Green mandates and gold choices

My doctoral degree arrived by mail this past week in my office at the Centre for Research Communications, where I have been working for two months now as an Open Access Adviser for the Repositories Support Project (RSP).  Thinking back of the whole PhD process I believe that one word describes every part of it well, the adverb “amazingly”! When you are a PhD student, first, you are amazingly poor; second, amazingly enough, you can survive without sleeping; and, third, conducting research and writing a dissertation about open access is amazingly interesting.

I started my PhD in September 2007 at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, a prestigious library school with a long history. My plan was to study the open-access movement with Associate Professor Robin Peek, an open-access advocate and one of the first signatories of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI).

The title of my dissertation is, “The Influence of the National Institutes of Health Public-Access Policy on the Publishing Habits of Principal Investigators“. The mandatory National Institutes of Health (NIH) public-access policy requires that the NIH-funded principal investigators (PIs) submit to PubMed Central (PMC) immediately upon publication the peer-reviewed copy of their article, which will then become available for public access through PMC no later than after a twelve-month embargo period. The policy has been effective since April 7th, 2008 (Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008).

The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the effect of the NIH public-access policy on the NIH-funded principal investigators’ publishing decisions.

Read more of this post

How embedded and integrated is your repository?

Last Friday the Repositories Support Project (RSP) held the free event “How embedded and integrated is your repository” at the Nottingham Conference Centre. This was an end-of-project event that aimed to showcase and share with the repository community the results of six JISC-funded tasks that participated in the “JISC Repositories: take-up and embedding” (JISCrte) project.

Since I joined the RSP team this January, this event was both the first RSP event I attended and also the first where I had some small organizing responsibilities and I have to admit I really enjoyed every aspect of it!

Image

To begin with, I was not aware of all the six projects and their details; EXPLORER (De Montfort University), Hydra (University of Hull), RADAR (Glasgow School of Art), MIRAGE (Middlesex University), NECTAR (University of Northampton) and eNova (led by the Visual Arts Data Service, the University of the Creative Arts, and the University of the Arts London) and I was impressed by how much these groups have achieved in such a short period of time, less than a year.

Throughout the whole day I felt that the repositories’ technical difficulties were a prominent topic for discussion. The speakers described how they were able to manage these obstacles and exchanged ideas and tips with the attendees. It is astonishing how little funding, technical and staff support some repositories’ managers have available, but how much they are able to carry out with the little sources they have- kudos to all of them!

There were also two guest presenters in the event, who are not related to the JISCrte projects, but their work is relevant to the general idea of embedding repositories. The first was the RSP Coordinator Jackie Wickham, who presented on the embedding repositories guide and assessment tool and William Nixon from the University of Glasgow, who discussed issues on embedding exemplar.

Image

Despite of the previously snowy night and the cold weather, the event was well-attended. The day concluded with a group activity monitored by the RSP Open Access Adviser Laurian Williamson [email: laurian.williamson@nottingham.ac.uk], who was the coordinator of the six JISCrte projects and the event planner. In this breakout session the delegates reflected on some of the issues that were covered that day and they found useful. The topics that emerged were: the variety of ways advocating and marketing for the institutional repository; the difficulties met with the technical skills and reaching the PVC agenda; and, the importance of MePrints and the practice of embedding repositories.

All presentations can be found here.

A visit to the Digital Repository Federation in Japan

 

Sapporo from Mount Moiwa

Last week, I was at the University of Hokkaido, in Sapporo, Northern Japan at the invitation of the Digital Repository Federation. The DRF is a federation of universities and research institutions which have established institutional repositories. I met with them to share information about the work of the RSP and the DRF. It was a fantastic opportunity to forge links with colleagues working in digital repositories in Japan and my hosts made me very welcome. My thanks to the DRF and the University of Hokkaido for their hospitality and friendliness. Read more of this post

New RSP Team member

This month, Nancy Pontika (on the right) joined the team. Nancy has a thorough background in Open Access information, having worked as an Assistant Editor and Project Manager with the Open Access Directory. Nancy has taught on courses for information professionals, as well as providing workshops and one-to-one consultancy services. Nancy recently gained a PhD in Information Science with a specialism in Open Access and the effects of public access policies, from Simmons College, Boston MA.

The rest of the team from left to right are: Laurian Williamson, Open Access Adviser with responsibility for the JISC Repositories Take Up and Embedding Projects; Jackie Wickham, RSP Project Coordinator and Bill Hubbard, RSP Project Director.

RSP support is available for all HEIs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Consultancy visits are available to institutions with long-standing repositories as well as to those institutions in the start-up phase through our programme of repository health-checks. Please contact support@rsp.ac.uk or 0845 257 6860 for more information.

