A new sense of confidence in the repository community

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On Wednesday we held a workshop on Communication Skills for Effective Advocacy. We were very lucky to have Deborah Dalley, a freelance consultant who has been working in the field of training and development for the last 20 years, lead the activities for the day. Her background includes the food industry, the Criminal Justice System and Higher Education, for the last ten years she has been a freelance consultant working primarily in the public sector.

During the day we focused on how we can mobilize the sources of power we have to influence people. We also looked at the difference between influence and manipulation, we agreed we all wanted to stay on the side of influence as manipulation, whilst effective in the short term, rarely works in the long term.

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We looked at different sources of power in relation to influence: power that comes from the position you hold; power that comes from outlining risks of not acting; power that comes from being expert in a particular area, power that comes from our connections to someone who can exert influence on our target audience (ie you need information from X for a report you are writing for the CEO who holds the power), power that comes from association (this is the type of power products mobilise when they get celebrity endorsements), power derived from tangible reward as a result of action, power that comes from personal relationships with our target audience and finally power that comes from having information and in particular having the right information and using is appropriately, not hoarding it to gain power. It was really valuable to articulate this, which most of us are aware of but tend not to consciously examine when setting out to influence others.

We found that we all use different sources of power in different situations, but that in most cases we use the source of power that would most influence us in a given situation.  It was really helpful to be reminded that when trying to influence someone’s behaviour –get them to deposit their materials in the IR – it’s important to focus on them and what will motivate them.

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All the sessions throughout the day were extremely useful, but one that was especially so was our session on objection handling. I was struck by the fact that we instinctively react when faced with conflict, with either fight or flight, and that it takes most people 10 seconds to start to react rationally in these situations.  This really resonated for me, having worked in customer service in the past I have managed my fair share of conflict.  Having key phrases or strategies on hand to help you get through the first 10 seconds can be really helpful to be able to handle objections positively and not react defensively. Again I found that articulating this process was really useful, this is something I am aware of but rarely consciously consider. As a result of this session I feel more strongly armed to diffuse potential conflict and influence.

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Later in the day our panel of experts, Bill Hubbard, Jackie Wickham and Miggie Pickton handled common objections that repository mangers hear on a daily basis.  In addition to a bank of tried and tested responses to common objections, what we all took away from this session was a sense that in the year since we first ran this event, we have made huge progress. We have a real sense of confidence in our position as a community and there is a real sense that the changes we have been working to implement are inevitable. One attendee said:

“I left with a new sense of confidence in our advocacy strategies and some specific actions to improve our pitch”

You will see from the pictures included that our venue was really bright and colourful, the pictures were too nice not to share with you! We were really impressed with the surroundings despite the fact that it poured with rain for most of the day – classic Manchester weather I’m led to believe.

JISCrte and a subject-based repository

As the newest member of the RSP team I have been spending some time visiting the six projects involved with the JISC Repositories: take-up and embedding strand of the JISC Information Environment 09-11 Programme.

Jackie blogged about these projects earlier in the year and I thought it would be useful if I provided some detail about each project visited and progress made thus far.

My first visit was to Middlesex University where I met Sharon and Jade, members of the project team working on MIRAGE (2011) – a subject-based repository of more than 100,000 medical images.

MIRAGE (Middlesex medical Image Repository with a CBIR ArchivinG Environment) aims to enrich the current repository with two key features:

  • a 3D viewer
  • a plug-in for uploading image queries

Feedback from their users indicated that the visualization of 3D images and uploading queries were essential for their needs and MIRAGE (2011) aims to integrate various types of textual metadata and ontology in addition to image data.

Further information on MIRAGE (2011) can be found here, this includes presentations, conference papers, and details of the open source software and tools used.

The project hashtag is #jiscrte and the MIRAGE project runs from February through November 2011.

Attitudes to Open Access – survey update

You may remember that the RSP is encouraging UK repository staff tocarry out surveys of researchers in their institutions to gauge attitudes to open access and the repository. I blogged about this some weeks ago: Unlocking attitudes to open access. Currently there are 23 institutions who taking part in this which should create a substantial body of evidence. The first results came in this week from Sally Rumsey at the University of Oxford. We’ll be working over the summer to collate the responses and produce a report.

If you’ve been thinking about participating but haven’t got round to it, there’s still time to run it. We’ve extended the deadline for submitting results to the end of July. All the information you need to carry out the survey is here: Nationwide survey – Open Access and you can publicise it using our customisable poster/flyer Survey poster . Do contact me if you have any queries – jacqueline.wickham@nottingham.ac.uk.