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DRS Basics

Getting things into the DRS

Getting things out of the DRS

Finding things in the DRS

Storage and Preservation

DRS Architecture

IRis & the DRS

Help and Other Resources


What is the Digital Repository Service?

The Digital Repository Service (DRS) is a secure repository system designed to store and share the scholarly work from Northeastern University’s colleges, departments, faculty, and staff. The DRS was developed by Northeastern University Libraries as a tool for the University community to protect the valuable information and data that has been created as part of the University’s research and instructional mission. It provides long-term security for the files it stores, as well as access management controls and support for various metadata standards to help ensure that data is as accessible and usable in the present and the future.

Anyone is welcome to use the DRS to discover publicly available content, and members of the Northeastern community are encouraged to sign in to access additional content that may not be publicly available. Faculty can upload files, make them public, and share them with anyone, or restrict access to only a certain set of users.

The DRS also provides mechanisms through which repository data can be used in other venues, such as departmental portals, digital research projects, and online publications. Because the DRS is built using Fedora, an open source repository system with a user-friendly API, objects stored in the DRS can be accessed and displayed using customized web-publishing tools, like Omeka, Drupal, or WordPress.

How are private files protected?

The access rights and permissions that determine who has the right to view or download a file are set at the time that particular file is ingested into the DRS. By default, the access rights for files are be set to "Public" when they are deposited, but the depositor may make them “Private” using the Permissions menu on the upload form. Marking these files as private will disallow anyone from accessing the files through the public interface (the files, including thumbnails can not be viewed or downloaded, and file details will not be discoverable by browsing or searching). For users who do not have access, it will be as if the files do not exist.

What is the intellectual property status of materials in the DRS?

DRS and Library staff respect copyright and expect users to follow all copyright and fair use guidelines. Submitters must affirm that they have the copyright or other intellectual property right or permission to grant these rights, and that the submission is in compliance with the Terms of Participation and other DRS policies, with all University policies including but not limited to the Appropriate Use Policy, and with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. The DRS will clearly identify the name(s) of all the author(s) or owner(s) of these files.

If an object in the DRS is under copyright (regardless of whether it has a copyright or other rights restriction notice), make sure you follow all copyright or fair use policies before using or distributing that object. For more information about copyright and fair use, visit the Library web page on copyright and fair use: http://library.northeastern.edu/get-help/copyright-and-fair-use.

Users who wish to assert copyright or rights restrictions for their object should do so by adding a copyright or other access statement to the Description/Abstract field for the object. Objects submitted to a Smart Collection may be flagged for review if the copyright status for the object is in question.

By submitting files and associated metadata to the DRS, submitters grant Northeastern University Libraries the perpetual right to reproduce, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the work(s) for non-commercial purposes.

Getting things into the DRS

Who can deposit material in the DRS?

By default, only Northeastern University faculty are allowed to deposit material in the DRS. Northeastern staff and graduate students may request deposit access. Certain DRS and Library staff members are authorized to act as a proxy uploaders for Northeastern faculty. This workflow is in place to allow DRS and other Library staff to submit content on the behalf of faculty who may not otherwise be able to deposit.

I work collaboratively with other people; how can non-Northeastern colleagues work with me in the DRS?

A myNEU username and password is required to sign in to the DRS, therefore you will need to request a sponsored account for your colleague before he or she can begin depositing. Once the sponsored account has been set up, he or she can request deposit access by contacting DRS Staff. Please contact Information Technology Services (http://www.northeastern.edu/its/services/sponsored/) for more information about applying for and setting up sponsored accounts.

I cannot sign in with myNEU username and password; what can I do?

The DRS uses Northeastern’s myNEU login system to control access. If you cannot sign in to the DRS using your myNEU credentials, please contact ITS (http://www.northeastern.edu/its/services/accounts/).

What kinds of things are appropriate to put into the DRS?

The DRS is intended as long-term, secure storage of high-value materials—things that are worth the investment of storage and curation costs. It’s best suited for things that you care about: research data, valuable digital assets, information that was costly to create, or materials that you’ll want to share and use again.

Commonly deposited materials include:

  • Research publications
  • Books
  • Presentations
  • Research materials
  • Photographs

What kinds of things are not appropriate to put into the DRS?

The DRS is not intended as private backup or storage. It should not be used for personal materials unrelated to the University’s mission (such as data relating to a private business enterprise) or for materials that are illegal or defamatory.

