Promoting open access (OA) scientific publication practices to health sciences librarians, researchers and practitioners

The Network of Collaboration Between Europe & Latin American-Caribbean (NECOBELAC)  countries  is a project that aims to promote open access publishing in Europe and Latin America. The project is sponsored by six institutions; Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Italy, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) in Spain, University of Nottingham in the UK, Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde (bvs) in Brasil, Universidad Nacional De Colombia  in Colombia, and Universidade do Minho in Portugal. In the past, these partners have developed a collaboration scheme and spurred enthusiasm and interest about the open access publishing options in the scientific community of both continents.

Due to the variety of the scientific writing practices in Europe and Latin America, the NECOBELAC project works in the two geographical areas and spreads the word about the publishing options enabled by the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in relation to open access. The project has established two different types of training activities; the first (T1) is a training course where the participants are expected to become trainers in their affiliated institutions and educate others on the available open access publication practices. The second (T2) includes workshops or meetings that aim to replicate activities and develop wide open access advocacy strategies. The success of the NECOBELAC project stems from the interrelation of the activities that take place in the two continents, and the bidirectional approach that is followed to spread best practices and strategies both in relation to the teaching styles and the implementation of advocacy plans for open access.

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Japan and UK in agreement

In January, I wrote a post about my visit to the Digital Repository Federation in Japan. We wanted to formally mark the visit as the beginning of an ongoing relationship for our mutual benefit. So we agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding – we also invited UKCoRR (United Kingdom Council of Research Repositories) to be a partner.

The Memorandum includes a commitment to

  • sharing experience and expertise
  • inviting and possibly sponsoring representatives from partners to participate in RSP and DRF events
  • joint efforts to seek funding and/or support

It is intended that forms the basis for future cooperation. The RSP and the DRF have submitted a joint poster proposal to Open Repositories 2012 about the visit and the memorandum.

A visit to the Digital Repository Federation in Japan


Sapporo from Mount Moiwa

Last week, I was at the University of Hokkaido, in Sapporo, Northern Japan at the invitation of the Digital Repository Federation. The DRF is a federation of universities and research institutions which have established institutional repositories. I met with them to share information about the work of the RSP and the DRF. It was a fantastic opportunity to forge links with colleagues working in digital repositories in Japan and my hosts made me very welcome. My thanks to the DRF and the University of Hokkaido for their hospitality and friendliness. Read more of this post

RSP Embedding Guide

This guide has been published by the Repositories Support Project and will help institutions to get the best value from their institutional repositories through integration with other university systems, particularly research management systems. This can bring advantages to institutions, by:

  • Helping in planning for the REF and reporting
  • Promoting the university’s research in a global context
  • Increasing engagement with businesses and the community
  • Widening access to the university’ research generally

It is aimed at repository staff but will be of interest to other groups such as academic librarians and research management staff.

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Murder at Miskin Manor

Well actually, it was the RSP Autumn School and there weren’t any murders. But I did see a trail of what looked like blood in the corridor outside the conference room! And the Manor is reputedly haunted – was anyone in the bar between 12 midnight and 1am?

I digress. The RSP Autumn School took place this week from 7th – 9th November at the said Miskin Manor near Cardiff. Over three days about 40 participants and speakers gathered to discuss the themes of the school: bringing the emphasis back to open access and demonstrating value to the institution. In the last year or so, repositories have become more embedded in their institutions, in particular with their contribution to research evaluation and reporting. The school focused on how we can continue to demonstrate the value of the repository to the institution without losing the impetus to make that research open access.

In this post I want to highlight a number of key points that emerged over the three days:

  • David Prosser from RLUK, in the keynote address, showed how academic libraries have done an excellent job of providing seamless access to online subscription journals. Everything is now on the researcher’s desktop. However, this has hidden the costs and made it more difficult to demonstrate the need for open access. A suggestion was made that we have a “Closed Access” week just before Open Access week where access to subscription journals is turned off!
  • Universities have a real appetite for business intelligence about how they are doing in comparison to other institutions and about trend in research performance. We can provide this using bibliometric tools and repository statistics. Niamh Brennan demonstrated how Trinity College at the University of Dublin has done this using some really stunning visualisation tools. She also tested our knowledge of wizarding spells from Harry Potter! She’s kindly agreed to run an online RSP master class on this – keep an eye on the RSP events page for more details.
  • Cava, cakes and chocolate. These are not enough – well not enough to make sustainable changes in academics behaviour, although they can provide a short term incentive to deposit.
  • Open Access enhances the impact of research. “Impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and economy” (RCUK). Josh Brown described some, as yet unpublished, findings from three studies commissioned by JISC on behalf of the Open Access Implementation Group which looked at the benefits of open access to the private sector, the public sector outside HE and the voluntary and community sector.
  • The importance of good narratives and anecdotes to demonstrate the value of open access generally and the repository’s role in particular. The studies that Josh described provide case studies which can be used by repository staff but many people have examples of how exposure by the repository has benefited the institution and individual academics e.g. through increased opportunities for collaborative research.
  • The need for sustainable support services for repositories. Edina at the University of Edinburgh have been commissioned by JISC to develop UK RepositoryNet, a socio-technical infrastructure to support repositories. Theo Andrew from Edina and Veronica Adamson from Glenaffric (via Skype) ran a workshop to gain input from the delegates as to what they wanted from such a service.
  • We all felt enthused about bringing the emphasis back to open access. The final sessions on Wednesday morning were devoted to this. Lots of original ideas were generated as to how we can make it happen. These will be the subject of a future blog post.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend three days with old and new colleagues discussing these very important issues. Thanks to all the speakers and participants for making it a really worthwhile event.

