Project Mission and Background

An Institutional Repository ("IR") is a digital collection that captures and preserves a university’s intellectual output. A tangible indicator of a university’s quality and social impact, an IR demonstrates the scientific, social, and economic relevance of a university’s research activities. By making their results easily accessible, an IR increases the institution’s visibility, status, and public value.

The development of ScholarlyCommons@Penn supports several initiatives outlined in the Penn Compact. Maintaining a central repository of Penn scholarship will encourage the exchange of research across disciplines and promote increased collaboration between departments on campus--key goals of the "Integrating Knowledge" principle in the Compact. The repository will also be an effective way for Penn to put our scholarship into the hands of non-Penn researchers, both close at hand and across the globe. As President Gutmann wrote on "Engaging Locally and Globally" in the Compact, "we will share the fruits of our integrated knowledge wherever there is an opportunity for our students, faculty, and alumni to serve and to learn."

A pilot project, initiated in early 2004 with Penn’s School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS), featured SEAS scholarly output. It also gave the Library opportunities to explore, on a relatively small scale, development, implementation, and management of an IR. Among the goals:

  • to raise the profile and stature of Penn Engineering by making its scholarly output available online;
  • to highlight publications from SEAS departments, centers, laboratories, and institutes in a public repository;
  • to use the IR as a way of assisting anyone interested in finding out more about Penn Engineering (for instance, potential new faculty and graduate students).

Library-SEAS collaboration in the pilot project served as a starting point and model for future participation in the IR by other Penn units. Its success has drawn other campus units to participate, highlighting and disseminating scholarly accomplishments from across the University of Pennsylvania.