Economists Online, a new economics subject repository, was officially launched on 28th January at the British Library Conference Centre. This service has been developed by Nereus, the international consortium of academic research libraries with strengths in economics, and co-funded by the European Commission’s eContentplus programme. The project has taken an international, subject-orientated approach which has set standards, guarantees the quality of information and provides strong branding which can act as model for others to follow.
Economists in participating institutions, including UCL, have been encouraged to deposit copies of their publications in their local institutional repository and Economists Online – a multilingual portal – picks up or ‘harvests’ this material, making it freely available. The portal provides individual profiles and complete publication lists of scholars, faceted search technology, downloadable primary data sets and rich bibliographic information, with abstracts, JEL codes and Open URL links.
Attended by librarians, IT specialists, publishers and economists from 23 countries, the 2-day Subject Repositories conference allowed Nereus members to showcase the service in both plenary and parallel sessions, sharing lessons learned and engaging delegates in discussions on core themes, for example, infrastructure and interoperability, content recruitment, multilingual tools, data sets, usage statistics and intellectual property rights. The latter workshop was facilitated by Martin Reid, Academic Support Manager for Social Sciences within UCL Library Services. The programme also placed subject repositories in the wider context, with delegates hearing about repository trends across 3 continents.
Particular highlights included Dr. Clifford Lynch, the Director for Networked Information (CNI), ‘speculating irresponsibly’ [his words] and Hans Geleijnse, the Director of Economists Online, surveying the landscape of existing subject repositories in Europe. Themes which came up repeatedly during the conference included the importance of sustainability, the need for a critical mass of content, visibility as a key to success and how subject repositories can provide tailored services for specific disciplines.
Prof. Nick Barr from the London School of Economics shared his thoughts and observations about the changing nature of scholarly communication in economics, before launching Economists Online. While he remembers how an experienced and learned economist in the 1950s could claim justifiably to know the whole of the subject, now no one academic could lay such a claim. With the overwhelming volume of journals, working papers, conference proceedings and data now littering the Web, Economists Online is part of the solution in combating such information overload. Prof. Barr challenged the audience to create search systems which would respond to a search query of ‘articles that interest me’!
Dr. Paul Ayris, Director of UCL Library Services, delivered the closing address where he set out the environment in which a researcher works, namely, a world comprising of a variety of systems, both local to an institution and global, with a range of sources and materials from the traditional to the cutting edge. Dr. Ayris considered what a third generation subject repository might look like incorporating e-Press functions, the need for open access to be embedded at the institutional level and the importance of strategic partnerships.