. . . opening access to research  

Distribution of UK Higher Education Repositories

The Higher Education research base in the UK has now got effective blanket coverage from the repository network: what remains it to exploit this infrastructure. 2004/2005 saw a rapid growth in the number of institutional repositories in UK Higher Education and the establishment of a backbone for this national network of repositories among mainly research-led universities. Growth was continued in 2006 with further developments in content-type and in the spread of repositories outside the research-led universities. The release of mandates from various funding bodies (see JULIET) continues to help raise the profile of repository use and encourage adoption in other institutions.

Advocates and those interested in the spread of the repositories might find the following information useful, as it puts the growth of repositories in context against existing institutional groupings. In 2011, the picture for the Russell and 1994 Group became complete, with all members from both groups having working repositories. Those in the other major University groups - MillionPlus and University Alliance also now have the majority of their members with working repositories.

Top 20 Universities by research grant funding

Although the total number of HE institutions in the UK is fairly high - over 170 - and the number of institutional repositories is also high - currently over 150 - the national research effort is concentrated in a smaller number of institutions. The main aim of SHERPA and many others in the repository movement is to encourage open access to research material. The growth and utility of institutional repository establishment can therefore be measured by their installation within the most research-active institutions. According to figures from 2007 from the Times Higher Educational Supplement website on central grant research funding, the top 20 universities by research funding gain about 76% of the total annual research funding - 779,600,503 out of 1,005,130,904. Although these figures do not count external, commercial or private research funding, they give a good relative indication of funding levels and of research output. Significantly, of these top 20 universities, all of them have repositories.

Russell Group

There are 20 institutions within the Russell Group. To summarise from the Russell Group website:
"In 2001/02, Russell Group Universities accounted for over 60% (more than 1.5 billion) of UK Universities' research grant and contract income and over 55% of all doctorates awarded in the United Kingdom. In the 2001 national Research Assessment Exercise, 78% of the staff in grade 5* departments and 57% of the staff in grade 5 departments were located within Russell Group Universities."

Each of the 20 members of the Russell Group has a repository in operation and accepting content.

1994 Group

The 1994 Group universities are research universities of international standing. The 1994 Group website states that:
" In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2001), [ . . . ] 95% of staff submitted by 1994 Group Institutes achieved the top three grades, which indicates that member universities consistently employ researchers of a national or international standard."

There are 19 institutions within the 1994 Group and all have functioning repositories.

University Alliance

The University Alliance, developed from the Alliance of Non-Aligned Universities in 2006 and has 23 members from both pre and post 1992 universities. The Alliance members currently have 22 active repositories.


MillionPlus grew out of the Campaign for Mainstream Universities and describes itself as a university think-tank. It has 26 members, with 20 of them having active open access repositories.

Institutional and other repositories

Note that this analysis accounts for institutional repositories. The actual number of research repositories is higher. For instance, the University of Nottingham has three separate archives: Nottingham Eprints, as a repository for the research outputs of staff ; a repository for theses from its post-graduate students, and another for publications from the School of Modern Languages. The University of Southampton has both their institutional repository and the Electronics and Computer Science Department repository based at the University of Southampton. Using a different approach, the repository at the University of Edinburgh, called ERA, holds eprints, theses and dissertations within a single archive.

There are many reasons why an institution may choose to have multiple archives or to amalgamate their holdings. For example, the repository for the School of Modern Languages mentioned above holds conference papers written by a variety of authors - including some from outside the institution, so it is inappropriate to put these in the Nottingham Eprints archive. The institutional archives referred to here are repositories which will take research outputs from the whole spread of subject-disciplines represented within the institution and which are open for all of its academic authors to use.

Further breakdowns of repositories

The SHERPA website holds a quick summary of all available institutional repositories in the UK. To see breakdowns of repositories world-wide, institutional, departmental and subject-based; then see the Directory of Open Access Repositories - OpenDOAR.


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