Guest Post: Keeping up the Momentum: Breaking the Stop Start Cycle of Repository Use

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.

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One Response to Guest Post: Keeping up the Momentum: Breaking the Stop Start Cycle of Repository Use

  1. REF’S FINE, BUT IF YOU WANT OA, UPGRADE TO AN ID/OA MANDATE

    1.
    Harnad, S. (2011) Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior Through University and Funder Mandates. JEDEM Journal of Democracy and Open Government 3 (1): 33-41. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/22401/
    ABSTRACT: The primary target of the worldwide Open Access initiative is the 2.5 million articles published every year in the planet’s 25,000 peer-reviewed research journals across all scholarly and scientific fields. Without exception, every one of these articles is an author give-away, written, not for royalty income, but solely to be used, applied and built upon by other researchers. The optimal and inevitable solution for this give-away research is that it should be made freely accessible to all its would-be users online and not only to those whose institutions can afford subscription access to the journal in which it happens to be published. Yet this optimal and inevitable solution, already fully within the reach of the global research community for at least two decades now, has been taking a remarkably long time to be grasped. The problem is inaction because of widespread misconceptions (reminiscent of Zeno’s Paradox). The solution is for the world’s research institutions and funders to (1) extend their existing “publish or perish” mandates so as to (2) require their employees and fundees to maximize the usage and impact of the research they are employed and funded to conduct and publish by (3) depositing their final drafts in their Open Access (OA) Institutional Repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication in order to (4) make their findings freely accessible to all their potential users webwide. OA metrics can then be used to measure and reward research progress and impact; and multiple layers of links, tags, commentary and discussion can be built upon and integrated with the primary research.

    2.
    How to Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/369-guid.html
    SUMMARY: Research funder open-access mandates (such as NIH’s) and university open-access mandates (such as Harvard’s) are complementary. There is a simple way to integrate them to make them synergistic and mutually reinforcing:
    Universities’ own Institutional Repositories (IRs) are the natural locus for the direct deposit of their own research output: Universities (and research institutions) are the universal research providers of all research (funded and unfunded, in all fields) and have a direct interest in archiving, monitoring, measuring, evaluating, and showcasing their own research assets — as well as in maximizing their uptake, usage and impact.
    Both universities and funders should accordingly mandate deposit of all peer-reviewed final drafts (postprints), in each author’s own university IR, immediately upon acceptance for publication, for institutional and funder record-keeping purposes. Access to that immediate postprint deposit in the author’s university IR may be set immediately as Open Access if copyright conditions allow; otherwise access can be set as Closed Access, pending copyright negotiations or embargoes. All the rest of the conditions described by universities and funders should accordingly apply only to the timing and copyright conditions for setting open access to those deposits, not to the depositing itself, its locus or its timing.
    As a result, (1) there will be a common deposit locus for all research output worldwide; (2) university mandates will reinforce and monitor compliance with funder mandates; (3) funder mandates will reinforce university mandates; (4) legal details concerning open-access provision, copyright and embargoes will be applied independently of deposit itself, on a case by case basis, according to the conditions of each mandate; (5) opt-outs will apply only to copyright negotiations, not to deposit itself, nor its timing; and (6) any central OA repositories can then harvest the postprints from the authors’ IRs under the agreed conditions at the agreed time, if they wish.

    3.
    Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1). pp. 55-59. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac..uk/18514/
    ABSTRACT: Among the many important implications of Houghton et al’s (2009) timely and illuminating JISC analysis of the costs and benefits of providing free online access (“Open Access,” OA) to peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journal articles one stands out as particularly compelling: It would yield a forty-fold benefit/cost ratio if the world’s peer-reviewed research were all self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA. There are many assumptions and estimates underlying Houghton et al’s modelling and analyses, but they are for the most part very reasonable and even conservative. This makes their strongest practical implication particularly striking: The 40-fold benefit/cost ratio of providing Green OA is an order of magnitude greater than all the other potential combinations of alternatives to the status quo analyzed and compared by Houghton et al. This outcome is all the more significant in light of the fact that self-archiving already rests entirely in the hands of the research community (researchers, their institutions and their funders), whereas OA publishing depends on the publishing community. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that this outcome emerged from studies that approached the problem primarily from the standpoint of the economics of publication rather than the economics of research.

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