. . . opening access to research  

Completed Project -


Service  | Mission  |  Aims  |  Partners  |  Staff  |   Management

Service Site

The PROSPERO service site has been built by project staff at EDINA in its new name as "the Depot". This provides an ingest and storage service for academics whose institutions do not as yet have repositories.


The mission of Prospero is to scope a service to enable all UK academics to share in the benefits of open access exposure for their research outputs, by providing an intake and storage facility for general UK HE use. Where an academic's institution has a repository, this should be the most appropriate point of deposit. For those without, there is no current provision: PROSPERO is scoping a service to fill this need. By complementing the existing repository infrastructure, the PROSPERO service would create a 'level playing field' for open access deposit and use by academics in all UK HEIs. The proposed service is viewed as a facility to support the policies of JISC for Open Access, aiding national, institutional and funding policy development in advance of a comprehensive institutional archive network.

Work on Prospero is being undertaken in two phases: a pilot scoping phase from March to July 2006 and then a full implmentation phase from August 2006 to February 2009, depending on the outcome of the pilot scoping phase.


Institutional repository development
The experience of the FAIR programme and many participants in the open access environment is that institutional repositories offer the best way forward to achieve cultural change. While appreciating and supporting the natural desire of academics to view research through subject-based access points or portals, the underpinning ingest and storage functions of a repository seem to be best handled at a local and distributed level. That is, by using institutional repositories holding a variety of subjects, the intake and storage of materials can be handled locally, while at the same time search and access to materials can be handled nationally, or through subject-portals.

For institutional repositories, the system is in the form of a deal: the repository gets an existing infrastructure of technical managerial and advocacy support through its institutional setting. In return institutions get the spin-off benefits of having the institution's intellectual output gathered into one place in a form capable of providing information management facilities. Academics get localised and contextualised support in repository use, while repositories get the benefits of being integrated into institutional workflows.

However, many of the advantages of open access repositories are only realised when they are used by large sections of the research community. Using institutional repositories, this calls for the establishment of large numbers of repositories, depending on large-scale "buy-in" from institutions. In the UK, through the work of JISC and other agencies, there is now large scale representation of repositories for the research-led universities. 17 of the 19 Russell Group universities have repositories: 11 out of 16 "1994 Group" universities have repositories.

As always in any long-term process of adoption, there is now a division between haves and have-nots: between those universities with open access facilities for their staff and those without. This division has been raised as a potential stumbling-block for national policy development for open access. While staff at different universities have different facilities for exposing their work through open access, it can be difficult to formulate policies that allow all academics to be treated equally.

The place of PROSPERO
JISC has now supported a project to scope a remedy to this problem. PROSPERO is scoping the build of a nationally available repository that will be open to all academics without repository facilities in their own institutions. Academics would be able to deposit their work and give open access to it, with the same type of service given by institutional repositories. All UK academics would then be able to work on a level playing field as regards open access to their work.

However, the key concept for PROSPERO is that this is not seen as a long term solution, nor as a replacement for institutional repositories being built. As outlined above, the most sustainable and stable infrastructure is provided by a distributed repository network. In separate funding schemes, JISC is promoting institutional repository development, through projects like SHERPA Plus, and resources like the staff of dedicated JISC repository development officers and other work in the Digital Repositories Programme. Institutional repositories and the advantages they offer for institutions and localised knowledge management remain key to JISC future strategy and development plans.

As institutional repositories are developed, then the content amassed by PROSPERO would be exported to the appropriate repository. Persistent identifiers would mean that references to eprints held by PROSPERO remained constant even when exported. In this way, seamless access to the material would be maintained from the moment of ingest in PROSPERO to the launching of the institution's repository, maintaining the level playing field through future repository development.

PROSPERO would support academics and their use of open access by simply exposing their work. It cannot offer the same levels of localised integration and information management that have been mentioned as part of the deal for institutions. Therefore, the incentives and benefits for institutions to build repositories remain and will act as drivers for local development.

Finally, PROSPERO could be integrated with other national open access facilities. The main body of institutional repositories and their relationship to the work have been mentioned. In addition, as part of the SHERPA project, the British Library has created a national repository for non-affiliated scholars. Those researchers without an existing institution can now already use the British Library's repository system to expose their work as open access material.

With these three facilities - the institutional repository network, the British Library repository and the PROSPERO service, the UK would then be able to boast comprehensive open access provision for all UK researchers, making it the first open access nation.


The project is a joint collaboration between SHERPA, led by the University of Nottingham and EDINA, at the University of Edinburgh.

The experience and skills of each partner complement the aims of the project. EDINA has great experience in providing national and national-scale data services, while SHERPA has experience in the creation and use of repostiories, and advocacy amongst stakeholders.


Project Co-Directors

Peter Burnhill, EDINA

Stephen Pinfield, SHERPA

Project Managers

Christine Rees, EDINA

Bill Hubbard, SHERPA

For further information about PROSPERO and the intended work of the project, then please contact either Bill or Christine through the details above.

Project Management

Day to day management is under the control of the Project Managers, with oversight by the Project Director. EDINA will act as the lead partner for the purposes of project administration and finance. Overall responsibility for the project will rest with the Co-Directors of the project. A work package focusing on project management including assignment of responsibilities is part of the overall project plan. However, it is expected that each partner will have responsibility for particular areas of activity and these will be project managed by either EDINA or SHERPA.

The project will be managed within usual line management arrangements at EDINA and SHERPA, including the professional development/training needs of project staff. Although a formal project management framework will not be used, the project team will put into place a system of communicating and reporting across the two sites in time for the start of funding of the main phase. A series of full project meetings will take place at key points throughout the project.


The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has backed the project, as part of a larger programme of funding for repository development in UK institutions.

Project Documents

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