Unlocking attitudes to Open Access – survey results

You may remember earlier this year that the RSP and UKCoRR invited UK repositories to carry out a survey of academic staff with a particular focus on informing advocacy plans and “joined up” institutional developments for Open Access in higher education institutions. The questions focused on attitudes toward open access and institutional repositories. The RSP blogged about this in March.

The results of this survey have now been collated and there are some interesting results. Unsurprisingly (other surveys have shown this), the majority of academics are in favour of open access:

85% strongly or mildly in favour of open access in principle

80% strongly or mildly in favour of open access repositories

69% strongly or mildly in favour of publishing in OA journals

However, rather less reported actually acting upon this: 59% make some of their publications available in the institutional repository but 41% don’t make any available. This is despite the fact that 73% were aware of their institution’s repository. Question 7a gave respondents the opportunity to give reasons why in their own words. The results of this were categorised and the most common reasons were:

Haven’t published yet/material not suitable (99)

Copyright concerns (94)

Lack of time/haven’t got round to doing it (58)

Lack of knowledge (48)

Use other method (28)

The questions on copyright and versions provided some encouraging results – the majority, 70%, thought that authors should own the copyright to the material and although we know that most authors sign away their copyright, it’s interesting to see that they don’t necessarily think that is a good thing.  The fact that 86% kept a copy of their own author, peer reviewed final version is also supportive to self archiving. In addition, 77% felt that this version was acceptable for deposit in the repository. These latter responses help to counter some commonly held beliefs that authors don’t keep a copy of their work and that only the publisher’s PDF is worthy of sharing.

Twenty institutions participated with a total of 1676 respondents. A summary of the results is attached here Attitudes to OA – Basic summary report. A fuller report is in progress which will be published in due course.

Murder at Miskin Manor



Well actually, it was the RSP Autumn School and there weren’t any murders. But I did see a trail of what looked like blood in the corridor outside the conference room! And the Manor is reputedly haunted – was anyone in the bar between 12 midnight and 1am?

I digress. The RSP Autumn School took place this week from 7th – 9th November at the said Miskin Manor near Cardiff. Over three days about 40 participants and speakers gathered to discuss the themes of the school: bringing the emphasis back to open access and demonstrating value to the institution. In the last year or so, repositories have become more embedded in their institutions, in particular with their contribution to research evaluation and reporting. The school focused on how we can continue to demonstrate the value of the repository to the institution without losing the impetus to make that research open access.

In this post I want to highlight a number of key points that emerged over the three days:

  • David Prosser from RLUK, in the keynote address, showed how academic libraries have done an excellent job of providing seamless access to online subscription journals. Everything is now on the researcher’s desktop. However, this has hidden the costs and made it more difficult to demonstrate the need for open access. A suggestion was made that we have a “Closed Access” week just before Open Access week where access to subscription journals is turned off!
  • Universities have a real appetite for business intelligence about how they are doing in comparison to other institutions and about trend in research performance. We can provide this using bibliometric tools and repository statistics. Niamh Brennan demonstrated how Trinity College at the University of Dublin has done this using some really stunning visualisation tools. She also tested our knowledge of wizarding spells from Harry Potter! She’s kindly agreed to run an online RSP master class on this – keep an eye on the RSP events page for more details.
  • Cava, cakes and chocolate. These are not enough – well not enough to make sustainable changes in academics behaviour, although they can provide a short term incentive to deposit.
  • Open Access enhances the impact of research. “Impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and economy” (RCUK). Josh Brown described some, as yet unpublished, findings from three studies commissioned by JISC on behalf of the Open Access Implementation Group which looked at the benefits of open access to the private sector, the public sector outside HE and the voluntary and community sector.
  • The importance of good narratives and anecdotes to demonstrate the value of open access generally and the repository’s role in particular. The studies that Josh described provide case studies which can be used by repository staff but many people have examples of how exposure by the repository has benefited the institution and individual academics e.g. through increased opportunities for collaborative research.
  • The need for sustainable support services for repositories. Edina at the University of Edinburgh have been commissioned by JISC to develop UK RepositoryNet, a socio-technical infrastructure to support repositories. Theo Andrew from Edina and Veronica Adamson from Glenaffric (via Skype) ran a workshop to gain input from the delegates as to what they wanted from such a service.
  • We all felt enthused about bringing the emphasis back to open access. The final sessions on Wednesday morning were devoted to this. Lots of original ideas were generated as to how we can make it happen. These will be the subject of a future blog post.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend three days with old and new colleagues discussing these very important issues. Thanks to all the speakers and participants for making it a really worthwhile event.

Slides and notes will be made available over the next week on the event page.

Guest post: OA week buddies: putting the Repository at the centre of an institutional research information system

This guest post is authored by Paul Stainthorp, Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Lincoln.  As announced last week, during October 2011 the RSP sponsored ten UK repository staff  ‘buddy visits’ as part of our Open Access Week initiative. Further information available from here. Paul, Bev, and Melanie visited the University of Glasgow.