Slides and notes will be made available over the next week on the event page.

Focus on Open Access at the University of the West of England

As part of Open Access week, yesterday I presented at a lunchtime session at the University of Western England  (my slides are below) as part of a week of activies. The attendees were an even mix of academic and library staff which made for a lively discussion. I was very impressed by the high level of support for the repository and the engagement of the staff at UWE. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion – it’s a real treat to delve into the issues that are critical in making OA really work. So thanks to those who took part and to Anna Lawson and Alex Clarke (the repository team) for inviting me.

I’ve summarised the issues below:

  • The current system of academic reward based on publication in high impact journals supports the status quo. There is a need to widen this to include other impact measures such as engagement with business and influence on policy making. Although, the difficulty of measuring this was acknowledged.
  • The importance to societies of the income from journal subscriptions.
  • The repository or “Green route” was viewed favourably but it was important to make self deposit as streamlined as possible – rekeying of information is a real barrier.
  • There was a lot of interest in the costs of gold publishing and the likelihood of this business model becoming the norm.
  • One academic was reluctant to deposit their own final copy rather than the published version as it hadn’t been copy edited. Although for the end reader, they may not be too worried about a few mistakes if the alternative was a cost to view it. Another academic recounted an experience where the publisher’s editing had had the opposite effect and the author’s final version was the more correct one.
  • The cost of closed access was discussed – particularly its impact on library budgets.
  • Metrics on use need to include a full picture e.g. downloads from publishers sites plus downloads from the repository. The JISC funded PIRUS 2 project has been exploring just this scenario. There was some concern that downloads may detract from use of the published version but it was agreed that the repository downloads could well be in addition to the traditional subscription access.
  • Mandates which required staff to deposit their research in the repository were seen as a valued indication of institutional support but the most important thing was the enthusiasm among the academic community.
  • The curation of research data and the issues around making this open access were raised. UWE has recently been awarded JISC funding for a Managing Research data project.
Slides UWE_261011

Photo by Hopeless128

Two new toolkits to ‘Kultivate’ artistic research deposit

Guest Post by Marie-Therese Gramstadt, KULTIVATE Project Manager, VADS.

Funded through the JISC Information Environment programme 2009-11, the Kultivate project makes available two new toolkits for the UK Higher Education community: an advocacy for arts research toolkit aimed at repository managers; and a decision-making toolkit for artistic researchers. The Kultivate project has arisen out of the Kultur II Group, which consists of researchers and repository staff engaging with arts research deposit in institutional research repositories, and is led by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), a Research Centre of the University for the Creative Arts. Read more of this post

Umbrella 2011

University of Hertfordshire by phatcontroller

I will be presenting at Umbrella 2011 on “Research Repositories: the role of library staff in their management”. I’ll be referring to a survey which the RSP carried out last year on the role and skills of staff in UK repositories. I’ll also describe the role of the RSP, including its training events, and refer to UKCoRR. It will include some future gazing as to the role librarians might play to meet the ever growing demands of research data management.

Hope to see some of you there.

A new sense of confidence in the repository community

image authors own

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.

authors own image

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.

Image authors own

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.

image authors own

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.

Guest post by Jackie Proven – Increasing repository content at St Andrews using MERIT data.

In 2010 the University of St Andrews implemented a new Research Information System (RIS) called PURE and we began developing strategies for increasing the full text content in our repository. Like most institutions we use various techniques such as presenting at staff events and enabling administrators to make deposits. We knew that getting good quality research outputs from high profile staff would help champion the cause, and so our Library Director suggested looking at the database of RAE 2008 submissions produced by the MERIT project.

The fact that the metadata has been enhanced with publisher details and the main ROMEO conditions means it has proved to be a valuable resource. The database can be easily searched and downloaded for further analysis, and you can then target content in various ways. One possible workflow which I have tried is:

  • Search the database and download as Excel file
  • Deduplicate using ja_ID  (journal article unique ID which is generated for each author)
  • Add columns for author email and deposit date
  • Filter by “PVersionPermittedInIr” (Publisher version you can deposit) to see articles that allow Publisher’s pdf
  • Filter further by publisher and check ROMEO*
  • Email relevant researchers with a bit of blurb about open access and offer to deposit these outputs on their behalf, suggesting at the same time they could add author versions of other publications.
  • Deposit the full text (which in our case just means adding the file to the metadata already in PURE, and validate for transfer to the repository).

While it’s possible to find this data in other ways, the MERIT database is a nice tidy solution. Starting with RAE2008 data provides confidence when viewing your repository as a showcase. Working with a batch of outputs from one publisher certainly speeds up the copyright-checking part of the deposit process. (*Given ongoing discussion about the detail of publisher policies including the distinction between websites and repositories, some people may be happy to take the data at face value; some may want to read the ROMEO detail or full policy.)

We have also extended the workflow to look for other content using our RIS metadata. Having this visibility of authors, research outputs and related activity is very helpful to our advocacy efforts. As well as increasing content, it is proving to be a valuable way to start dialogue with our researchers.

For further details contact Jackie Proven, email: