RSP R4R Workshop

On Monday we gathered in London’s British Computer Society’s headquarters to discuss the outputs of the JISC funded Readiness for REF (R4R)  project and Measuring Impact under CERIF project.   Both projects focus on the upcoming REF evaluation which has become the focus for many of us in the repository community, and also for research managers.

Delegates at the R4R workshop enjoying a coffee break

The day began with Richard Gartner, from the Centre for eResearch at Kings College London, introducing us to the R4R project. R4R worked to address issues identified by UK HEI as they prepare for the REF and provide a consistent data model for REF elements that would provide for interoperability. The R4R project has produced a CERIF4REF schema which you can access here. In addition to this they have developed DSpace , Eprints and Fedora  plugins which were all demonstrated.

We also heard form Tahani Nadim from Goldsmiths College, who completed one of the case studies the projects undertook to examine the feasibility of mapping current data and practices to the CERIF4REF schema. Other case study participants were the University of London, Kingston University, University of Reading, University of Leicester, University of the Arts and University of Ulster. The case studies can be accessed here.

Before we got into the details of the Plugins we heard from Prof. Dr. Keith Jeffery, president who gave an excellent introductory presentation to the CERIF data model which underpins both the MICE and R4R projects.  You can find out more about CERIF from Keith’s presentation and the euroCRIS  website.

You can access the slides and notes from our break out discussions on the event webpage.

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.

DSpace workshop, Friday 20 May, Edinburgh

RSP ran an introductory training workshop in Edinburgh on Friday, bringing together a small group of repository practitioners with a range of experience from those wishing merely to fill in gaps in their knowledge to complete beginners.   Although DSpace users are still in a minority in the UK as compared with Eprints, I was surprised to hear that the majority of delegates had not accessed any DSpace training until the RSP workshop.  Our training took place in Edinburgh University Library and, when we weren’t concentrating on our screens,  we enjoyed lovely views over the meadows through the full height widows of the training room.

Our trainers, Rob Ingram and Ianthe Hind, provided us with a thorough introduction to working with DSpace and a good grounding in the basics. In addition to this there was plenty of time throughout the day to have group discussions where delegates shared their experiences and addressed particular issues with answers coming not only from the trainers but also the group.  This provided a really excellent balance for the different needs of the delegates. Towards the end of the day we enjoyed an interesting discussion on the use of statistics in DSpace with general agreement from the room that unique downloads are one of the best measures of success for a repository and also that community by community statistical comparisons can be a useful tool to generate healthy competition between depositing departments and more interest in the repository as a whole. Ianthe also pointed us to Graham Trigg’s talk at OR10 on enhancing statistics  which gives a really good overview of the options available.

One issue that came up for most institutions was the need to integrate with their CRIS. As we get closer to the REF this is an issue that is likely to come up for most repository managers and administrators.  There is work underway exploring best practice methodologies and approaches for this issue for example the JISC funded RePOSIT project, and readers may be interested in attending the upcoming RSP event ‘Repositories and CRIS: working smartly together’   in July this year.

‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education

As you saw from my last post, RSP is having a busy time of it with events this week and as promised here is an overview of our most recent event ‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education’ on Monday the 28th March 2011.

Andy Appleyard, Head of Document Supply & Customer Services at The British Library, gave our Key Note address and used EThOS performance data to compare the progress to date with the original aims and objectives of the service. He began by giving us ‘EThOS by numbers’  and some of the key figures I noted were: 45,634 theses available for direct download; 282,120 downloads to date equates to 13.5m pages; 901 orders for hard copies; 45,634 theses available for direct download;282,120 downloads to date (as of 21 March) and 63,355 registered users in 267 countries around the world.

I was also very interested to hear the demand for Microfilm (from the ‘70’s) compared with digital today.  Microfilm theses saw an average annual demand of 10,000, compared to that for today’s digital services which average at 140,000 per year. This difference in scale of the audiences reached by different mediums I felt really showed how Opening up Access to research can affect its impact and reach.

Andy also described planned changes to the current business model for EThOS such as handing back control to subscribers over their subscription fees. Currently user demand drives where fees are spent. Further there are plans to disaggregate the digitisation aspect of EThOS to central British Library digitisation services. Planned changes are set to be implemented in the next academic year (September 2011) and final details of the future model will be released in May 2011.

