UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

UKCoRR Summer 2009 meeting pt 2

Posted by gazjjohnson on 18 August, 2009

Continuing on with the UKCoRR day at Kingston University

Integration of Repositories with other systems, Wendy White, Southampton

This session looked at how the repository interacts with all the other systems that an institution uses.  Not just technologies but people as well, the repository can help identify and nurture your star performer academics.  Recognising the role the repository plays as a knowledge management system.  But also as a location for marketing, to tell stories, myths and legends of your institution’s research is a role the repository can play.  Also the repository managers themselves are the star performers that institutions need to hold on to, by recognising them and ensuring their pay and benefits encourage them to stay.

Integration of Repositories with other systems, Morag Greig, Glasgow

This talk aimed to take a more practical overview of the same issue, which started with Morag giving an overview of Glasgow’s repository.  Like Leicester they aimed to join the repository and publications database together.  It was important to develop policies and procedures to enable departments to engage with the repository on an on-going basis.  Started by going out to talk to HoDs and research chair/champions in each department.  Gathered information on their current practices on how they gathered current procedures.  Self deposit for two depts, mediated for large faculties and proxy for most small to medium sized departments.  Issue with materials in PMC going unharvested.

Training sessions were run for administrators (from 30 depts) including the wider context of OA, something which I think is very important.  Even if you are just adding material to a repository as part of your job, it is important you understand why it is important to academics and the institution as a whole; not to mention the global dimension.  Glasgow are planning a large scale import of data going back to 2001, and adding staff number.

Embed, John Harrington, Cranfield

In this talk John explained how his repo emerging from the embedding phase and into the mature phase.  He looked at the problems they initially faced.  Then he moved to look at the various sweeteners they could use to sell the repository and the publication cycle.  Using a model like Leicester (alerts and request) to obtain materials got a low awareness in the academic community.  They concluded that this was an unsustainable model for scaling up, something I agree with.  RAE didn’t help, but elements of bibliometrics raised importance of the repository which they used as a basis for renewed advocacy push.

Adrian Mschiraju, Royal Holloway

Adrian told a cautionary tale about what happens if it people are seduced by bought in systems.  They have bought Equella an Australian developed system for all purposes teaching objects, research publications, data and theses.  14 months of developer time so far to customise for their purposes – however, had to drop their requirements down to a level that eprints could have done on day 1.  [Post-event I spoke to their developer Alison on twitter, who said actually the picture wasn’t quite as bleak as this – and indeed their repository actually offers a lot more functionality]

Susan Miles, Kingston

Susan talked about maintaining momentum with a repository team over time.  They have 7 people who have editorial rights over their eprints server, which is a considerable number for a smaller institution.  However, repository work has to be competed for with all the other competing demands – these are not dedicated members of staff.  As a team distributed over 4 campuses they have been using Sharepoint to draw the team’s activities drawing together.

Finally Mary Robinson, talked about the UKCoRR repository skills set document which has ended up being used around the world.  Dominic talked about the JISC recruitment tool kit for digital repository projects – which frankly was just the sort of basic things you get told at all kinds of recruitment training and didn’t appear to offer much of novel use – JISC reinventing the wheel again? 

Over all this was another very useful day and gathering of people in the rare position of being repository managers (there’s still less than 100 people in this country in this position – so it’s a very small but active community).  I learned a fair bit and let’s hope I was able to share my own experiences with a fair few people.  Let’s hope it’s not 18 months before the next event.  And maybe we can have it North of the M25 (or on the south coast – I’m not fussy!).

Twitter feed from the event.

10 Responses to “UKCoRR Summer 2009 meeting pt 2”

  1. Andy McGregor said

    Hi Gareth. I was interested to read your comments on the JISC recruitment toolkit. The toolkit is supposed to offer basic recruitment advice tailored to recruiting for time limited projects in the digital repository area. However I don’t see this as reinventing the wheel because of the problem that the toolkit was commissioned to help address.

    JISC projects are generally short and when recruitment is required it can be a high risk activity as it is time consuming and difficult to recruit staff when sometimes a time limited contract is all that is on offer. Recruitment was responsible for delaying or changing the deliverables of a large number of repository start up and enhancement projects. Therefore it is something that needs to be addressed. Many project managers for JISC projects won’t have been fortunate enough to have had recruitment training and it is too late to have the training once the project has begun as time is short and training may not be conveniently timed. Therefore the toolkit is supposed to address this issue and give time poor project managers a handy manual to help them plan recuitment into their proposals and to carry out the recruitment process as efficiently as possible.

    So while the toolkit has nothing new to say, that is not what it aims to do, there are no magic bullets in this area and the purpose of the toolkit is to provide solid, basic advice to project managers available when they need it and tailored to JISC projects.

    Finally this is a much more cost effective way to provide recruitment advice then sending every JISC project manager on recruitment training.

    • Perhaps it was the low level of detail it was covered in on Friday that made me more skeptical – I’ll certainly be having a look at the tool kit myself before we nect recruit any staff for the repo. It’s just that in terms of what it covered while it was hitting all the right notes, they were all the right notes that I already know from my recuritment training – it didn’t seem to have any real repository specific added value. Maybe that’ll assumption will be assuaged on a read through!

    • I too, would like to leap to the defence of the JISC recruitment toolkit. Maybe I am biased because I did have a (very small) involvement with its creation, but I thought it was a very comprehensive document, full of snippets of useful advice. Things like how to choose the right terminology, where to advertise, etc. are all fairly specific to repositories and therefore unlikely to crop up in generic recruitment training. (And be honest, HR departments are unlikely to even know what an IR is, still less understand the nature of a repository role.)
      And of course the toolkit now has the advantage of being there when we need it – it doesn’t rely on us dusting off our out of date recruitment training notes.
      If I’m ever lucky enough to win any more JISC funding (pretty please, Andy) then I’ll be using it 🙂

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  3. Adrian Machiraju said

    No complaints at all at having my story described as a “cautionary tale”, I think it is. I was very defensive of its lateness in the presence of many London LEAP colleagues, who know how long ago we were supposed to remove our repository from UCL’s shared but now unfunded eprints installation.
    However, there is a positive side which was covered in the presentation and conversations afterwards, and that is flexibility. This system is good for teaching objects, and I am hoping that it will provide new repositories, for digital theses and research data archiving, without much further effort.

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