Since 2002, Organic Eprints has been freely sharing information about organic agriculture and food with the world
What is it?
Organic Eprints is an archive containing over 10,000 (spring 2011) publications about organic agriculture and food, deposited from more than 30 different countries. It encompasses not just refereed articles, books and reports but also ‘grey literature’ – from conference papers and proceedings to articles in farmers’ newspapers – and information about research programmes, projects and organisations.
Anyone, anywhere in the world can access the material in the archive through search engines, and sign up as a registered user in order to deposit their own work. Before a paper is uploaded, a ‘national editor’ will check that the papers are relevant to the subject and that the bibliographic data is correct. The user makes a declaration that they have the right to deposit the work. Where there is a copyright restriction on the deposited document, the depositor can make restrictions on access and, in that case, an interested user can request a copy directly through the system.
The archive has 22 ‘national editors’, each based in a country with an involvement in the archive’s work. Most of these are in Europe but Canada and Brazil are also represented and the US has expressed an interest in appointing a national editor.
As well as accessing the material in the archive, users can save searches and receive a weekly or monthly email notifying them of any new deposits made within that search area.
How is it a success?
The steady growth of Organic Eprints over nearly a decade has been remarkable.
“Just the fact that it has increased from starting from scratch in 2002 to now having more than 10,000 deposits is in itself a proof of its success. If people weren’t using it, it wouldn’t be increasing. We also have more than 15,000 registered users in addition to all those who use it,” says Ilse A Rasmussen, Organic Eprints’ archive administrator.
Registered users are predominately from Europe, but North and South America also feature highly. Up until recently, Asian and African countries only made up a small proportion of the archive’s registered users but the editors are making efforts to reach out to those parts of the world. The next international organic conference is taking place in Korea and Organic Eprints hopes to appoint a Korean national editor as a result of the event.
Through its system of national editors the archive is also helping to promote international collaboration around organic agriculture. Greece recently decided to appoint an Organic Eprints editor as it considered it an opportunity to increase its involvement in the European organic agriculture research community.
Looking to the developing world, a Danish government-funded organic agriculture project in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania will require the theses and papers from the project to be deposited in Organic Eprints, thus expanding its reach into the heart of Africa.
While access to the whole range of material in Organic Eprints is valuable to those working in developing countries, “in Europe and north America where there is quite easy access to the literature, they think that the great thing about Organic Eprints is that you can get all the grey literature because usually conference proceedings can be really difficult to access. It can even be hard to find out what has been published and they can discover that much more easily through Organic Eprints,” explains Ms Rasmussen.
The success of the archive can also be seen in its position in league tables dominated by large scientific and institutional repositories. In a ranking of 100 repositories in Europe, Organic Eprints comes in at number 19, and of the world’s almost 1200 repositories, Organic Eprints is at number 43.
“I think that’s pretty good for the small area that organic farming really is compared to physics and the other big subjects,” says Ms Rasmussen.