UK Institutional Repository Search: A collaborative project to showcase UK research output through advanced discovery and retrieval facilities

Sophia Jones, Vic Lyte

Full Text: Presentation


University librarians are becoming increasingly involved in managing or advocating repositories in their institutions, as part of the Open Access movement. Technological changes and developments have an impact on libraries and search and discovery is a feature that inspires ideas and projects about useful and efficient ways of searching for academic research output.


Intute Repository Search (IRS)[1] was set up to develop a UK repository search service to support academic activity.  It is funded by the JISC[2] and led by MIMAS[3] in partnership with SHERPA[4], UKOLN[5] and NaCTEM[6].  IRS is designed to serve as a showcase for UK research and education.  The technological developments in IRS operate to reach the project’s main targets. This paper will discuss these targets and the achievements of Intute Repository Search.


The project has a series of high level aims:

•         Identify, develop and support high-value research knowledge communities within search and discovery process by delivering free targeted search and discovery facilities derived from UK HEI Institutional Repositories

•         Encourage the embedding of repository search in familiar and day-to-day research desktop environments

•         Showcase the collective and collaborative UK Research output and perspectives in Institutional Repositories

•         Provide improved services to individuals including the ability to personalise information based on user profile, directed browse and dynamic navigation

•         Investigate opportunities to include other relevant information sources outside the UK as guided by the academic community

•         Provide a richer, more meaningful contextual search facility including full-text searching, text mining and other techniques


The project has identified and successfully carried out specific development paths – namely, simple metadata search, full-text indexing of documents, text-mining of full-text documents, automatic subject classification, clustering of results and browsing/visualisation of the search results.  Intute Repository Search currently searches over 90 UK institutional repositories that are taken from the Directory of Open Access Repositories, OpenDOAR[7].


The advanced discovery and retrieval features that IRS provides include automated document clustering and classification based on terminology; personalisation of searching; and concept visualisation from automated clustering. User group requirements have been integrated into the project’s development iterations to ensure that the project adequately reflects what researchers want from a service such as IRS.


The benefits that this search service provides are threefold:  for the research community it means that IRS provides a more effective contextual search facility; for the institutions themselves it means that their research output attracts a global audience; and for society as a whole, it means that publicly funded research is not only made easily reached through Open Access but that it is also more clearly identifiable for the person or organisation who searches for a particular study.


IRS is a valuable tool that does not work in isolation.  It is a collaborative project that shares expertise from established organisations within the UK.  At the same time, it shares links and experiences with other projects such as UKPubMed and the EC funded European project DRIVER.  By linking with other international projects and initiatives, the project’s intention is joint information gathering and setting up strategic alliances, thereby broadening the research and teaching knowledge domain and making sense of the repository landscape together in an effort to prioritize search targets and avoid duplication of effort but instead, share best practice.








[2] Joint Information Systems Committee:

[3] National data centre, University of Manchester, UK:

[4] Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and

[5] Research Organisation, University of Bath:

[6] National Centre for Text

[7] Open Directory of Open Access