SUNScholar/Practical guidelines for starting an institutional repository (IR)

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The guidelines are targeted at academic institutions in developing countries world wide, who want to start an open access research repository and who want to know in detail what is required and how to do it step-by-step.

This soup-to-nuts overview may be particularly useful for those involved in the early stages of planning for an institutional repository.

The focus during development of the open system has been long term repository preservation, security, stability and interoperability on the internet.

These guidelines are also an attempt to promote the use of a reference architecture as best practice, for the implementation of DSpace as a trusted institutional digital repository, as we did for our repository, SUNScholar (


After quickly reading all of the steps below and then carefully building a test system, it should be possible to derive a business plan/model to solicit funding or prepare a fairly comprehensive initial capital expenditure foundation budget and then an implementation plan/schedule.

It is assumed that the institution has internet access and is prepared to make provision for a production and two backup data centers, in different geophysical locations, for the purposes of disaster recovery.

It is also assumed that the institution is aware of the critical importance of data sovereignty and repository preservation, especially in the light of the revelations about the American NSA and the "takedown" campaign by Elsevier.

Step by step recommendations

Step 1 - Open Access Policy and Repository Preservation Plan
Step 2 - Marketing Friendly Persistent URL and Preservable Digital Objects
Step 3 - Employ Repository Management Personnel
Step 4 - Build Repository IT Infrastructure
Step 5 - Install DSpace Repository Software
Step 6 - Repository System Backup & Monitoring
Step 7 - Repository Launch and Registration with Harvesters
Step 8 - Capture Research Records and Submit Research Items
Step 9 - Repository Self-Help and News
Step 10 - Engage Research Partners
Step 11 - Continuous System Improvement and Maintenance
Step 12 - Repository Research, Support and Management Help

  • For open access advocacy and repository content management , please contact:
Ina Smith:
  • For repository preservation, repository interoperability and digitisation management, please contact:
Wouter Klapwijk:
  • For repository systems management and errors/omissions/improvements regarding this wiki guide, please contact:
Hilton Gibson:
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Use the online wiki when doing test/development/production/backup system installations because the wiki has the latest information. See the links above.

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