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

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