FAQ: the British Museum repository and the Shared Repository beta service

1. What content is held in the British Museum's repository?

The repository contains journal articles, datasets, book chapters, conference papers, books, blog posts, research reports, exhibitions, theses, and a few other research outputs.


2. Is everything available to download?

Where a full text copy of the item is held, it is available to read and download for your research. Sometimes publisher licence restrictions do not allow us to hold the full file; in those cases, an ‘Official URL’ link usually leads to the full item.


3. What kind of research does the British Museum do?

Research underpins all core purposes of the British Museums. We play a key role in the UK research community and work with national and international partners to support research of all kinds. Our staff work with scholarly colleagues from the UK and globally, on projects ranging from traditional collection-based research, digital humanities and data infrastructure, to analysis with significant learning and public engagement outputs.

Our staff have extensive research expertise, we lead and support research projects, and supervise a range of collaborative PhDs, research placements and fellowships.


4. Who can deposit content?

Items in the repository have at least one creator or contributor who is a member of British Museum staff. British Museum research afiliates, collaborative PhD students and PhD placement students also contribute their research items to the repository. Some outputs are produced by British Museum departments rather than individuals, including many of the datasets in the repository.

Material not produced by or in association with British Museum staff is not eligible for inclusion.


5. What is the ‘relevance’ order of search results?

When sorted by relevance, results are displayed according to an algorithm taking account of the frequency and position of the search terms within each item and across all content. Your search term might occur in the files as well or instead of the displayed metadata.

Note you can change the display order to show search results by date of publication.


6. Can I re-use the items for my research?

Research outputs are made available in the Repository on terms agreed with the authors/depositors of the outputs. As a user you may use the items only if you abide by the licence or other terms under which it has been released, e.g. the terms of a specific Creative Commons Licence. Where no licence is displayed, unless indicated otherwise items made publicly available in the Repository are protected by copyright with all rights reserved.

Sometimes individual files have their own file-level licences, and these may be different for each file where there's more than one. Look for licence information at the record level and also at the file level. Licence information is only displayed where known.


7. What is the Shared Research Repository?

The British Museum repository is part of a collaborative service which brings together the research outputs of a number of Independent Research Organisations (IROs), i.e. non-Higher Education organisations in receipt of public funding for their research. The Shared Research Repository provides a window on the research produced by such organisations through a single point of access and discovery.

Each pilot partner has its own repository which can be searched separately, but you can also explore the combined content of all partners by clicking on the green ‘Shared Research Repository’ bar at the top of each page. When a search is done at this level, results indicate the museum, gallery, archive or library responsible for that research.


8. What IROs are involved in the pilot service and how is it managed?

The six IROs are the British Museum, Tate, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), National Museums Scotland and the British Library. The British Library hosts the shared service and is exploring options for extending the service from 2020 onwards.


9. What research outputs do the other repositories contain?

We are all UK cultural or heritage organisations – museums, galleries, archives, libraries and data institutions, and our research is often based around our collections. Items include “German music broadsheets, 1500 – 1550” (BL, book chapter); “Wild and Majestic: Romantic views of Scotland” (NMS, exhibition); A Blake drawing rediscovered and redated” (Tate, journal article); “A revision of Scleria (Cyperaceae) in Madagascar” (RBG Kew, journal article); “Pudding Mill Lane (Crossrail XSK10)” (MOLA, archaeological dig dataset); “Dolphins at the British Museum: Zoomorphic Calusa Sinkers” (British Museum, journal article).


10. How can I get in touch about an item in the British Museum repository?

For general enquiries, use the contact form from the Repository’s home page. If you are the owner of the copyright or related rights in any of the material in the Repository and you believe that use of this material infringes your intellectual property or any other rights, or you believe that the material may be subject to a third party ownership or another legal claim, please contact us in writing as indicated in the Contact page.

To enquire about an item held in any of the other repositories, consult the Terms of Use at the bottom of each repository.


11. What are the next steps for the repository and the shared service?

The Beta repository service launched in November 2019 and will continue as Beta for the next few months. All six partner organisations will continue to add content, some additional features will be introduced, and we will evaluate the impact and benefits of the project so far. The British Library is also exploring options for moving to a full repository service from April 2020. The shared repository for cultural and heritage research ensures research from across UK museums, galleries, archives and libraries is discoverable and searchable not only directly from each organisation’s own repository but also via the shared discovery layer which allows users to explore the combined content of all partners in a single search.


12. How can I find out more?

We would be delighted to tell you more about our repository and the pilot shared service. Simply send us an email to get in touch.