Guest Post: Keeping up the Momentum: Breaking the Stop Start Cycle of Repository Use
October 26, 2011 1 Comment
This guest post is authored by Robin Armstrong-Viner, Head of Collection Management, Information Services, University of Kent. 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. Robin visited the repository team at the London School of Economics (LSE).
Themes – Embedding, Managing, Preparing for REF and Software
Like many repositories the Kent Academic Repository (KAR) is experiencing something of a mid-life crisis. Established in May 2006, it played an important role in the University of Kent’s submission for the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008. KAR remains the most complete record Kent’s research outputs and is heavily used by a number of Schools. However there are others who prefer to record their publications through internal databases and to make the full text available through subject repositories.
Mindful of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), and keen to ensure that Information Services do all we can to support the Kent’s submission in 2014, I attended the Repositories Support Programme (RSP) Readiness for REF (R4R) Workshop in September. The whole day was brilliant but I was particularly struck by Neil Stewart and Dave Puplett’s description of the mini-REF exercise they undertook at the London School of Economics (LSE). It seemed that LSE and Kent were taking similar approaches to their repositories and the REF and so I was really pleased when RSP agreed to sponsor a buddy visit for me to find out more.
Embedding KAR in the Research Workflow
Like KAR, LSE Research Online (LSERO) has been established for some time and I was keen to learn how the team had been so successful in maintaining its profile with academics. Dave and Natalia Madjarevic (Neil’s successor) shared their advocacy strategy with me, highlighting the need to identify and target both early adopters and new researchers and demonstrate maximum benefit for minimum effort on the part of those researchers.
The LSE approach is to make each stage of the process as simple and clear as possible for academics. There is a single point of contact for researchers while RSS feeds allow departmental, individual and LSE Experts web pages to be updated automatically. LSERO is also harvested by key subject repositories including Research Papers in Economics (RePEC). All this, together with a Twitter feed, means that LSERO plays a key role in disseminating LSE research.
Talking to Dave and Natalia reminded me how important it is to demonstrate KAR’s impact. They share metrics including citations, downloads and page views with academics. Showing that including an academic’s research outputs in LSERO improves their ranking in Google Scholar is another way of encouraging deposit. The team also make sure they keep researchers up to date throughout the deposit and review process.
Managing the Distributed KAR Team to Meet the Researchers’ Expectations
Responsibility for KAR is shared between the Academic Liaison, Digital Resources & Serials and Metadata & Processing teams within Information Services at Kent. Natalia explained that LSE have a similarly distributed team with the E-Services team focusing on advocacy, copyright liaison and strategy and the Bibliographic Services team entering and checking the accuracy of the metadata. A key advantage of involving a wider team has been that they have been able to maintain service levels even at busy times.
Dave emphasised how important it was that LSERO was seen as a core role of the Library (and not just the E-Services team), including by the Director. Other teams have been updated on progress through a series of lunchtime seminars, and Dave has been careful to give credit to the wider team for the success of LSERO.
Preparing to Support Kent’s REF Submission
Kent is planning a mini-REF exercise in 2012 so I was interested to know what had made the exercise at LSE so successful. Dave explained that the content, consistency and accuracy of the LSERO data had impressed the Research Division. By generating reports of research outputs by department and highlighting that the they had the skills needed to deliver excellent quality data the team revealed the value of involving the Library. They had also used research managers within individual departments to ensure that as many research outputs eligible for that REF had been captured within LSERO.
Making the Most of the EPrints
Having recently moved to Kent from Aberdeen I’m new to both KAR and EPrints and wanted to be sure that we are getting the most from the software. Both Kent and LSE are looking forward to implementing the new features in EPrints 3.3, particularly the plugins to support the REF. The focus remains making it as easy as possible for academics to record their research outputs and increase the level of full text available.
I was surprised to learn at the R4R Workshop that LSE does not have a Current Research Information System (CRIS). Kent is a pathfinder on the JISC Research Management and Administration Service (RMAS) and I wanted to explore how Dave would approach a similar project (which might include a CRIS or CRIS-like functionality). He stressed that the completeness, quality and volume of the data in LSERO would have to be taken into account when assessing the potential benefits of implementing a CRIS, and that in the short term developing LSERO was the Library’s priority.
Keeping up the Momentum
Use of KAR has fluctuated since RAE 2008 and I asked Dave and Natalia how they plan to build on the success of the mini-REF exercise. There are constantly monitoring deposit rates from departments to ensure that LSERO remains a current and accurate record of the LSE research outputs. This strengthened my resolve to put in place suitable strategies for the development and support of KAR – huge thanks to Dave, Natalia, Helen Williams and all at LSE and RSP who made my visit possible, informative and enjoyable.
Author: Robin Armstrong-Viner, Head of Collection Management, University of Kent.