Theme: Repositories and REF preparation

As promised, here’s the first of three blog posts about this week’s trip to the University of Glasgow, sponsored by the RSP for Open Access week 2011, on the theme of Repositories and REF preparation.

Old university library

Three of us made the trip north: myself, the Library’s Repository Officer, Bev Jones, and the University of Lincoln’s new REF Co-ordinator, Melanie Bullock. We were received and looked after very generously by the team at Glasgow, including Susan AshworthMarie Cairney, Morag GreigValerie McCutcheon, Robbie Ireland and William Nixon. Thanks to them all for making our visit pleasant as well as useful.

Over the course of a morning, we discussed many aspects of research information management, the REF, and developments to our own institutional repositories (and repositories in general).

I made copious notes, and reading them back I thought it might be useful to identify and list some of the factors that seem to be necessary (or at least desirable) in successfully placing the repository at the heart of an institutional research information/administration system – what makes it possible for the repo to play its part?

Before started: this is my own interpretation, filtered through my brain, notes, and prejudices. It doesn’t necessarily bear any relationship to the real situation at the University of Glasgow. Nor, for that matter, at the University of Lincoln…

Here’s a checklist of what’s making repo-REF integration work for Glasgow:

  1. Good data. Because it’s not about your component systems, it’s about your data. Decide what data you have/what data you need and what you need to do with that data – then any tool that matches those requirements is the right system for you. You can always change your systems, but your data are here to stay. Design your system around your data, not the other way around. It’s necessary also to decide early what information to store, then to defend that decision vigorously – best to store the complete record of a publication or a project, NOT the filtered, controlled, ‘for-public-consumption’ version of it.
  2. Good relationships: between the library, research/enterprise, ICT services, schools/faculties, etc.: but not only at an operational/service/development level; it’s essential to have joined-up thinking about research data and systems at a management–strategic level. Glasgow seem to have this in spades.
  3. An idea of where you’re headed. Glasgow have received JISC funding to do interesting development work across a number of projects (the most notable in 2009/10 being the Enrich project), but haven’t let the funding distort their overall plan – they haven’t lost sight of the overall aim. While the outside world sees separate projects [until our visit I was personally bewildered about how it all fit together…], Glasgow have the bigger picture in mind! It’s the Research and Enterprise Operations Manager‘s job to make sure it all hangs together, working closely with the repository manager and the head of ICT services (see 2).
  4. A good development culture. The way Glasgow manage their development depends on the bit of the system in question. They have developers in each bit of the university (and centrally as part of ICT services). It’s important to recognise the [occasionally attractive] danger of rushing off and building something to meet a local need, while at the same time jeopardising the bigger picture for research administration.
  5. Taking your users’ needs seriously. Glasgow have a rigorous approach to stakeholder analysis and ‘workload modelling’. Quite often, people working in universities aren’t used to being asked what they actually need a system to do. Genuine user engagement has paid dividends.
  6. Mandatory data processes – not just mandated deposit of the final publication. Achieved through diktat of the research strategy committee; the attitude of senior management is “…if it’s not in Enlighten, it doesn’t exist!”. High-level advocacy win! The respository/research information system plays a part in the staff appraisal process and for SMT planning. “Advocacy is beating people with a big carrot.”
  7. Internal miniREF-type exercises. Glasgow had a big internal drive, and more than 1,200 staff responded. Suddenly, people became much more interested in the quality of their own data(!) and in the completeness of their publication record. Having information about all known publications  in one place has increased interest in metrics from the repository. Publication “healthcheck” exercises – informing a university-wide publication policy.
  8. Useful reporting tools – make it as easy as possible for your users to get data out of the system, via intuitive, meaningful export tools, and in useful formats (Excel output is always good!). Basically, reduce the temptation for people to build their own local silos of data by making it more attractive for people to invest in the repository/institutional research system, safe in the knowledge they can always get the data displayed and/or exported the way they want it.
  9. A secret agent in every faculty. Offer training and additional administrative rights to research administrators in academic departments – encourage a culture of devolved/outsourced deposit, advocacy and administration. Allow administrators to ‘impersonate’ academic authors for deposit/editing. Use bibliographic services (e.g. the Web of Knowledge) to send alerts to schools as a trigger to initiate deposit; allow schools to use these alerts/feeds to create records en-masse through filtering. Learn to talking in a language appropriate to different subject areas. Let the schools/faculties add value to the repository!
  10. Time and a head start. Glasgow’s overall research information infrastructure is well-established. Probably 90% of the system was in place 2 years ago. While we don’t have a time machine(!) we should at least recognise that proactive, consistent, ongoing development is far better than a reactive approach (“Quick! Build me something to deal with the REF!”). Invest in the repository/research information system now, and you’ll reap the benefits when an information need does arise in future.

That’s it for now – except for some links:

Guest author: Paul Stainthorp

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.