Repositories On The Record

So we’ve finally reached the end of our 2-prong Delphi study and boy was it a long process. We conducted 8 interviews, the results of which would inform a follow-up questionnaire. The subsequent results of this questionnaire would then establish a consensus on what is best practice for building your very own Institutional Repository (we now just call them IRs because we feel we know them well enough!).


Initially we sent out requests for interview with 22 Irish IR experts (managers or developers) who we sourced through the OpenDOAR directory of repositories. We managed to arrange 7 interviews. Each interviewee was sent the interview schedule so they could prep themselves for the ‘grilling’ that would ensue. The schedule was informed by what we learned from our literature review and covered all elements of IR planning, building and marketing that we could think of. There were questions on planning, policies, technology, metadata, legal implications, security, staffing/maintenance, audit/certification, unforeseen obstacles and marketing. Finally we asked for any last pieces of advice they could offer us as IR-building newbies.

interview grilling
Not an interview grilling…

On May 5th we began.


We brought audio recorders and phones and, where possible, a note-taker, to ensure that we captured every last bit of priceless wisdom. All of our interviewees were very willing and only too happy to impart their expert knowledge. I suppose it’s kind of flattering to be asked to be interviewed and, as information scientists and librarians, the imparting of knowledge is surely one of the attractions of the job.

By May 25th we had 5 interviews done and another 2 arranged but we felt we needed at least one more. We decided to request participation from further afield so another 7 emails were sent out to experts sourced (again) through the OpenDOAR directory of repositories but who, this time, were not based in Ireland. From this shoutout we managed to set up another interview via Skype. We then set about transcribing and coding.


The transcription process is very time-consuming and it’s hard work. It doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power but requires good concentration and the ability to type fairly quickly and accurately, neither of which I possess but I was eager to learn and participate. It also requires good notes and clear recordings of the interviews. For the most part, it was easy enough, although we did have a few lines that had to be listened to over and over and over again in an attempt to decipher what was said. It wasn’t quite “Oranges and Peaches” but there are some transcriptions which include [unintelligible], [talking over one another] and [laughing] because we couldn’t figure out what to write down. Along with some expert help from Hanna’s mum we got the 8 interviews transcribed in 2 days.

Oranges and peaches
The lego librarian finally finds ‘Oranges and Peaches’…


The final part of the process was coding the interviews ahead of our questionnaire. All of the interview answers inevitably fell under the thematic umbrellas that we had created for our interview schedule. The answers weren’t exactly shocking or unexpected but a couple of the emergent themes included widespread indifference to audit and certification as well as a takedown policy whereby if a depositor has any problem with their work being included (even if it was mandated) then it’s immediately taken down. All the details will be included in our Final Paper.


The coding then informed a 9 part anonymous questionnaire which we sent back to our interviewees to complete. Thankfully we got a full response rate – 8 out of 8 – within the week. Boom! We can now analyse the answers and write it up in the paper.

As promised in the last blog post, we are now building this darn thing…

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