Guest Post: Hull and White Rose Research Online

This guest post is authored by Diane Leeson, Content and Access Team Leader, Library and Learning Innovation, University of Hull. 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. Diane visited the repository team at the University of  Leeds, one of the partners in White Rose Research Online (WRRO). The University of Hull have recently launched their new digital repository, see Hydra in Hull.

Theme – Mandates and Policies and Digitisation

My proposal for a ‘buddy’ visit had been around wanting to find out more from those who have developed repository policies/mandates and also in issues around governance of their repository, including how those policies are embedded.  I had no particular institution in mind so it was suggested that we could visit the University of Leeds who are one of the partners in White Rose Research Online (WRRO) and White Rose eTheses online repositories (WREO) along with the universities of York and Sheffield.   While admitting they were not especially strong on policies we decided that it would still be a useful visit and it turned out to be a good general exchange of experience.

So it was only a short train trip and walk from the city centre before I arrived at the building leading onto the Brotherton Library on 14th October.  I was welcomed by Jodie Double, Digital Content and Repositories Manager, and also met some other members of the team.

Firstly, Jodie, Gemma Storr and I spent some time in general discussion.  I was interested to hear that WRRO was established in 2004 and includes research outputs for the three institutions and paved the way for the sister service WREO containing etheses from the 3 partners.  We discussed both of these in relation to the University of Leeds only.  They do have a mandate for deposit of etheses so students have to provide these, which are received as a disk containing a PDF and accompanying paperwork.  The team then upload the theses and publish them on their repository.  This is very similar to what we do at Hull.  (At York and Sheffield the students do self-deposit).  Leeds is just about to start adding more retrospective theses and intend to digitise in-house using the equipment within their new Digitisation Studio.  One element which we both agreed on was that students were not always clear about the implications of publishing their theses on a repository and in some cases do not even realise that this is what will happen until they suddenly come across it via Google.  Perhaps supervisors could advise students about this when they are preparing their theses?

In the case of research there is no specific policy which states that all research has to be included on their repository.  Staff are supposed to do this, but it is not enforced.  Staff are generally positive about wanting to make their research more visible, but are often worried about copyright.  Where full text is not uploaded there is sometimes just a metadata record included and a link can be made to the publisher version, but this will reduce access to only those people entitled to use it.  Researchers at Leeds use the Symplectic system (a publications database) to enter the details of their publications.  Repository staff then add these items to WRRO.  If the full text is not the publisher’s version they will add a standard front page to clarify identification – useful if the user is accessing the pdf directly from Google for example.  They will also deal with copyright issues, requesting permissions from publishers, and recording responses.  Gemma was able to give me a closer look at the various processes involved.  This whole area around publishing research is of interest to us at Hull since we are in the early stages of this process.  We have just implemented a new Research Information System (Converis) and my team within the Library will play a role in validating entries and uploading any full text submitted to our repository.  So it was useful to exchange information about this and discuss any considerations and issues.   It was particularly interesting to hear about the copyright aspects since this will also be a concern to us, and I liked the idea of attaching copies of publisher responses to the record in the repository and this might be something we could adopt ourselves in future.

A related area of open access concerns digitisation of existing collections to make them available online to foster new research.  (This is separate from course readings digitised under the CLA licence which we are both doing already).  Therefore, it was very interesting to have a look at the new Digitisation Studio which has just been set up at Leeds and managed by the repositories team.  I spoke with Beccy Shipman who will be coordinating work in the studio and was able to see the equipment, such as the scanner shown below, which will be used.

Apart from the digitisation of print theses, the main emphasis will be on picking out items from special collections to begin with.  This also includes dealing with any related copyright issues.  At Hull we have not yet ventured into this area of work, although we have spent some time identifying potential collections for digitisation.  Seeing the facilities at Leeds brought home the scale of the investment and commitment needed if such work is to be done in-house.  This will be useful to feed back to colleagues at Hull.

