What Is EPrints

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Let's get away from the OAIS definitions and repository talk. Let's think about EPrints as an abstract information system. WHat features does it provide, so what classes of problem can it be used for?


Perhaps primarily, EPrints is a tool for getting information from people. It has a very good interface (though we say so ourselves) for helping people enter quite complex information in as accurate and complete a way as possible, and it is very flexible about what kind of information can be entered and how.

You can use it for anything you want to capture from people: coursework handins, conference submissions, blog entries, summer holiday photo snaps, MP3 or video collections, questionnaires, workshop registration or credit card details. Or there's the more obvious repository candidates: scientific data, published documents, student portfolios, fine art exhibitions.


EPrints provides an editorial workflow for items that have been entered (see acquisition, above) to be checked, reviewed, commented on, modified, returned to the original depositor, moved to another reviewer, or placed into a final, published state. This facilitates simple peer review, editorial oversight or management authorisation for publishing, commentary or rights checking. EPrints has an extremely flexible editorial workflow that allows items that are requested for deposit to be passed to one or more editorial assistants, depending on the editorial scope that they have been assigned. Items can pass between different editors as different parts of the workflow are enacted. This means that a report can undergo copy-editing, copyright checks, IPR scrutiny and security analyses by a range of different people before it is allowed to appear in the public repository, or that a student PhD thesis can be signed off by the viva committee, the departmental teaching office and the library.

Dissemination and Publishing

EPrints allows you to create and manage a large web site, with skins, a variety of navigation structures and search options, multilingual intefaces and adaptable content. The licensing and visibility of each item of content is controllable. This is great for all aspects of dissemination and publishing in the academic world. (We differentiate between the two because the items in the repository may have been published by a third party.)

As well as disseminating individual items, EPrints can deal with a set or collection of material. For example, it is an ideal place to put the proceedings from a conference or workshop, instead of creating a bare website from scratch. You can either set up a whole repository if it is a big conference (like Open Repositories 2008) or just use a single collection if it is a small workshop (for example Web Evolve 2008).

Classification and Tagging

EPrints allows items to be tagged with controlled metadata from restricted vocabularies or taxonomies or with uncontrolled keywords or informal folksonomies. Its autocompletion facilities allow users to be prompted with commonly used folk terms to describe an item, and its keyword view styles allow tag clouds to be displayed.

Ongoing Review Conditions

The manager-defined quality issues allow live items in the repository to be monitored against phases in their ongoing lifecycles. For example, to make sure that a record about a project has been updated with the completion report, or a submitted journal article has been updated with the decision to publish, or that a user has updated their CV in the last 6 months, or that the full set of referee's comments have been entered for a paper in a workshop.

ITunes Interface

EPrints provides an ITunes-like, multicolumn interface for viewing selected attributes of a set of records taken from the repository. This allows an overall view of slices of the repository, and allows large numbers of records to be quickly compared and acted on. List some enabled use cases