13 November 2008

Costs and Benefits of OA (part 3) - Berlin 6

Fred Friend offered some insight into the costs for Institutional Repositories, as well as some closing remarks.

He pointed to Alma Swan's study of these costs (found in the DRIVER guide to European Repositories) - "The Business of Digital Repositories". The study shows that there is a huge variation in start-up costs according to whether free software is used, the number of staff days required to set up the system, and which functions are included in these costs. Another source of information, Friend says, is the UK LIFE project - which speaks of costs as illustrative, rather than absolute. This provides good methodology, Friend says, that we need to create a methodology for analyzing costs.

It's very difficult to find a norm, since there are so many factors that affect cost. A wealth of data has been aggregated on this, but outside of very general assumptions, it's difficult to come up with a definite conclusion.

"If there's little known about IR cost ... there's even less known about IR benefit"

Benefits are currently described in very general terms. Are these general statements sufficient to justify to a university finance office an expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars / euros / pounds per year? Can these benefits be quantified in financial terms? Should they be? We need to be more specific in describing the benefits.

"It can be done," Friend says. There are benefits. We all know that IRs serve an important role, but we do need more data and a way of messaging this if we are going to make a case for the long term support of a repository.

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