Tag Archives: ORBilu

A month of ORBilu, a new publications server

Three weeks ago, my university launched a new publications server called ORBilu, which replaced the old one, publications.uni.lu. The reasons for this change are quite evident: the old server contained almost 10 000 references, but was very archaic.

Screenshot from 2013-05-05 20:38:25
Screenshot from publications.uni.lu

With ORBilu you have far more options. The program gained one’s spur at the University of Liège, where it is used since several years.

Screenshot from 2013-05-05 20:41:22

The reference for the same article on ORBilu

ORBiluprovides a far more detailed information sheet for every publication. Each article gets its specific permalink. You can add the pdf to the reference. And you have a little button ‘Statistics’, which allows you to see how often the reference is visualised, how often the article has been downloaded, etc.

In general, measuring the “impact” of what the researchers are doing seems very important to the people behind ORBi: you are able to see the most visualised authors of the university, the most downloaded authors of the university, the most downloaded papers of the university…1.  The initiators of ORBilu point to three major advantages:

“Visibility: by entering the details of your publications, and thanks to indexing by Internet search engines, your research will be visible to other scholars in your field. Wouldn’t it be great to go to Google Scholar, Scirus, etc. and find references to your work?
Accessibility: by including the full-text of your publication, your work isn’t locked away behind a pay wall. Anyone, anywhere can read it.
Impact: if your work is being read, then it is more likely to be cited. Isn’t the main problem with impact the fact that your article or book chapter can’t be found or accessed?”2

What I really like with ORBilu is the fact that the launch of the platform went with a clear engagement of the university in favour of Open Access. In March 2013, Rolf Tarrach, our rector, was among the first signatories of iloveopenaccess.

So I am quite content that the University of Luxembourg set up this initiative, but four points are still problematic.

  • ORBilu is the seventh place where I put my bibliography: I have my personal webpage, my personal space on the history department webpage,  Di-fusion – the publication platform of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), my former employee – , my personal space on the Institut d’Etudes Européennes webpage at the ULB, Academia, the Facebook for academics and ResearchGate, another Facebook for academics. None if these services do allow any automatic exchanges. Theoretically, for every new publication, I have to publish the references on seven sites.
  • My reference manager is Zotero and obviously all my publications are saved into Zotero. ORBilu does not allow a direct integration of these references. You have to use the BibTex format, which does not work perfectly. ORBilu has quite a limited set of formats that are supported (Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, EndNote X, SAO/NASA ADS and BibTeX). They are mainly used in natural sciences and are not very widespread in the humanities. In my history department, Zotero is by far the main reference manager.  Moreover, the majority of these formats are integrated into commercial services such as Elsevier3 , which seems contradictory with iloveopenaccess. It is also impossible to export data from ORBilu to Zotero.
  • The catalogues of the Luxembourgish libraries are closely interconnected. Results on bibnet.lu do however not refer to ORBilu. This is a pity for two reasons. First, it would facilitate the work of the National Library, which has to catalogue “toutes les publications éditées au Luxembourg (…) ainsi que les publications parues à l’étranger en rapport avec le Luxembourg”4. Second, people searching on bibnet.lu could immediately download the publication if available. At the ULB, Di-fusion is nicely integrated into the general catalogue of the university.
  • Finally ORBilu has a very classic approach to what academic work is today: impossible to introduce expositions such as ILux, blog posts such as this one or documentaries such as Call Her Madam. As ORBilu will be used for internal and external evaluations, this disqualifies people trying to “publish” their results on innovative supports.


  1. In a fascinating post, Melissa Terras showed how blogging and tweeting about your publications impact your visibility in such repositories []
  2. http://orbilu.uni.lu/ []
  3. This article in the Guardian illustrates why open access and Elsevier are quite antagonistic, to put it mildly. []
  4. http://www.bnl.public.lu/fr/bibliotheque/missions/index.html []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as an historian at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a social history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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