Poor version identification hinders users’ trust in the research outputs they find in digital repositories. The Jisc funded VIF (Version Identification Framework) project has completed a Framework of recommendations and solutions for all those with a role in repository use and implementation to address this problem.
A serious growing pain for digital repositories has been the issue of how to identify versions of open access (OA) works deposited in them. Draft versions, working papers, different formats, supporting material and so on are all accepted by repositories, but their version status is often poorly described and items are often not linked together appropriately. 'There are a range of solutions and suggestions for repository managers to take advantage of and to pick and choose from according to their needs.'
The Framework promotes better practice for repository staff, offering solutions that enable clearer understanding of version relationships as well as better version identification of digital objects, no matter how an end user accesses the object held in a repository.
Discussion has taken place with the software development community on how to improve the way platforms allow versions to be organised, but now repository managers must engage with the issues and implement best practice and guidance. The primary recommendation of the VIF project is that the 5 essential pieces of version information identified by the Framework are made transparent to the end users of repositories: defined dates, identifiers, version numbering, version labels or taxonomies and a text description. VIF suggests embedding such information into objects themselves, for example using coversheets or watermarks, as well as storing detailed version information in the repository metadata itself.
Other recommendations include the need for repository managers and staff to think strategically about what their repository is for and what it will be required to do, and for content creators to use a numbering system that denotes their major revisions.
Balviar Notay, Jisc programme manager, said: ‘Version identification is an important element of the repository infrastructure, one which has a direct impact not only on the trust users have in the content of repositories but also on their experiences of using that content. This Framework is therefore an important step in ensuring that repository managers and staff, software developers and authors bear the needs of their users fully in mind in the development of repositories.’
Frances Shipsey, Project Director said: ‘VIF has taken an extremely realistic approach and the Framework has been developed to be both practical and useful for the community. We recommend that the key to making your systems easy for researchers to understand and use is to ensure consistency and transparency. The Framework’s approach is therefore not prescriptive; there are a range of solutions and suggestions for repository managers to take advantage of and to pick and choose from according to their needs. There is also a range of advice covering what the issues are, the latest research, a section for content creators and recommendations for software development.’
For all the VIF recommendations
For further information please contact: Balviar Notay