The Repository Fringe 2009 (Part 1)
Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 August, 2009
Last week I went up to a two day conference in Edinburgh at the Information Forum. Glancing at the delegate list it seemed that the majority of the participents were from Southampton University, UKOLN and EDINA and a bit thinner on the ground with actual repository managers. Before the conference I anticipated an event filled with hyperbole and spectacle, though thin on practicality. Thankfully I was wrong, and it was a throughly useful and iformative two days.
The opening speaker suggested that credit crunch is a driver for real change in scholarly publication habits, as libraries and publishers alike have to re-examine closely their financial situation with respect to journals. Open access repositories or open access publishing become much more attractive considerations in this climate it was suggested.
Keynote (Sally Rumsey and Ben O’Steen) – Where are Repositories Going
Sally looked at the historical parallels with the Bodleian Library (in terms of storage and content) followed by catalogues (search). Users of the libraries resources grew over time, and how they were served evolved jsut as much as how to collections were acquired, curated and accessed. From this she said the lesson for repositories is one of patience, overtime they will grow just not overnight. There is a realisation that they act as catalyst for change, and this moment of realisation can be as important as the change itself. What we are beginning to see is the migration from simple single repository as storage, and they’re integration to other services (ala the REF and moves to embed within the RIS) and systems. Therefore repositories are becoming a set of services. Repository staff are catalysts for change within the institution, since they speak across and with people in all levels and sections of an institution.
Ben spoke about how the Internet can be viewed as a distributed repository, where services and storage should be separate; and in this way be robust – the loss/upgrade of one will not devastate. Therefore Ben suggested looking at ways to make your IR work more like the Web does. People search for things, elements of information, not the whole documents – not the packages they come in. I didn’t 100% agree with this view point from what I know of Arts & Humanties researchers whom doubtless want the entirety of a document. However, I can agree that it is a interesting point for STM researchers.
Sally moved on to say that policies should be driving everything that goes in and out of repositories; though many still lack real preservation policies. Assured secure storage and permanent access needs to be well-managed. This was a topic that came up again in discusions I had around the Fringe, and a potential area for IRs in the UK to think about practically in the future much more.
The talk moved on to suggest that repository people are reinventing too many wheels; for example don’t get materials out of mainstream repos (e.g. Slidehare/Flckr etc) just link out to them. Sally showed a very complex diagram from Bill Hubbard of how a researcher now has to deal with funder mandates. Current open access publishing models and options are too complex currently, but are likely to continue for some time. Interestingly this had raised worries about versioning from academics and an increased need for automation (self-archiving) in order to deal with the levels of ingest. She also mentioned that the Nature Publishing Group is now offering an automatic deposit service into subject repositories, and perhaps will also do this for IRs in the future.
Ben talked about disproportionate feedback loops, like high scores in video games – they seem trivial but seem to satisfy far more than you’d expect. In this way usage stats and reuse stats are major satisfiers for academics when they look at their papers in a repository; something I agree with in my experience here and at Nottingham. He also said that increasingly there’s a need for access to the entirety of research output, since the research article is only summary of the whole body of work. Thus data archiving becomes more critical as well as ensuring multiple objects across multiple repositories can be linked together readily.
There was asuggestion that repos are currently in the trough of disillusionment in the hype cycle which means the move to steady productivity remains as of yet elusive.
Finally the talk looked at three current crucial trends: (1) entering period of steady growth and change, (2) embedded withing a set of services at institution systems and (3) the need for unique name identification of authors. Other areas of concenr include the need for continued collaboration with all research stakeholders and for the long term access to research