Next we heard from Kathy Sadler who reported back on the findings of the short JISC funded project ‘Influencing the Deposit of Electronic Theses in UK HE’.

Kathy’s presentation, and the report it was based on, provided a really interesting snapshot of current practices with regard to the deposit of E-Theses and also planned changes to practices. It also enjoyed a really impressive response rate from UK HEIs. For example this graph from her presentation shows that 63% of institutions surveyed accept electronic deposit of theses, with 6% exclusively so.


Whereas this graph from her presentation shows the plans to shift towards e-deposit and the timescales attached. Given that those reporting no plan to shift also reposted the reason for this was they only saw 10 theses deposited a year,  she concluded that within five years less than 0.05% of theses submitted across the UK will be stored solely in print format. This was very heartening to hear.

Kathy also provided a handout which pointed to some very useful guidance documents developed by the UCL team which you can find here.

Ginevra House, formerly of the British Library but now a freelance researcher, ethnomusicologist and an expert on Indonesian Gamelan music, brought our first session of the afternoon to a close by reporting on the findings of a JISC funded survey carried out in 2009 by the British Library into the impact of EThOS.


Ginevra House (Image: Authors own)

She summarised the survey results, highlighting the many perceived benefits, as well as providing some constructive criticisms offered by users to help improve the service. Before breaking for coffee there was time for some questions and answers where delegates were able to discuss their experiences and feedback to the EThOS team.

Following a break for coffee, biscuits and networking, we concluded the day with a panel session including representatives from each of the four case studies investigated by the UCL study. William Nixon of Glasgow University, Dr Nicky Cashman of Aberystwyth University, John Aanonson from Brunel University and Chris Keene from the University of Sussex all presented on their own unique experiences of implementing electronic theses deposit at their Institution and answered questions from the audience.

This event seemed to come at a time where repository managers are beginning to really grapple with the issues around E-Theses, registration for the event filled up very quickly and feedback on the day was really positive with delegates noting its relevance to the issues they are currently facing.

You can download all the presentations from the day and the UCL handout here.

You can also follow the Tweets from the day uder #rspetheses and #rsptheses


SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators- A Day in the Sun

Image authors own : Water Feature in Aston Business School Conference Centre

It has been a busy week for RSP with the ‘SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators’ event on Thursday (24.03.11) and  ‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education’ on Monday (28.0311). It’s set to continue to be busy too as we are holding ‘RoMEO and CRIS in practice‘ on Friday (01.04.11)!

I’ll start with a quick run through of ‘SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators’, and post later about our Etheses event. We  had a beautiful day for the event with the sun shining on us in the lovely rock garden courtyard at Aston Business School Conference Centre as you can see from my picture of their water feature.  The day started off with Jane Smith from the SHERPA Services team giving us a run through of some of the newer features of RoMEO before a question and answer session with herself and the rest of the team. We broke for coffee and returned for an entertaining presentation from Andy Gray from SOAS, but formerly of University of the Arts London, on his experiences of working in Arts repositories and the particular copyright this field can throw up. And true to his Artistic background he gave a really colourful and beautifully illustrated presentation, You can download all the presentations from the day here.

Next up was Charles Oppenheim, one of the UK’s foremost experts on Copyright. Charles regaled us with interesting anecdotes and answered a host of questions from the audience.

Following a delicious lunch, and networking in the sun lit courtyard we returned for the afternoon programme which kicked off with another case study, this time from Valerie Spezi of Leicester research Archive focusing on their workflow and how they use RoMEO as part of their copyright checking. Valerie also gave the team a lot of useful ideas from her wish list of RoMEO services.  We were next to hear from Rachel Proudfoot of the White Rose Consortium, however due to the UCU strike action that day Rachel was unable to join us. We were really quite lucky that this was the only disruption the strike action had on our event, other’s were less lucky. Jane Smith stepped into the breach and led the session as Rachel had planned it. We split into groups and discussed the four scenarios provided and shared experiences about contacting publishers.

We broke again for even more coffee and biscuits before returning to hear about the future of RoMEO from Peter Millington and Azhar Hussain.  Peter described future features and Azhar introduced the delegates to the work he has been doing planning for the sustainability of RoMEO in a future where public funding is increasingly scarce. It was clear from the lively question and answer session at the end of the day that the delegates were understanding of the challenges faced by the team and were very happy to engage on ways forward. What was very clear was the RoMEO is vital to the activities of repository staff on a day to day basis and that they are very invested in its continuing future.