You should not upload materials that you did not create, or for which you have not obtained the necessary rights and permissions. DRS and Library staff respect copyright and expect users to follow all copyright and fair use guidelines. Submitters must affirm that they have the copyright or other intellectual property right or permission to grant these rights, and that the submission is in compliance with the Terms of Participation and Policies [link], with all University policies including but not limited to the Appropriate Use Policy (http://www.northeastern.edu/its/policies/aup/), and with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. The DRS will clearly identify the name(s) of all the author(s) or owner(s) of these files.

Generally, if you do not have the right to distribute a digital object, or are unsure if you have the right to distribute it, do not deposit that object. For more information about copyright and fair use, visit the Library web page on copyright and fair use: http://library.northeastern.edu/get-help/copyright-and-fair-use.

Users who wish to assert copyright or rights restrictions for their object should do so by adding a copyright or rights access statement to the Description/Abstract field for the object. Objects submitted to a Smart Collection may be flagged for review if the copyright status for the object is in question.

How can I find out what file formats I can upload?

The DRS can accept all file types, but there are a few select formats that we recommend you use for the sake of long term digital preservation. Please refer to the Policy on Format Support and Preservation for more information on accepted and supported file formats.

What happens to my document when I upload it to the DRS?

A few things happen to your file when it is uploaded to the DRS:

Virus Check
Your file is scanned for viruses
Metadata Extraction
Some administrative and technical metadata (such as file type and size) is extracted from the file and stored in the system
File Conversion
Some files will be converted to a more sustainable and system agnostic format. For example, Microsoft .docx files will be converted to PDF, and both files will be made available for download.
When an image is uploaded, a thumbnail version will be generated, as well as small, medium, and large versions, if the uploader chooses.
Metadata Review
The DRS is intended to store and share valuable scholarly material, therefore we want to make certain that material is discoverable. The best way to guarantee discoverability is to describe a file in detail with robust metadata, which is why the metadata for files uploaded to Smart Collections will be flagged for review by the library’s metadata librarians. During the metadata review, metadata librarians will add more information to the metadata record than allowed by the upload form, like notes, contributing authors, controlled vocabulary subject terms, or geographic information.

Why do I have to enter metadata for each file?

There are a few good reasons for recording detailed metadata for your file:

  • The more care you take to enter metadata, the better chance your record has of being found by others through search or browse.
  • Other DRS users will use the metadata you provide to decide whether or not to view or download your work. Incomplete or inadequate metadata may discourage users, but providing good metadata will give users a reason to view your work.
  • The metadata upload form gives you the option to assign viewing and metadata editing privileges to your file, which is something only you can determine.

How can I efficiently upload multiple files at once?

For now, the upload tool only allows users to upload a single file at a time. DRS staff can create a custom upload tool to deposit large sets of similar files for projects or communities that need to upload many files on a regular basis.

I have a lot of files and I already have all of my metadata in a spreadsheet (or a database, or a text file...); can I use this metadata?

Yes! Users or communities that have a project with many files and recorded metadata can work with DRS staff to upload the project files and metadata using a one-time custom deposit procedure.

If you have many files, with or without metadata, please contact DRS Staff to get started.

How much data can I upload to the DRS?

Right now there is no limit on data storage. This will change as the library and University work to create a reasonable model for sustainable storage. We anticipate that each University department will have a basic allocation of DRS storage space. Once that allocation is full, the department may continue to contribute to the DRS, but an annual storage fee will be implemented. Specific groups and individuals can also request additional storage space for special projects. This additional space might be paid from grant funds, or might be allocated by the university. These charges, and the limits on storage space, will reflect the costs of data storage.

How can I get help uploading files and entering metadata?

Northeastern University Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group offers regular training sessions and individual consultations to help you get started uploading files and entering metadata. We can also train students or other collaborators working with you on larger projects or data uploads. Digital Scholarship Group and library staff are happy to answer questions if you get stuck.

For detailed instructions on uploading and entering metadata, please visit the DRS User Guide.

For more information about training sessions, please visit the Digital Scholarship Group workshop website: http://dsg.neu.edu/events/

For more information about starting large DRS projects, please contact DRS Staff.

Getting things out of the DRS

How can I get access to the things I’ve put into the DRS?

As the original uploader, you will have perpetual access to your uploaded files through your My DRS dashboard.

I know I uploaded a file but now I can’t find it; what should I do?

All objects uploaded by you will be listed, in order of deposit, on your DRS My Deposits page. If you cannot locate a file, contact DRS Staff for assistance.

I have colleagues at other institutions working with me on a project. Can they access things in the DRS?

