archiving policy before signing. Some publishers already have self-archiving permission as a standard feature of their agreements. If yours doesn’t, or is too restrictive, consider adding a standard publication addendum, with which many publishers are already familiar. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) has a short write-up on copyright management and your rights as an author. Their standard addendum is downloadable from that page. Additional addenda for authors, made available from different organizations, can be found here.
We are also, of course, available for consultation.
Some publisher policies will only allow for pre-print (or post-print) manuscript of my article in an institutional repository. How are post-print and pre-print defined?
- A pre-print manuscript refers to your own version of the article as it existed when it was submitted for peer review.
- A post-print manuscript refers to your own version of the article after revisions following peer review.
- The publisher’s copy will include the journal formatting and page numbers, and will usually be a PDF document.
How do I submit articles to OpenBU?
Please see instructions on submitting to OpenBU
. We are also happy to deposit materials for you; please send them to us
along with the following information:
- a statement such as “I authorize the BU Libraries to deposit the enclosed item(s) on my behalf”;
- which version of your work these files represent (pre-print, post-print, publisher’s copy, other);
- publication information, if any;
- written permission from the publisher, if necessary.
Can I submit class materials such as presentations and syllabi?
Absolutely. We are interested in peer-reviewed materials, teaching and learning objects, presentations, lab experiment procedures, and many other products of original research. Please contact us
if you have any questions.
I've never submitted materials to OpenBU, yet some of the work I've authored appears in there. How and why did that happen?
We do active collection development on our own. We may have found your work in an open-access subject repository such as PubMed Central
, or in an open-access journal. Or we may have found your CV online, and done some research to find out which of your publishers allow us to deposit your work (often after an embargo period).
We do this partly for your benefit, and partly for BU’s. We value your work, and it deserves to get as much recognition as possible; depositing it into OpenBU makes it more discoverable and accessible in the long term. In addition, BU has an active interest in collecting and preserving the institution’s intellectual and artistic output. OpenBU is a good venue for that.
See also: Open Access FAQ