What is a repository?

A digital repository is a mechanism for managing and storing digital content. Repositories can be subject or institutional in their focus. Putting content into an institutional repository enables staff and institutions to manage and preserve it, and therefore derive maximum value from it. A repository can support research, learning, and administrative processes. Repositories use open standards to ensure that the content they contain is accessible in that it can be searched and retrieved for later use. The use of these agreed international standards allows mechanisms to be set up which import, export, identify, store and retrieve the digital content within the repository.

Digital repositories may include a wide range of content for a variety of purposes and users. What goes into a repository is currently less an issue of technological or software ability, and more a policy decision made by each institution or administrator. Typically content can include research outputs such as journal articles or research data, e-theses, e-learning objects and teaching materials, and administrative data. Some repositories only take in particular items (such as theses or journal papers), whilst others seek to gather any credible scholarly work produced by the institution; limited only by each author's retained rights from publishers. However, some more complex objects (websites, advanced learning objects, 3D topographical representations and other data sets) do present a technological challenge.

Find out more from the JISC Digital Repositories infoKit