The latest RSP residential course has now come to a close, after three packed days in the beautiful setting of Armathwaite hall in the Lake District.
Delegates were collected from Penrith and taken by coach to the Hall where we sat down to a delicious lunch in the restaurant overlooking Bassenthwaite lake and the standard was set for the three days of excellent food, wine and conversation.
After lunch and registration Jackie Wickham welcomed the delegates, and we broke the ice by filling out our ‘RSP Dance Card’. Delegates were up on their feet to take note of the names of the representatives from each institution and the repository software they used. Based on my own card the split was around 20 Eprints repositories to 10 D-Space repositories, an imprecise measure but interesting to see the increasing presence of D-Space among the UK Repository community. Many of the delegates exclaimed that they were surprised that there were so many D-Space users present.
We were lucky enough to have Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Salford, provide us with our keynote address. Martin spoke enthusiastically about Open Access and its power to drive knowledge. He pointed out that fundamentally what drives academics is giving away, and the measure of success for an academic, citation, is a measure of the extent to which they are able to give away their intellectual property. He suggested that in the future the debate would focus more on whether we should have national IRs or institutional IRs, and also closer on the horizon: the long term curation of research data. He also put out a call to the community to develop credible studies that support our claims of the wider societal benefits of OA. Similar arguments exist in related areas such as IBMs move to Open Software, and he suggested that in these increasingly difficult economic circumstances we find ourselves we need to strengthen this evidence base. The question and answer session that followed was equally animated and saw Martin describe a possible future for commercial publishing in a world which is moving towards OA. Martin explained that he saw a very important role for publishers in supplying highly specialised value-added services such as bespoke bibliographic review services.
Gareth Johnson gave an entertaining perspective as a graduate of our Summer School, and a candid ’warts and all’ view of the challenges he has faced in his repository. We finished off day one with a light hearted debate – Green or Gold. Which route will turn out to be the most successful in increasing open access to research? – in which Emily Nimmo stepped into the breach in Bill’s absence and put forward the case for Green Open Access and Dominic Tate of Royal Holloway put forward the case for Gold Open Access. Following some very well argued points, including those from the floor, Green came out victorious.
Day two opened with an overview of the activities of RSP and three presentations which drew out themes running throughout the Winter School; CRIS systems, the REF and research data. Keith Jeffrey gave an excellent presentation on Institutional Repositories and CRIS taking in a huge amount of information and covering amongst others CERIF-CRIS and euroCRIS. Integration with CRIS systems was clearly a topic at the forefront of many delegates’ minds. Next came Mark Cox from the R4R: Readiness 4 Ref project who described the work they have been doing with euroCRIS in developing a schema, CERIF4REF, which will help eliminate the duplication of effort in producing the data necessary for the REF. He also highlighted that they are working with Southampton, Edinburgh and Kings to develop plug-ins for E-Prints, D-Space and Fedora. Bringing the morning activities to a close was Theo Andrew representing the Repository Junction project. He gave a very entertaining presentation based on a loose analogy between repositories and grain silos which had us all giggling.
The Repository Junction project is doing some very interesting work addressing the issue of multiple authored papers, mandated open access and the resultant multiple deposits. Repository Junction puts forward a broker model which could simplify this process and provide one consistent deposit process, and based on the reaction to this among the delegates this is something that the community would enthusiastically adopt.
In the afternoon we heard from Balviar Notay who gave us an overview of the JISC take up and embedding programme and then we split into groups for an afternoon workshop which looked at four case studies of embedding repositories: Aberystwyth’s Cadair, Glasgow’s Enlighten, White Rose Consortium’s White Rose Research Online and Newcastle University’s My Impact. Each provided a very different route to embedding the repository in its institutional context and was an excellent catalyst for discussions in the groups on issues delegates were grappling with and the sharing of best practice. We closed the day with another excellent meal and discussions continued late into the evening over drinks.
Friday morning began with a workshop led by Ruth Murray-Webster, Lucidus Consulting, on measuring performance and demonstrating value and it was clear that while the repository can contribute to the aims of an institution in a number of ways proving the causal link between the repository and the result is a real challenge.
There were a number of really valuable suggestions and examples shared and it became clear that while measuring performance is vital to demonstrating value, in the absence of a national picture or benchmarking system to compare with this information is much less useful for evaluating performance.
The Winter School drew to a close with a case study on reaching researchers through their data: a DAF case study, from Miggie Pickton and an overview of the Research Communications Strategy from Amanda Hodgson which again drew out the themes evident throughout the event, advocacy and how to successfully reach out to your research community, how to and who should manage and curate research data and attitudes to Open Access.
The Winter School has yet again shown how valuable it is for repository practitioners to get together with sufficient time to really share experiences, developments and build a community. As one delegate put it:
“This has to have been one of the best work-related courses I’ve attended. Not only do I feel that I have taken on board an enormous amount of information that is directly relevant to my job – and intellectually stimulating to boot – but I feel I have made contact with a supportive network of colleagues. All this, perfectly organised, and a faultless, fabulous environment, too. Outstanding. Thank you!”
Presentations from the event can be found here.
For an alternative take on the Winter School see Gareth Johnson’s blog.