PEERing through the scholarly publishing gloom
Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 June, 2009
PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) is a pretty major European Union funded project looking at the impact and effects of arching in repositories of academic papers and the like. The site has been live since late February but it was only through a mailshot yesterday that I became particularly aware of them.
Glad to see that repository managers and libraries are stakeholders. Actually, I’d have been happier to see libraries paired off as a 5th separate stakeholder as I don’t believe that library interests and those of repositories are strictly speaking coterminus. Repository administration is often, but not always, based within a library but this can be a marriage of convenience – a functional – decision rather than a strategic one. Perhaps this is an area PEER needs to think about carefully.
After reading through the Web site, I can see how PEER may well produce some interesting information and reports on the European repository and publishing scene. However, as with so many of these large inatives I’ve yet to spot where the directly applicable and readily employable outputs for repository people will be. Is PEER to act as a lobbying service on our behalf? No. Will PEER mediate discussions twixt the various stakeholders? Maybe. Will PEER change the way our repository functions? In some way I guess.
Perhaps it is too early to pour cold water on what PEER can, may or will achieve – but I’ve seen these big EU wide initiatives before (I’m thinking of DRIVER) which have had only a minor impact within the UK HEI repository community. Worthy work for sure, but so much at a nebulous, Ivory tower strata rather than a practitioner level. On the other hand initiatives such as the RSP or UKCoRR have had a real beneficial role directly supporting repository workers as well as performing a research and stakeholder interface function. IMHO we need more of these, and less of the long term study initiatives.
Actually I think that’s perhaps a little harsh on DRIVER, which I believe had a bigger role to play in the European repository scene. Unfortunately for the project, the UK repository scene was perhaps further along with it’s networking and building supporting communities, so what it did he;lp facilitate wasn’t as noticeable.
With this in mind I’ll be interested to see how PEER will interact with the UK HEIrepository community. There aren’t currently any major UK comparable projects (I’ll happily be corrected on this point) on this scale, so it’s a noble endeavour for sure. I am hoping they’ll be looking to directlyinteract with repository managers like me who work at the sharp end of things; though I suspect a lot of their work may end up being at a more strategic higher level. I could be wrong though. They’ll be appointing an advisoryboard soon, and I imagine that might shape significantly how, where and at what level it engages with the community.
All the same, it’s a site that’s well worth a look from anyone working with repositories; and no doubt in time some very interesting information will begin to seep forth from it.