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"An Evaluation of Scottish Higher Education Institutional Repositories." K. Veitch. G. Macgregor. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2019. Download PDF (BibTeX) ILS

Institutional repositories play an important role in the dissemination and preservation of scholarly research outputs. The last decade has seen substantial growth in the number of repositories and in repository usage within the UK, driven by a range of factors including research council and funder policies. Despite this growth, issues of poor usability have been identified as a significant barrier to user acceptance of and engagement with institutional repositories.
This research aims to contribute towards a better overview and understanding of usability issues in relation to the Scottish higher education institutional repository landscape. To help achieve this, a novel set of domain-specific usability heuristics is developed. It is hoped that this new set of domain-specific heuristics will be a useful tool for repository managers and usability evaluation professionals. This new set of heuristics was used to evaluate the user interfaces of all 18 repositories provided by Scottish higher education institutions (HEIs). It is anticipated that the results of the evaluations will be useful for repository managers, in identifying the priority areas for improvement and thereby enabling time and resources to be focused on resolving these issues.
The results of the evaluations demonstrated that usability issues are significant presence across the user interfaces of all 18 of the Scottish HEI repositories. While the greatest proportion of the usability issues uncovered were classed as minor, a significant proportion were classed as major (based on Jakob Nielsen's severity ratings system). The greatet number of major usability violations occurred in relation to the provision of web 2.0 features, help and supporting documentation and usage statistics. It was recommended that these three areas should be prioritised for resolution.
In the event that all major usability issues have been resolved, it was recommended that the most frequently occurring minor usability issues should be addressed, relating to flexibility and efficiency of use, browsing options, making objects, actions and options visible, visual design and terminology. Given the significant extent of the usability issues encountered, it is hoped that the present study will prompt renewed attention to the issue of the usability of institutional repositories, as an important factor impacting on user acceptance and engagement.