Overall it was a useful visit providing the opportunity to see how things are done at Leeds, to make new contacts and to share some common experiences.  WRRO is a more mature repository than our own and so the work around publishing research outputs was especially useful.  In particular, there was mention of considering having a standard time period for making items live in order to manage expectations.  This is not something we have done, but it might be worth looking into in the future.  While Leeds is also a larger institution than Hull it was clear that their staffing resource for repository work is considerably greater than ours, although they are working with three separate repositories against our one and running copyright and digitisation services as well.  We do expect that staffing will be an area we will need to address in the future as our repository work continues to grow.

Finally, I would like to express many thanks to everyone I met at Leeds who took the time to show me their work and share information.  They are most welcome to come and have a return visit to us in Hull if they would like to do so.  Thanks also to the Repositories Support Project for sponsoring this visit.

Gemma, Beccy, Jodie & Diane

Author: Diane Leeson, Content and Access Team Leader, Library and Learning Innovation, University of Hull

Guest Post: Dial M for Mandate

This guest post is authored by Tracy Kent, Digital Assets Librarian, University of Birmingham. 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. Tracy visited the repository team at the University of Bath.

Theme – Mandates and Policies

Dial M for Mandate

Implementing the perfect Mandate is like trying to carry out the perfect murder. You simply need the means, the motive and the opportunity to kill off Dr Nocites or Miss Obscurity. A mandate, clearly worded, understood by all and fitting easily into the daily workflow would ensure that  Dr Nocites was no longer around. Instead he or she would gain a new identity as Dr Highimpact or Miss Wellread. So, with a visit supported by RSP, I went on an investigatory visit to the University of Bath where a mandate was implemented during 2011. Intensive questioning with straight answers being sought would, it was hoped, provide some clues as to how the perfect Mandate would be implemented.

The Means to implement a Mandate
The University of Bath is a research active institute with high ranking departments . Like Birmingham,  researchers at Bath publish c4000, quality, peer reviewed articles, per year but felt  that their work was not being discovered, read or cited as it could. With a repository  in place (see Opus) and some full text content already available, there was a means to open the door to showcasing more full text from Bath.  After discussions within research committees and the identification of a Champion in the Pro Vice Chancellor for Research it was deemed appropriate to implement a mandate which would encourage Bath researchers to make use of the repository and get their work more visible and discoverable to the outside world. The buy in by Senior Management helped to emphasise the contribution researchers make to the University’s Mission.

With some mandates already in existence (see ROARMAP) Library staff at Bath, working very much in partnership with the Research Office, came up with a carefully crafted mandate. The mandate has an impressively clear title which leaves you in no doubt about what it is:

“University of Bath Open Access Publications full text deposit mandate” (see

The mandate is wider than some I have seen in that it includes “papers from published conference proceedings (subject to copyright provisions)”.  Perhaps this is clue to the success of the mandate by targeting specific formats which are well utilized by researchers within an institution which has a large science and engineering discipline. Including this type of material has, anecdotally, increased the visibility of work from the repository, benefitting both the University and individual researchers.

It is worth mentioning though that, when questioned, Staff confessed to not over-strictly enforcing the policy, feeling that the softly softly approach was more likely to keep academics on side and showing impact would have a greater effect along with decreasing library budgets providing opportunities for putting content into repositories.  There is also a concern not to breach any publishers’ rules on systematic harvesting of text.

Katie, Tracy, and Kara

The Motive for implementing a Mandate

There is a clear motive for the implementation of mandates by Bath with reported increases in visibility, citation rates, usage and impact of research outputs. With the REF (Research Excellence Framework) waiting in the wings there is much talk on the grapevine about outputs and impact. What better way to raise your profile than make available, where appropriate, the full text of your articles to kill off Dr NoCites and replace him (or her) with Dr Highimpact.

