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Using SWORD and SWAP to Implement the MIT OA Mandate

Boston, MA In March of 2009 the faculty at MIT voted on a policy that would make their scholarly articles openly available on the Web. It states, “The Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.”  The DSpace repository at MIT ( is being used to house those articles and to make them openly available to the world.  In order to ensure that efficient workflows were in place to receive the articles, the MIT Libraries undertook to customize their ingest workflows, leveraging functionality recently made available to the DSpace community, as well as, looking at efforts by others in the broader repository community.

MIT Libraries’ staff focused their efforts on two distinct challenges: first, how to streamline the manual upload process for their researchers and outreach librarians; and, second, how to lower the barriers to contribution by members of the publishing community supportive of MIT’s policy.  To address the first challenge, MIT looked to leverage the flexibility of Manakin and functionality available through DSpace configurable submission.  For the second, the MIT Libraries began to investigate how SWORD and SWAP could facilitate external contributions by publishers.

Scholarly deposit systems should be simple - entering long and complex information about articles is avoided with the MIT Libraries’ customized submission interface.  Only two pieces of metadata are required for already published papers: the name of the authorizing MIT author and a DOI or URL. If the paper is unpublished, four fields are requested.

The use of SWORD and SWAP with the DSpace repository at MIT is part of a larger strategy to improve collaboration with publishers, facilitating a “push” of large amounts of content into a repository without necessitating a platform-specific solution. Ultimately this “publisher template” could be used with other repository platforms such as Fedora and EPrints. Richard Rodgers, Head of Software Development at MIT Libraries, says, “If we do this right there will be no code to share. SWORD and SWAP are already open and accessible. We have localized their use to accommodate MIT-specific metadata.”

The SWAP (Scholarly Works Application Profile) was adopted by MIT to more accurately describe the contributed articles.  Since SWAP was already integrated with SWORD (Simple Web service Offering Repository Deposit), a lightweight protocol based on Atom, implementing a workflow for publishers to be able to support the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy with remote deposits of scholarly articles into the DSpace repository seemed like an effort that would benefit all parties.  Initial tests have been successful and MIT hopes to be able to implement a production SWORD deposit workflow with partner publishers in early 2010.

With thanks to Sean Thomas, DSpace@MIT Product Manager, for his assistance in preparing this article.