All publicly visible materials in the DRS can be viewed and downloaded by users from inside or outside the Northeastern community. If you have materials for which access is limited to your research group or department, then your colleagues outside Northeastern would need to have sponsored accounts to be formally included in the research group.

Please contact Information Technology Services for more information regarding sponsored accounts (http://www.northeastern.edu/its/services/sponsored/).

For more information on setting up research and collaborative groups using Grouper, please visit the DRS User Guide.

Can I put links to things in the DRS on my personal web site or on a project page?

Yes, you can distribute links to your files, or to files deposited by others. Files deposited in the DRS are assigned a persistent URL, which you can find by scrolling to the bottom of a file's full description page.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all files in the DRS are publicly available. When signed in, you will have access to files others may not. You can still link to these files, but not everyone will have permission to view or download the file.

You may also share Sets, which are curated compilations of DRS files. When you create a Set you have the option to make it public, or to grant access to certain groups. Use the link for the Set page, which looks like this: https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/sets/neu:5m60qx55t, to share your Set of files.

Finding things in the DRS

How can I see what’s in the DRS?

Visit https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/ to search and browse all publicly available files. Access to most restricted materials is determined by your membership in a department, community, or collaborative group, so sign in with your myNEU username and password to view more than just the publicly available content.

Can things get lost in the DRS?

The DRS itself does not lose things, though you might have trouble finding something if you forget file details, like title or creator name. However, each item carries many different pieces of metadata (for instance, the name of the contributor, their department affiliation, the date of upload, the file format, or the title. If you know one or more of those pieces of information, you should be able to find any item through a keyword search or by browsing content.

If you have trouble finding a file that you deposited, sign in to the DRS and visit the My Deposits tab on the My DRS dashboard to view a list of your uploaded objects.

Storage and Preservation

How long will things in the DRS be kept?

Every effort will be made to permanently archive objects that are stored in a contributor’s system-generated Smart Collections (Research Publications, Datasets, and Presentations), in an academic department’s system-generated Theses and Dissertations collection, and University-produced public assets (documents such as newsletters and meeting minutes) that are stored in departmental collections. Unmanaged content (objects that are stored in personal collections created by a contributor that are not connected to any other department or group collection) will be kept for the foreseeable future. There is no deaccession policy for unmanaged content. Unmanaged content may be removed at the user’s discretion. Under some circumstances, managed content will be removed from view, but to avoid loss of the historical record, all such transactions will be noted in the metadata, which will not be removed from view.

The library’s methods of storage and data management may change over time with evolving technologies, but the intention is that DRS data should be kept available for as long as the university community persists. Future DRS policy development will consider long-term digital sustainability methods.

How does the DRS deal with changes to file formats over time?

Where possible, files will automatically be converted to new formats (retaining the older version, if necessary). It may not be possible to convert file formats that have become obsolete to a currently viable format, and in those cases the file will be retained in its original state. To use files in older formats, it may be necessary to find a system that can emulate the older computing hardware and software environment in which the original file operated. We recommend using standards-based formats wherever possible, and converting high-value data to standard formats before committing it to the DRS.

For more information about file formats and preservation, review our Policy on Format Support and Preservation.

DRS Architecture

What is the difference between an institutional repository and a digital repository?=

An institutional repository typically maintains objects relating to the official record of the institution it supports, including historical photographs, newsletters, and publications. A digital repository stores and maintains a broader range of materials from various sources. A digital repository, like the DRS, can serve as an institutional repository, while also storing and supporting works that are not traditionally part of the institution’s official record.

What is an “object”?

An object is a discrete digital asset. For the purposes of the DRS, an object can be considered a single file, like a PDF or a JPG. Objects are often also referred to as items, files, materials, or resources.

How does the DRS work?

The foundation of the DRS is an open source repository framework called Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture), which is used to store, maintain, and distribute digital objects, like files and collections. Fedora also stores the relationships between objects to create a linked data environment. The DRS user interface was created using Samvera (formerly known as Hydra), which is a series of tools and technologies that processes the objects stored in Fedora so users can interact with them in a meaningful way. Samvera uses Ruby on Rails to program, Solr to index, and Blacklight to enable searching and browsing.

Fedora Hydra and the DRS2.jpg

More information about Fedora can be found here: http://fedora-commons.org/

More information about the Samvera project can be found here: https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/samvera/Samvera

What is metadata?