Kara Jones, Repository Manager at Bath, was quite clear about part of the motive for its initial success. A date was identified for the introduction of the Mandate in June 2011. From this date the mandate was to be in force. Therefore researchers knew their content was required from this date going forward. This prompted many to give older items but the repository was to be populated with recent items that the researchers were working on. This helped researchers to work with the Library with their most current research. Some researchers took the opportunity to provide older works and, indeed, following the implementation of the request a copy button (see opportunity) requests for older works was also a motive. This was developed with weekly use of Web of Science alerts. These identify current articles by Bath authors. This evidence of research outputs ensures that the bibliographic details are correct (ensuring accurate citations), are transferred to the repository and the authors approached for the full text, where appropriate. The SHERPA/RoMEO database is the well used informant as it outlines publisher policies and which versions of documents can be uploaded to the repository. This ensures the Mandate is targeting current research being undertaken by researchers and helping them move toto ensure current content is populated in the repository.

Library staff were motivated by the need to produce quality documentation produced by Kara and her assistant, Katie. The documentation focuses on the deposit workflow, including handy flow charts to show researchers how the mandate fits into the general workflow (see Opus Quick Guides). The guides help their authors benefit from using the repository as a tool for managing and promoting their research outputs. There is also an extremely useful, and well written, guide on good practice for improving citations to research outputs which draws attention to the Mandate and the repository. All clear signs that there is a serious motive here.  The motive is underpinned by the guidance on when and why author addendums (at the publishing stage) should be used. Further, they make available links to, and hard copies of, the Versions Toolkit for authors, researchers and repository staff developed by LSE.  This provides, amongst other things, top tips on version control and dissemination of research outputs.

Bath make full use of the eprints functionality within Opus to enhance the mandate by encouraging “in press” as part of the workflow of research outputs. Thus Bath researchers are encouraged to use the repository as part of the publications workflow. This ensures that the mandate of immediate deposit is kept to and the access settings can be dealt with later to maximize the use and impact of their research.

To ensure the full effect of a mandate is realized individual records in Opus have a cover sheet to ensure correct bibliographic citations and recognition of University of Bath outputs. This is supplemented with file names for all theses records starting with Uni_of_Bath_Somerset2011 for greater impact. This has been appreciated by researchers at Bath and ensures users are in no doubt where the work comes from. Clever!

The Opportunity to implement a Mandate

A number of opportunities arose which has brought research outputs to the fore. With the import from their existing research publications database, records were immediately exposed, using OAIPMH standards, to the various search engines around.  Library staff took the opportunity to attach “Request a copy” button against every non-book publications from 2008 . This meant that, should anyone wish to receive the full text a request came, via the Library, to the author for action. When this was introduced at the same time as the Mandate, with the opportunity to raise the profile of researcher outputs, the number of requests  received was quite phenomenal. The team at Bath receive each request direct to the Library and then  forward each request to authors so are able to monitor the requests.  On analyzing the requests Bath did raise doubts about the authenticity of some of the requests. Part of the analysis suggested that users felt “request a copy” was a machine to machine transaction. Bath then changed the name of the request a copy to “contact the author”. Same process but with a different disguise. This has resulted in higher quality requests and opportunities for academic staff to develop relationships with users requesting their materials helping Dr Nocites reinvent himself as Dr HighImpact.

Whilst having the means, motive and taking the opportunities, the perfect implementation was made possible by  strong advocacy from staff in the Library repository Team.  Kara and her team of two dedicated staff, planned to meet, via research boards, all research managers from each Faculty to develop a network of Champions to ensure the continued support for the mandate. The relationships with active researchers has proved invaluable in enabling the deposit workflow to be fine tuned and to match what the researchers require and clearly demonstrated with the revision to the request  a copy button for the mandated research outputs. This was also (perhaps)  helped by the University of Bath being voted the University of the Year by the Sunday Times (September 2011)!

There are many challenges to introducing a perfect mandate which the visit to Bath drew to my attention.  Birmingham certainly have some of the means (repository, local champions, etc),  strong  motive (wanting high impact, increased citations, etc) and an opportunity (use of functionality in eprints). The key appears to be good advocacy – whether developing champion networks, using improved request a copy button or providing detailed documentation. Together with careful wording of the mandate to ensure researchers want to fulfil their obligations and fill up the repository then a perfect mandate could be implemented. Dr Nocites is no more and Dr High impact reigns.

Author: Tracy Kent, Digital Assets Librarian, University of Birmingham