You can read the SHERPA Services team’s blog on the day here.

RSP Winter School

The latest RSP residential course has now come to a close, after three packed days in the beautiful setting of Armathwaite hall  in the Lake District.

Delegates were collected from Penrith and taken by coach to the Hall where we sat down to a delicious lunch in the restaurant overlooking Bassenthwaite lake and the standard was set for the three days of excellent food, wine and conversation.

After lunch and registration Jackie Wickham welcomed the delegates, and we broke the ice by filling out our ‘RSP Dance Card’. Delegates were up on their feet to take note of the names of the representatives from each institution and the repository software they used. Based on my own card the split was around 20 Eprints repositories to 10 D-Space repositories, an imprecise measure but interesting to see the increasing presence of D-Space among the UK Repository community. Many of the delegates exclaimed that they were surprised that there were so many D-Space users present.

We were lucky enough to have Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Salford, provide us with our keynote address. Martin spoke enthusiastically about Open Access and its power to drive knowledge. He pointed out that fundamentally what drives academics is giving away, and the measure of success for an academic, citation, is a measure of the extent to which they are able to give away their intellectual property.  He suggested that in the future the debate would focus more on whether we should have national IRs or institutional IRs, and also closer on the horizon: the long term curation of research data. He also put out a call to the community to develop credible studies that support our claims of the wider societal benefits of OA.  Similar arguments exist in related areas such as IBMs move to Open Software, and he suggested that in these increasingly difficult economic circumstances we find ourselves we need to strengthen this evidence base.  The question and answer session that followed was equally animated and saw Martin describe a possible future for commercial publishing in a world which is moving towards OA. Martin explained that he saw a very important role for publishers in supplying highly specialised value-added services such as bespoke bibliographic review services.

Gareth Johnson gave an entertaining  perspective as a graduate of our Summer School, and a candid ‘warts and all’ view of the challenges he has faced in his repository.  We finished off day one with a light hearted debate – Green or Gold. Which route will turn out to be the most successful in increasing open access to research? – in which Emily Nimmo stepped into the breach in Bill’s absence and put forward the case for Green Open Access and Dominic Tate of Royal Holloway put forward the case for Gold Open Access. Following some very well argued points, including those from the floor, Green came out victorious.

Day two opened with an overview of the activities of RSP and three presentations which drew out themes running throughout the Winter School; CRIS systems, the REF and research data. Keith Jeffrey gave an excellent presentation on Institutional Repositories and CRIS taking in a huge amount of information and covering amongst others CERIF-CRIS and euroCRIS. Integration with CRIS systems was clearly a topic at the forefront of many delegates’ minds. Next came Mark Cox from the R4R: Readiness 4 Ref project who described the work they have been doing with euroCRIS in developing a schema, CERIF4REF, which will help eliminate the duplication of effort in producing the data necessary for the REF. He also highlighted that they are working with Southampton, Edinburgh and Kings to develop plug-ins for E-Prints, D-Space and Fedora. Bringing the morning activities to a close was Theo Andrew representing the Repository Junction project. He gave a very entertaining presentation based on a loose analogy between repositories and grain silos which had us all giggling.

The Repository Junction project is doing some very interesting work addressing the issue of multiple authored papers, mandated open access and the resultant multiple deposits.  Repository Junction puts forward a broker model which could simplify this process and provide one consistent deposit process, and based on the reaction to this among the delegates this is something that the community would enthusiastically adopt.

In the afternoon we heard from Balviar Notay who gave us an overview of the JISC take up and embedding programme and then we split into groups for an afternoon workshop which looked at four case studies of embedding repositories: Aberystwyth’s Cadair, Glasgow’s Enlighten, White Rose Consortium’s White Rose Research Online and Newcastle University’s My Impact. Each provided a very different route to embedding the repository in its institutional context and was an excellent catalyst for discussions in the groups on issues delegates were grappling with and the sharing of best practice. We closed the day with another excellent meal and discussions continued late into the evening over drinks.

Friday morning began with a workshop led by Ruth Murray-Webster, Lucidus Consulting, on measuring performance and demonstrating value and it was clear that while the repository can contribute to the aims of an institution in a number of ways proving the causal link between the repository and the result is a real challenge.