Metadata is information associated with an object. An object's administrative metadata determines who can access the object, or when it can be accessed, in the case of an embargoed object. Technical metadata stores practical information about an object, such as when it was deposited into the DRS, the file format, or the file size. An object's descriptive metadata (such as, title, author, and description) enables it to be discovered when searching or browsing the DRS, and it is also the information that displays when viewing details about an object.

DRS Descriptive Metadata

The DRS uses two descriptive metadata standards: MODS & Dublin Core. Dublin Core is a widely used descriptive metadata standard that uses a very basic set of elements to describe an object (Title, Creator, Subject, Description, Publisher, Contributor, Date, Type, Format, Identifier, Source, Language, Relation, Coverage, and Rights). Every object in the DRS has a Dublin Core record.

Although Dublin Core metadata records are required in the DRS, the primary standard used to store an object’s descriptive metadata in the DRS is MODS. MODS is also a widely used descriptive metadata standard, and it is far more expressive than Dublin Core, with 20 top level elements, and many more subelements and attributes. The information stored using MODS is displayed when you view the full details for an object. MODS metadata is made available for other repositories to harvest for discovery in other repository systems, like the Digital Public Library of America or Digital Commonwealth.


More information about Dublin Core can be found here: http://dublincore.org/

More information about MODS can be found here: http://www.loc.gov/standards/mods/mods-overview.html

Automatic Metadata

Some administrative and technical metadata will be automatically extracted from your file when it is uploaded. For example, file names, the date of upload, EXIF and IPTC data, and other information can be automatically extracted from your files.

Metadata Help

Digital Scholarship Group and Library staff can help make the metadata creation process more efficient and can put you in touch with experts in cases where additional subject knowledge is needed. If you are experiencing trouble entering metadata for your files, please contact DRS Staff for assistance. Visit the DRS User Guide for more information on how to update metadata for your files.

Does the DRS have an API I can use?

For departments and groups that would like to store objects in the DRS and display those objects in a customized web interface, Fedora offers a user-friendly API to extract your data from the DRS. Existing projects have successfully expressed DRS objects in customized websites built using Wordpress (a popular web blogging and content management system used by millions) and Omeka (an easy to use web publishing and exhibit platform used by many cultural heritage institutions and digital scholarship projects).

If you would like to take advantage of the DRS API using Wordpress or Omeka, or another platform, we would be happy to work with you to develop your project. Please contact the [| Digital Scholarship Group] for more information.

How does indexing work?

How are files indexed in the DRS?

The descriptive metadata (title, creator, description, for example) for every DRS file is indexed using Solr. The full text of a deposited document is indexed at the time the file is uploaded, making the file easier to discover in the system.

Are my files indexed in Google?

Yes. The metadata for objects that are publicly available in the DRS is harvested by a few select resources, including Google. Select DRS materials are also harvested by Digital Commonwealth and the Digital Public Library of America (via Digital Commonwealth).

IRis & the DRS

How is the DRS different from IRis?

The DRS is different than IRis in a few ways:

  • IRis has been primarily used to store PDFs and other document files (though it can support other material types). The DRS supports the storage of documents, photographs, audio, and video (including streaming audio and video), and support for other material types can be customized.
  • It is not necessary to create a new account in the DRS (just use your myNEU username and password to sign in).
  • IRis was developed using Digital Commons, which is proprietary repository software. The new DRS uses Fedora, an open-source repository system with extensive community support. Fedora is more powerful and configurable than IRis, and enables us to support a broader range of materials in more flexible ways than we could with IRis.

What will happen to my usage statistics from IRis?

Usage statistics for file downloads and page views will not carry over from IRis to the DRS. The DRS will reliably record statistics for file downloads and page views and present those statistics on the file depositor’s My DRS page. A summary of monthly usage statistics will be emailed to the file depositor. In the future, a historical record of the statistics collected for migrated IRis files may be available on the file depositor’s My DRS page.

Help and Other Resources

Who can I contact for help with My DRS, uploading, searching, or any other service, feature, or policy mentioned in this FAQ?

Please contact DRS staff (Library-Repository-Team[@]neu.edu) for for help with the DRS.

If you encounter a problem while using the DRS, please describe your problem using the library's Report a Problem form.

Where can I find resources to help me become an expert user?

More resources, like a DRS User Guide and DRS policies, and information about future DRS project development can be found on the Digital Scholarship Group's DRS resource page: http://dsg.neu.edu/resources/drs/

DRS     https://repository.library.northeastern.edu
Resources     http://dsg.neu.edu/resources/drs
Contact     Library-Repository-Team[@]neu.edu