Figshare v. Institutional Repositories.

About twice a week at the moment I’m asked to give advice on something in which I have an internal choice, “use our institutional repository ( or figshare”.

Both have very similar functional outcomes – they provide a permanent online space for material.  So, in order to help me, here is an explicit list of the things I think about to make a decision in each case.

Truly Permanent URLsDOIs.  Metadata mediated by a 3rd partyHandles – not as well understood as DOIs, but functional.  DOIs for unique material being implemented.
FindabilityExcellent – understood by Google Scholar et al.Excellent – indexed by local and international organisations.
Permanence and PreservationIntentions are good (actually excellent), but 3rd party commercial entity, so there will always be a concern.Long term explicit preservation plan, and work undergoing on being archived by National Library.
Ease of useCompletely under the control of the end user, excellent interface.Must be mediated by library staff.  Pre-registration of permanent URLs is not simply implemented, but achievable.
Content PresentationExcellent content viewers for tabular data, PDFs, &tcSimply presents file in a type-agnostic way.  becomes end user problem to view & use.
Metadata CollectionSimple but effective metadata collection.  Other than ORCID, no authority control.Some control, uses formal  metadata schema (Dublic Core, ETD (NDLTD).  ORCID is on its way.
Metadata Presentation/ InteroperabilityExtensive (proprietary) API.
OAI PMH (‘natch).  items exportable as SIP/XML/…
Control and CollectionWe have no idea what ‘our’ authors are doingWe can collect our institution’s output

The last item, and I think that is the real sticking point – us Librarians do like to have some control – can be mitigated by buying an institutional subscription to Figshare, and then use the API to transfer items into a dark archive if preservation concerns are so great we think we need to replicate them.  Functionally I think they are really similar apart from how content is presented, and what formal metadata is collected – the differences are in the lack of mediation in uploading material (which is a good thing) and the presentation of the content.

I’d be really interested to see what other IR managers and Figshare themselves think.  I want the best for the authors, that their work is findable, preserved and described.  

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