There were a number of really valuable suggestions and examples shared and it became clear that while measuring performance is vital to demonstrating value, in the absence of a national picture or benchmarking system to compare with this information is much less useful for evaluating performance.

The Winter School drew to a close with a case study on reaching researchers through their data: a DAF case study, from Miggie Pickton and an overview of the Research Communications Strategy from Amanda Hodgson which again drew out the themes evident throughout the event, advocacy and how to successfully reach out to your research community, how to and who should manage and curate research data and attitudes to Open Access.

The Winter School has yet again shown how valuable it is for repository practitioners to get together with sufficient time to really share experiences, developments and build a community. As one delegate put it:

This has to have been one of the best work-related courses I’ve attended. Not only do I feel that I have taken on board an enormous amount of information that is directly relevant to my job – and intellectually stimulating to boot – but I feel I have made contact with a supportive network of colleagues. All this, perfectly organised, and a faultless, fabulous environment, too. Outstanding. Thank you!”

Presentations from the event can be found here.

For an alternative take on the Winter School see Gareth Johnson’s blog.

Does it make a difference? Researching and evaluating the impact of repositories and OERs on teaching and learning

Readers of this Blog might be interested in the following event

“Does it make a difference? Researching and evaluating the impact of repositories and OERs on teaching and learning”

A JISC funded event, in collaboration with SCORE and LORO.

Presentations by David White and Melissa Highton of the TALL team at the University of Oxford, and Helen Beetham, e-learning consultant and member of the JISC evaluation and synthesis team. Participants may take part in the poster session during lunch or send in a presentation or recording to be included in the virtual goody bag.

Date and Venue:

23 March 2011, SCORE, East Perry Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Attendance is free and lunch will be provided. Numbers are limited so early booking is recommended. Further details, programme and booking form at

Any questions, contact

Presentations by David White and Melissa Highton of the TALL team at the University of Oxford, and Helen Beetham, e-learning consultant and member of the JISC evaluation and synthesis team. Participants may take part in the poster sesssion during lunch or send in a presentation or recording to be included in the virtual goody bag.


UDORA Briefing Day

The RSP team recently took part in a briefing day organised by the  University of Derby to kick off a pilot project for their new Open Access Repository, UDORA.

Richard Finch, Academic Services Manager for the University Library, welcomed everyone and provided us with the background to the project. Jackie Wickham from RSP provided an overview of Open Access, our colleague, Jane Smith from   Romeo and  Juliet then introduced to ROMEO and JULIET and described how they can be used to identify what is required by in relation to making  publications Open Access and also the policies of publishers in relation to this.  Copyright issues and publisher’s policies had been identified as a primary concern for participants going into the briefing day and they seemed pleasantly surprised to hear that many publishers allow some form of Open Access deposit.

In addition to the contributions from RSP, ROMOE and JULIET the briefing day also included a session from BioMed Central Open Repository who gave a walkthrough of the Open Repository software that participants in the Pilot would be using.

As a new member of the  RSP team it was really interesting to hear the concerns of academics in relation to Open Access firsthand, and I was very pleased to note the enthusiasm with which the attendees engaged with the both the benefits of depositing their work in an Open Access Repository and also the challenges to doing so. The event was quite informal and questions were welcomed throughout the event.  Questions revealed the natural concerns of the academics dealing with the issues surrounding Open Access, many for the first time. One questioner was concerned that providing Open Access to his publications prior to publication might encourage plagiarism, or the appropriation of their underlying idea.  This led to an interesting discussion which concluded that providing any access to your research (through traditional publishing models or Open Access) opens you up to these risks, but depositing pre-prints could allow you to stake your claim earlier in the process and actually help to tackle this issue. Other questions focused on copyright issues and publisher policies and participants were encouraged to make use of  JISC’s copyright toolbox and the ROMEO and JULIET services. Discussion wasn’t limited to obstacles however, and during the break I joined some early career researchers enthusing about the potential citations implications for Open Access and the moral issues surrounding opening up research.

As a new member of the team I found this event to be a really interesting introduction to the RSP project and the issues and challenges our community face on a day to day basis.  I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the pilot project and progress of the UDORA repository and wish the team there every success!

For further information regarding the UDORA Repository please contact Melanie Keady: