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An alternative to traditional peer review

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 August, 2010

Interesting article from the New York Times looking at an experiemtn from the humanties sector at exploring open peer review through the use of social networkings.

Although I don’t know if every academic would want to deal with 350 comments on an article from a mass of reviewers – for those academics reading this, how does that match up to your experience of comments on a typical paper?  More/less than normal?  Is this a good idea or does it, as the article suggests, risk turning academic publishing into some sort of American Idol/X-Factor like contest where only the popular good looking papers get published?

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Posted in Open Access, Research Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Health Libraries Group Conference 2010

Posted by sarahw9 on 21 July, 2010

The Lowry, Salford QuaysI’ve just returned from my first ever Health Libraries Group conference in Manchester, well, Manchester was in the conference title, although we were told in no uncertain terms from a local that the conference location The Lowry is in fact in the city of Salford.

 I admit at first I was a bit concerned this was going to be too NHS-y for my job, but there was more than enough that was relevant to academic libraries, although I didn’t meet many folk who weren’t employed by the NHS.

 I doubt anyone wants to read a summary of all of the sessions I attended especially when you will soon be able to download the presentation yourself from  the conference website, so I’ve made a summary of points that caught my eye.  You can also read the tweets from the HLG conference searching under #hlg2010. 

Elearning vs Face to face training

Two very different messages came from  two presentations on teaching information literacy to nursing students and practicing nurses.  Mark Raynor & Alison Brettle from the University of Salford showed us the results of their study comparing the effectiveness of face to face training sessions with training that was entirely online.  They found no difference in the results or skills retention of both groups, although a vocal minority just did not like the elearning approach.  I admit in general I would rather learn something from a person telling me than from online instruction, and I’m convinced I remember more.  Whether that’s just a personal preference or an illusion that I remember more is another matter of course.  That could just be me slipping into pre web 2 mode.  If online learning is well designed and it’s a process you follow through rather than just a list of instructions then perhaps its just as good.

Tatjana Petrinic from the University of Oxford spoke about how the popularity of their generic training for nurses (in practice not students) had fallen off, but that 1 to 1 training was very popular – to the point that they no longer have to advertise it, nurses contact them for training.  This has developed into supporting nurses to publishing. They cover literature searching, referencing, complying with the journal style.  Nurses don’t get this kind of advice elsewhere and Tatjana said as a group nurses are very supportive of each other in the process (compared to other professions which will remain nameless).

I think where done well, face to face training can offer more support for people who are unconfident and who prefer a more human approach.  In reality where there are large numbers of students involved well designed elearning can do the job very well, but I can’t help thinking it always helps if you have a friendly face you can ask. 

What are librarians good for?

Two thought provoking presentations by Lyn Robinson and Andrew Booth , whilst very different, came to the similar conclusion that its not so much ‘technical’ skills such as information retrieval that librarians can offer which is unique, as an approach to seeing the bigger picture to facilitate the flow of information and knowledge either across organisations or from creator to user.  Andrew Booth started with the memorable finding made by Paul Glasziou that the longer doctors practised the less effective they were (they don’t keep up to date?), and had wondered whether this could also apply to librarians.  Are the experienced over confident and novices under confident about what they can do? Another perhaps less surprising observation Andrew found in the literature was  a study that concluded that more experienced staff (not necessarily librarians or doctors) tend to have a more ‘passive implementation of the curriculum’ than novices, in other words they are less inclined to innovate (I presume that’s what is meant).  I’m not sure a total novice is always keen to innovate, unless they are completely foolhardy, but perhaps there is somewhere in between.

Reinforcing the original point about the use of librarians was Emily Hopkin’s presentation on how she set up a library service (or rather an information service) with no physical library or stock at NHS North West.  She went about all the informal ways of gathering information about the organisation going to meetings, talking to people in corridors, finding out what was going on.  She discovered all sorts of places where people had information needs she could help with.  Unsurprisingly she found people had little understanding of what a library service is beyond books in a room and that asking people what they wanted was not the most fruitful approach.  To show what she could do she sent them information she knew they needed based on her ‘spying’, and before long they were sending her requests for more work. She found the thing people most wanted was for her to do internet research where they simply don’t have the time or they want a more comprehensive search.  This sounds like great practice; going to grass roots to find out what people are actually doing , and providing a valuable service they never knew they could have.  Its just as relevant to academics libraries as anywhere else.  I think us subject librarians could learn a lot here, in particular with supporting research or even supporting not only the academics but all sorts of administrative staff.  Of course we have known all this for years, but implementing it seems to be another matter.  I had a similar job for PricewaterhouseCoopers (doing internet research / enquires for their staff and writing summaries, briefings and current awareness bulletins), and that was over 10 years ago.

 Other highlights:

Critical Appriasal teaching: Michelle Madden showed  us her excellent wiki for supporting librarians teaching critical appraisal.  She had surveyed attitudes to teaching CA and found three quarters of librarians think they should teach it, but despite the majority having had training that only one third actually do train others.  There were some organisations barriers to this, but often it was down to lack of confidence in knowledge of statistics and medicine.  She has set up a support wiki CATNiP – Critical Appraisal Tookit Navigating into Practice which includes lots of support material include preappraised articles.  I’ve requested access to this site, which I hope I get as it all looks very useful. 

LibraryThing – to update core collections: Helene Gorring and Helen Buckley Woods are using LibraryThing to update the core collections of books for medical libraries, the mental health version is the first they have tackled.  It’s a great idea to do this collaboratively and get direct input from everyone, so get inputting and rating here:  http://www.librarything.com/catalog/corecollection

The Health Informaticist  and collaborative blogging: Alan Fricker and Hanna Lewin talked about their experience of producing their collaborative blog The Health Informaticist.  Unlike our very own collaborative blog, the four writers come from different settings within health information  (a charity, hospital library, governmental body and a private company).  Perhaps we could claim though to have very different specialisms even if we all work for the same organisation.  It was interesting to see another very different collaborative blog in a related field of interest.  On a purely trivial note I did think to myself its time we improved the look of our blog – unless the strictly functional style is what we prefer.

And finally… 

Thanks HLG  I enjoyed this event.  There were lots of useful practical things I could take away, and that’s not just the free pens and post-it notes.

Posted in CILIP, Collection management, Research Support, Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Advocacy – it ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it

Posted by gazjjohnson on 17 May, 2010

Kings Fund, LondonAnd with apologies for the terrible grammar in that title.  Friday I went for my second jaunt of the month down to London to attend their Communication Skills for Advocacy event. As someone who’s run a few events of this kind myself in a previous life I wasn’t originally planning to attend, until Dominic Tate of the RSP invited me along as a facilitator.  I’m glad he did as the day was actually incredibly useful, even to someone like myself who likes to think of himself as an old hand.

The event took place in the one of the rather wonderful conference suites at the Kings Fund, Cavendish Square.  Along with about 30 other repository managers and workers we were welcomed to the event by CRC’s Bill Hubbard.  The bulk of the day was facilitated by Deborah Dalley whom did an excellent job (although I’m not sure I was overly keen on the use of the phrase “Did that resonate with you?” – but that might have been a simple gut reaction). 

During the morning we looked initially at the four stages of effective influencing:

  • What do you want?
  • Who are you trying to influence?
  • What power do you have?
  • How to communicate the message

Following on from this we did an audit of our own sources of power, which helped us to understand where we were perhaps coming from ourselves.  I think I concluded that personally within my role I end up using Coercive, Expert, Reward, Personal, Information and Connection sources of power; but was weaker on position (aka authority) and Association Power.  We also took a look at the perception position that we adopt with respect to influencing, the importance of adopting the 2nd position (that of the other person) to truly understand where they are coming from and why they might not want to agree with us.   Before we moved into a coffee break we turned to examine channels of communication – which I was proud to say I managed to have a large number of.  Okay, so I’ve plenty of ways to communicate with people, I just need to work on my influencing skills somewhat was the message I emerged from the morning with.

After coffee we looked at putting influence into practice to develop a short pitch (2 minute) to an academic.  In the group I was in I can’t say that we developed a clear pitch, but we did have an excellent discussion about how we would make these kinds pitches in our own organisations.  We didn’t have to deliver our pitch, which was a shame as I think it might have helped the groups focus down to a practical output a little bit more.  Then before lunch we looked at the challenging realm of understanding and managing resistance; including how resistance manifests and the steps we can take to address and hopefully overcome it.  Quite a key point here was not emotionally engage but to view resistance as part of a broader context – 80% of our first thoughts on hearing an idea are negative, so this it is only natural for people to resist.

After a fabulous bento box lunch (kudos Dominic) we went back into group work to generate as many objection to repositories and open access as possible, from the academic’s perspective.  Or as I suspect ones that we ourselves have heard our academics talk about. 

This was followed by perhaps the most challenging part of the day when myself, Dominic and Bill moved to the front and essentially tried to offer our collective wisdom in how to overcome these objections.  Interesting our approaches were divergent at times, but generally just as valid.  Hopefully the rest of the room were able to take something away – although I’m aware we ran out of time to deal with all the objections on the day.

After another tea break we broke into threes to roleplay academics and repository managers (and observers) with specific problems and objections.  This was a chance for us to put all our learning into action, and naturally a chance for me to roll our my thespian skills once more.  I hope my group enjoyed my embodiment of an academic!  Finally we wrapped the day with feedback on this session and thoughts about the day.

This was a really excellent day, and I’ve come away with some ideas and plans that I’ll put into action the next time I’m speaking to a group of or individual academics.  It was interesting to note that a lot of the objections we face are very similar, which gives me hope that the routes to resolving them will become plainer overtime.

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fame for Keith

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 May, 2010

Keith NockelsI can’t let this pass unmarked, but if you look in the latest CILIP Gazette (online here, 6th May 2010)  you will find the regular My Week coloum has been written by our very own Keith Nockles. Nice to see one of our team of staff getting some much deserved public recognition, well done Keith!

Posted in Wider profession | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

USTLG Spring Meeting (May 2010)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 May, 2010

Wordle from tweets about the dayMay is the month where I seem to be spending a lot of time on trains to London (not counting the meeting at CILIP I had to send apologies for last week). Today was the first of these when myself and Selina travelled down to attend the University Science and Technology Librarians Group spring meeting. Not that I’m pretending I’m still a subject librarian, rather I was invited there to give a short talk about getting the most out of blogging and microblogging.

After the day was introduced by long time friend and colleague Moria Bent (Newcastle) the first session of the day kicked off. What follow are my notes on the four talks.  Hopefully there will be some more notes in a future post from Selina, so you can get her views of the day’s highlights as well.

Jon Fletcher, Nottingham Trent University
Embedding resources into the curriculum via a VLE (for scientists).
Becoming embedded has become somewhat of a mantra at NTU – noted could run as many training sessions as you like, but this doesn’t mean they engage. Hence taking their resources to where the students are spending more time on the VLE. Their educational resources repository (Nottingham Trent Online Workspace, now.ntu.ac.uk). There is a block of library resources and training materials on this system. Referenced from all their course pages that relate to science.

Jon’s 5 step guide to embedding resources on the VLE

  1. Consult/design
    1. Talk to the students
    2. What would they find useful
    3. What formats would work
    4. Avoid overlap of effort
  2. Get permission and access
    1. Need rights to edit, otherwise academic might not do what you expect them too.
    2. Resources can be embedded by academics
    3. Need to sell what you do and be realistic.
  3. Embed resources
    1. Plan – get an idea of time scale, workload and commitment
    2. Work with your academic stakeholders and deliver according to your planned schedule, or else they won’t be impressed.
    3. Need to consider longer term – how will you maintain and update resources once live? NTU’s tech allows them to make global changes.
    4. Expect it to take longer than you think
  4. Sustainability
  5. What’s next
    1. Always consider next iterations – need to revise and update, preferably as part of an ongoing cycle.
    2. Keep items up to date.

Doing this has helped make the library (and Jon) more visible to the academics.

Royal Society of Chemistry Library - we didn't get to look in here.MyLibrary: building a library dashboard application
Mark Galvillet, Newcastle

An open source web resource that can be downloaded and customised by anyone. It draws information from various different sources. MyLibrary is built on the back of analysing overlong customer journeys to resources, students should be able to access all the resources from a single point of access without having to go through multiple intermediary stages. Also interfaces with the library catalogue so can access your record, renew books etc. Provides a news feed as well, although that is under review. Calender for opening hours and events etc, driven by Google calendar, is also included. In many regards MyLibrary pretty much provides a single point of access to all of a student’s needs. While for the academic there may be a requirement for a more sophisticated resource, this was fairly impressive and doubtless would be well received by the student body.

RSC Publishing Beta – have your say
Richard Blount & Louise Peck, RSC

Talked about RSC Publishing Beta website for their hosted journals, ebooks and databases. Customisable for each user. Chem Spider.

Advocating Professional Social Networking to Academics
Paula Anne Beasley & Linda Norbury, University of Birmingham

Training sessions to library staff to bring them up to speed on the basics of Web 2.0 so they can use it or not based on their own experiences! Made them think about what the academics needs were with respect to these resources, and if there was a need to train them. Facilitated training in a supporting environment, so people didn’t feel foolish and where they could see the clear benefits of producing them. Surveyed their college staff via email – free-text response. Fewer responses, but more dialogue from those who did respond.  Aimed to run sessions for 25 people, at least that was how many they anticipated.

Gareth J Johnson
Do Librarians Dream of Electric Tweets?

And that was my day in London. Next up, the RSP Advocacy Workshop!

Posted in Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

British Library April 2010 Birimingham Roadshow

Posted by gazjjohnson on 21 April, 2010

Barber Insitute for Fine Arts, Venue for the RoadshowOn the 20th April I travelled over to one of the stops on the British Library roadshow circuit. I was interested to hear about a number of developments, as well as catching up with a number of old friends and colleagues in the document supply field.

Future Developments BL Document Supply Service, Barry Smith
The theme of the day was looking at ideas that they can help with in times of fiscal crisis. He noted that the BL needs to generate revenue to support its wider goals, and this is what Document Supply services is about. He noted the biggest change is the major overall planned in their document supply services in the coming three years.

Background is more people are now in tertiary education than ever (estimated 140M+ globally as of 2006), and likewise more research than ever is being produced. Developing markets (India and China) exploding in terms of production. Creates an increased demand at the faculty level for the average number of articles read a year by academics 1977 (150 articles) by 2006 (271 articles). As a result the number of titles that are being subscribed to by unis has increased – more or less doubled in 10 years. However, hard times are ahead- current expenditure of £10M a year spent by BL on acquisitions cannot continue.

Discussed academic libraries’ coping strategies (from a study conducted by Newcastle University) – plans how each will cope with the cuts. The largest portion by far said that 33% would respond by requesting more funding from their central bodies, but how realistic is this? Next on the list were cuts in book funds and serials funds. Staff cuts were above cutting Big Deals in 2009, but by 2010 these had risen dramatically in prominence. In US they protect acquisitions above staff. Notable that in the face of all this fiscal uncertainty that publishers remain bullish over increasing prices their prices; a deeply lamentable situation that a decade of open access has yet to impact upon.

A graph showing the demand on BLDSC for documents from m1973-2010 showed peak in requests in the period 1999/2000 (over 4M requests a year). Now this has dwindled to lowest point over this 30+ year period (less than 1.5M a year). Price vs cost of copies the current charge for an article is £5.40, but the cost to BL to supply is £6.64, thus there is expected to be a rise in the charge to libraries in the future. A project at the BL called Document Supply Futures is looking at manual activities to retrieve items and photocopy or scan. Increasing acquired digital content over physical held to reduce the manual processes need to distribute.

In the room only a few people (institutions) are already using Fileopen it seems (aside from Scotland). Barry noted that Adobe Digital Editions upgrades are built for Ebooks technologies not document supply, and this is major reason for the shift to Fileopen. Right now they are waiting for the tipping point to start planned withdrawal of ADE, but date as yet undecided. 36% of academic customers now on Fileopen, mostly in Scotland. Barry outlined the advantages of moving to Fileopen (I’m already convinced and we’ll be running tests on it at Leicester in the coming months, with a plan to move to it for academic year 2010/11). Most experiences in the room with FO were good, some initial Mac problems, but these seem to have been resolved by the BL team now. Barry noted that they are trying to move to a point where you wouldn’t even need a plug in to open Fileopen, but for now one is needed.
HE subscription model discussed – two year tie in – with the savings really beginning from August 2010 as transactional charges are frozen.

  • Transactional model
    • Aug 2009: £5.40 copies/£9.90 loans
    • Aug 2010: £5.85 copies/£10.80 loans
  • Subscription model
    • Aug 2009: £4.95 copies/£9.90 loans
    • Aug 2010: £4.95 copies/£9.90 loans

Development of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR), Pavan Ramrakha
In a rather brief talk Pavan gave an overview of this HEFCE funded partnership. With £9M over 5 years this aims to protect research info and free up 100km of shelving allowing collaborative collection management, and free up space for libraries. This allows disposal of material that is held by other members of the partnership as it will be supplied for free between them and the BL. 29 members are currently signed up to this, and membership is now closed. Since the start about 15km of space generated and 3% of the materials withdrawn have been deposited to the BL.
Within the membership supply is <24hrs and you can have branding on documents supplied, thus it appears as though the document comes from within your own institution. You can customise the coversheet with your local information.

EThOS a year in review, Barry Smith
For me one of the highlights of the event was to hear about where EThOS had reached. Barry explained that there was going to be a JISC/BL review of service in the coming year and we would have a chance to be involved in this. Currently there are 7,600 theses downloads a month vs 400 items a month for the old microfilm service (interestingly this is comparable to a mid-sized IR). He acknowledged the issues over summer 2009 where demand far outstripped capacity to digitise. Throughput dropped from 30 day to 90 day turnaround per item and the BL employed three shifts to get over the backlog. In terms of the age of theses being digitised – three quarters (73%) are post 1995. 69% of ETHOS users are from the UK, which is perhaps not a surprise when you realise that the site is neither indexed by Google nor promoted overseas. The BL fear is that this would increase demand beyond their capacity to digitise, although EThOS is hardly a secret I would say within the global academic community. There was also the issue that more traffic to the site would mean more pressure on their servers.

109 universities are involved (Oxford and Cambridge still notable hold-outs) and as of 2009 (Jan) 94 of these were by the subscription model. By Jan 2010 this had dropped to 72 using this university pays model, with the remainder switching over to the first user pays model. Barry acknowledged that there are concerns from those universities on the subscription model effectively paying for the theses in other institutions to be digitised as well as funding their own subscriptions & digitisations. He argued that many are unhappy with this state of affairs digitising stock that is not of interest to their core (local) audience.

Cost cuttings over the next four years in HE libraries means that participation in EThOS may well be seen as more of a luxury (although personally I suspect I would be hard-pressed to resource effective digitisation for the relatively small fee we pay), Many unis are also stopping loaning theses on the back of their involvement in EThOS. BL is seeking a way of making EThOS a more representative archive, rather than a patchwork. They also want to find a new way to fund it, in many respects they can’t continue to expect Universities to bank roll digitisation the way they have done.

“Monetising” ETHoS is a way forward possibly was considered – charge non UK-HEI users was suggested but rejected as they could just use IRs to access the same files. Another suggestion was to give more information on who is requesting a thesis to the universities (status and affiliation) so they can make a value judgement and consider if it is a priority to digitise a thesis in response to a request. Discussions about asking for digital copy from authors, and noted that Leicester and Nottingham were among the few to do this in the room.

One thing that was a little shocking was how EThOS handles inappropriate levels of request (tens and hundreds) from single individuals. They do monitor this, somehow – they didn’t go into depth, but they do not actually have a fair use policy for the service. I find this somewhat surprising for a major national service of EThOS’ age. Barry cited a recent incident where a US woman requested 300 theses – their approach was to use Google Street view to look at her house, assess whether this looked academic and then ring her up. To me this hardly seems a robust or systematic approach, and it does seem that EThOS is now finally thinking about developing a proper fair use policy.

One thing I did take away from this talk is that I still have my doubts about how effectively EThOS is being run, but at least now the BL do seem to be beginning to acknowledge the myriad of concerns that I’ve heard throughout the HE community past couple of years.

A question from the floor was about the microfilm theses that for years the BL created – why were these now no longer loaned? Barry confirmed that while these could be consulted in the BL reading rooms, that yes they were no longer loaned. The staff who ran the British Thesis Service had been redeployed to work on EThOS and so there wasn’t the capacity to send these. For now their non-loan status was set to continue.

Introduction to New BL Resource Management Platform, David Hughes
David showed off their resource navigator a tool which can help a library manage subscriptions as well as cost-per-articles statistics for e-subscriptions. It offers a federated search with customisable options and an integrated, knowledge base alerts the user where subs are available locally. Not clear why we would want to use this tool, no matter how customisable it was – when our local federated search (single search) tools are already set up.

Next he showed the A-Z manager a low maintenance way of tracking things you have licensed in a single database. Admin tools to make own site. One report allows you to identify where you are subscribing to journals from more than one source, and in terms of reviewing subscriptions I could see how this would be of value to my information (subject) librarian and Periodical team colleagues. No pricing or technological details were mentioned, so it wasn’t clear if either of these two products comes with a price tag, nor the system requirements needed to run them

Posted in Document Supply, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

JISC Conference: April 13th 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 15 April, 2010

Round the corner from the conferenceThis Tuesday I travelled down to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in a very sunny Westminster to attend the annual JISC Conference.  This event draws a lot of senior people from across the educational sector; and it’s possible to run into more than a few VCs over coffee.  It’s also a rich opportunity to hear from the broadest cross section of educational computing projects.  What follows are my notes

 The day was introduced by Malcolm Reed and Chair of JISC then JISC Chair Sir Timothy O’Shea. Spoke about current value as well as what the impact the UK election and reduced funding means we as a sector will be dealing with.  The next 10 years will be difficult as the environmental impact as well as funding will impact on HE computing.  He highlighted an article in the Guardian (14/Apr/2010) on HE, commenting that it complemented the lively pre-conference debate 150 people yesterday led by JISC Vice-Chair.  Suggested to go back and have one key thing to implement.

Martin Bean, VC OU: The Learning Journey: From Informal to Formal

A packed hall of listeners

An anarchist at heart who sought to spark discussions and possibly put a few backs up; with imitable Australian bravado.  Distance education is on fire – because you cannot build enough brick and mortar institutions to keep pace with growth in HE; and thus need to look at alternative delivery modes.  Distance learning is growth area, as cannot build enough brick and mortar HEIs.  But 1/3 HE students are in private institutions – going to see a growth in private organisations providing this kind of educational role.

 Challenges for the custodians – need to educate citizens for new kinds of work.  STEM is key for a competitive workforce for the next 10-50-100 years for innovation.  Need to think about transformation of information into meaningful knowledge.  John Naisbitt book Megatrends was mentioned.  Learning in the workplace needs to become essential, and supported by HEIs more.

 Modern students need constant stimulation and hate complexity (among other aspects of their  desires) but does this mean we need to dumb down our degrees, or shouldn’t we adapt to the modern student expectations?  Is there nothing to be said for a proper old fashioned solid and complex education, I wondered  – where does that take us in terms of teaching critical thinking?

 What can be done to break down the barriers?  Multichannel.  YouTube and iTunes university – 342,000 downloads a week for the OU – in the top 10 in U channel; and most of that traffic comes from outside the UK, pay off is that many of their new students first encounter the OU in this way and are drawn in by the brand.  Informal learning, more cooperative environment and need for flexibility for educational institutions.  LLL need the ability to move in and out of HE formally and informally.  Comments that the D.E. Act is going to seriously interfere with this ability to evolve and use new patterns of education, research and training.

Living with IPR – the web, the law and academic practise

View out the window at lunchCharles Oppenheim opened with a passionate and scholarly dismantling of the appallingly poorly debated and rushed through Digital Economy Bill (now Act).  Then Jason Miles-Campbell (his sporran is a wifi hot spot allegedly) from JISC Legal spoke.  In the next five years there is unlikely to be changes to copyright protected items, you need to find an exemption. Gave an overview of the small changes in the law and clarifications under law for reuse of items.  Digital Economy act – what’s going to happen to institutions – some time to go to see if we are subscribers or ISPs as there will need to be case law.  Note that D.E. Act calls for a graduated response to infringement.  Talked about the Newsbin vs big media companies case.  Newsbin was indexing infringing material – in court case they were found to be infringing.  Court noted what we need to do to have an exemption for such a thing; Newsbin was effectively authorising infringement – encouraged copyright infringement by employing editors.  11 words effective of being substantial.  No good making a large amount of material available to staff, if they’re unsure if they can legally use it.  Patchwork licenses are a problem – different aspects of resources covered by different legislation.  May mean we need to ditch some resources that we won’t be able to use.  Need to make life easy, but we also need to be able to take risk decisions – e.g. like driving – there are times when 32mph in a 30 zone can be okay, but you have to make the judgement call.

Naomi Korn and Emma Beer, Copyright Consultants spoke next about orphan works- those where author is unknown or untraceable – they are significant barrier to public access, due to length of implicit copyright.  The internet is a major source of orphan works.  Items hundreds of years old can still be in © until end of 2039!  In a project 302 staff hours were spent to give only 8 permissions received for use in the British Library sound archive – massive staff effort to little effective impact.  EU Mile Project -registry of Image Orphan Works.  EU ARROW Project – accessible registries of rights information and orphan works.  One thing is clear dealing with orphan works even for major bodies and projects requires a lot of work and staff time, something that those of working in open access can be aware of.  In D.E. Bill Clause 43 tried to offer an exemption.  The D.E. Act means that for now you should only use orphan works within a risk management framework, as not clear quite what the impact of this will be.

Project OOER – best name of the day? #jisc10 Organising Open Educational Resources.  Barriers for sharing different levels of IPR awareness, licensing awareness etc.

 Open Access Session, Neil Jacobs (Chair)

Talked about the report authored by Charles Oppenheim et al late last year.  Moves to electronic only can help reduce costs in the scholarly communications sector.  Alma Swann gave an overview of the work looking at three models of repos gold, green, and role of repos as locations of quality assurance and publication – described by Alma as more futuristic.  Libraries do things differently, and this affected the model that they created.   Though unis increase in size the benefits don’t necessarily.  The Salford VC and Librarian of Imperial College spoke about how they’ve gone about making a strong case for open access, fiscally, at their institutions.

Community Collections and the power of the crowd, Catherine Grout

In a fascinating session looking at crowdsourcing and citizen science we heard from Kate Lindsay (Oxford, WWI Poetry Digital Archive) Arfon Smith (Oxford, Galaxy Zoo), William Perrin (Web innovator and Community Activist) and Katherine Campbell (BBC, History of the World) about 4 very different areas of community engagement.  From sourcing and augmenting first world war artefacts from across the country (including a roadshow – turn up and digitise!), though the power of Galaxy Zoo’s galactic classification project – which I’m proud to say I’m one of the thousands involved in.  What was clear from these two talks is the scale of what is achievable is amplified many, many times beyond what can be achieved through using more conventional team based approaches, and that the successes far outweigh the concerns over quality (indeed the “normalisation” of so many repeated analyses ala Wikipedia was touched on).

 William took a different approach building up a resource from the ground up, and using it as a focus for drawing a community together physically as well as virtually.  He showed some excellent examples of what you can do when a community develops a local Web resource rather than just one activist (I am reminded of the local Sileby village Website for an example of how NOT to approach this – locked down and run by a small clique).

For the twitter over view see here, here and here

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JISC Legal Copyright Day March 31st 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 April, 2010

On the last day before Easter I escaped from the office to head to a rather chilly University of Sheffield to attend a JISCLegal Copyright event. As neither of my copyright officers were available to attend, hoped I’d glean some much needed insight into the latest developments in copyright legislation and practice. What follows are my notes from the event with a few comments where appropriate

Digital Images, John Hargreaves, JISC Digital Media
Formerly the organisation was known as TASI. It is based at the University of Bristol. John gave an overview of their role and services; highlighting their new two weekly online surgery which is open to all. Opened with a note on the relative impenetrability of copyright law (which in the light of the last session of day I can heartily concur with)– however, in this session he aimed to demystify aspects of image © law.

Despite what many people assume just because an image is on the internet doesn’t mean you can use it. Since all images are inherently copyrighted, normally to the creator, there is always a rights issue unless the creator/rights owner has clearly waived it – and indeed even then there might be some constraints.

He highlighted the vast growth in digital images, more user generated content, more sharing, ease of access and proliferation of web 2 services like Flickr and Google Images; services that allow dissemination. Traditional legislation is unclear in a digital context, and also laws are constantly changing and tightening. The suggestion today is that balance of rights lies with the rights holders not public access; something that seems to fly in the face of the open access agenda. Copyright in images will change on formats, something that isn’t born digital might have several different rights holders (original photographer, owner of a photo in a gallery, digitiser etc). The length of time that these rights remain as well for each format can differ.

While rights stay with the rights holder normally, if you create something while contracted to work for an organisation the user might not hold the rights. One line that I liked from John was that copyright exemptions aren’t rights to use, they are defences if you are challenged over your use.

So to avoid some of these problems then you should make use of trusted resources, such as JISC Image collections [LINK]. Commercial sites exist as well, although there might well be per-use or subscription fees to pay. Some sites deal with copyright exempt issues like stock.xchng for example. Also mentioned Flickr and advanced creative commons search for images for re-use. However, some people may well mount images in which they don’t own the copyright – assume the owner doesn’t understand copyright. Look through their images and see if the images in a users collections have the same look and feel, a good guide to seeing if they are the creator of them.

If you want to use images draw up your own license, or at least a clear description of how you would like it to work and the uses to which you will put the images. Even if you don’t directly use it with the rights holder it will help form part of your audit trail documentation, and will clarify discussions. You should consider the various possible rights within an image e.g. moral rights, data protection, expired rights due to age and clear statements of ownership. Joint ownership can be an issue where you need to clear the rights with more than one location. Web2rights.org.uk  has sample copyright permission letters that you can use.

Think for anything you or your users create to check that permissions to include images are covered. Consider how long a period of time permission is for (forever for a printed document, or a period of time for a web site for example). You also need to think of any related rights that might need to be cleared up at the same time. Is it appearing on the web and will you archive them or the document in some way. What do you expect the users of your object to be able to do with the images? Indeed if you have these issues clear in your head you are making it much easier for the rights holder to grant clear permissions. And all of this must be clearly documented – permissions, what you can/can’t do, who can use it, what can be done with it, what time limits that exist and the context of use of the object.

Creating image metadata to associate with the image and your use of it can be valuable. It allows you to attach the rights and permissions to the object so it can be passed to other people with these usage restrictions clearly accessible. Finally John talked about importance of asking for size/resolution of an image and how this will impact on where you can use it effectively. Print and screen have different requirements, and if you want high resolution images you are unlikely to find them on free sites – likelihood there will be fees to pay.

Music Copyright, Beverley Dodd, Birmingham City University
Fundamentals of music 1) copyright© is traditional copyright for music, lyrics, artwork etc well established. 2) (p) and this applies to the sound recording itself – p = phonographic. Different copyright laws apply to music around the world. E.g. in the UK the life+70 year rule applies, but there are changes planned. The exemptions are very limited for music copyright. For examination purposes students can perform any music behind closed doors, but photocopying of music is not allowed. Noted that now music in shops has to have a license paid for it; so does that mean more musak?

The power shift in the digital age is towards to rights holder, the major corporations, extending (p) on sound recordings from 50 to 95 years; which is a pretty horrific approach. But this has come because the record companies own the recordings but not the original songs, which remain the ownership of the artist.

CLA licenses do not cover printed music, including the words. Some music cannot be purchased, it can only be hired from publishers. The PRS for Music (Performing Right Society) is the main collecting society in Britain – for live performed music must be declared to them and be licensed, even if given for free or charity. Even more true for music used to communicate to the public in the digital media. License charges vary depending on size and type of performance. Note in the US there are some exemptions for some public places e.g. Bars and Grills.

There was a suggestion of using the old postal method of protecting copyright, a sealed envelope with composition inside date stamped, for musicians to record their rights; which seemed horribly antiquated.

The PRS are very litigious and have even challenged people who work to music on their own, or in private or to horses. Note that YouTube and PRS had a spat in 2009 which saw all premium UK music videos dropped from the site for a period. Noted that some police constabulary (e.g. Wiltshire) refuse to pay the PRS fees and claim an exemption. Even a singing granny in Scotland was slapped with £1000 fee, although they backed down after a slew of negative publicity. The key here is they will pursue just about anyone they consider requires a license. There is a code of practice for University’s available from the PRS.

At BCU they have a conservatoire, and so music copyright and reuse rights are very important to them. Future music © trends as noted are tightening up and locking down. Noted wifi and the Digital Economies Bill means that universities will be required to police and cut access to any illegal use as defined by the UK’s restrictive copyright laws.

eTheses at the University of Sheffield: a case study, Clare Scott
Ethos kicked off by aiming to digitize 5000 high use theses across the country, with 500 supplied from Sheffield. Not all of these were digitized due to issues at the BL. EthOS soft launched 2008. At Sheffield works in a very similar manner to Leicester, including a period of embargo allowed for. Mandated deposit to all students registered from 2008. 3 faculties broadly in support, 2 have particular issues, and 1 is strongly opposed. Issues that have come up included:

  • Prior publication concerns
  • Book publication
  • 3rd party copyright and finding permissions
  • Plagiarism.

In practise hard copy submission will continue for 5 years (2013) and will be reviewed at that point. So far on a day to day basis it hasn’t been a massive change.

Benefits to students include readability and accessibility on a global scale. Hopefully this means their impact will be more immediate and that (eventually) download statistics will be visible. It also offers a taste of self-marketing and promotion for the student. Has helped students when they come to publish as they are seeking copyright permissions earlier that they would otherwise struggle to obtain. Embargo reasons are much the same as ours, including political sensitivity. All theses have to be uploaded, even those embargoed as they can go into the dark archive and not be made visible – but it does mean that an electronic version is available. Problems with commercial exploitation of material when a commercial company took every one of the medical depts, so need to make sure any license doesn’t allow for this to avoid conflicts with academic’s later work.

Sheffield are paying £8,000 a year towards the £40 per theses digitisation fee. Pay up front model is causing problems and concerns from students who expect university will pay. They don’t ask author permission, and in terms of older materials don’t worry about copyright and other issues – reliance on takedown policy. Librarians get asked to download and add to stock, but permission for this is not given. Result is a lot of questions remain, like changing to asking author permissions, or desire from alumni to see theses live. The problem of rising third party copyright questions will continue to rise, and if the training is sufficient to equip the students with the skills to deal with the issues.

Copyright & the cultural sector, Tim Padfield
Developments in copyright law – in policy terms copyright is most important IPO legislation, over patents which actually brings in more money. Libraries and archives are regarded as trusted intermediaries, between rights owners and users, which means it should make things easier for us to seek permissions. A contract can override copyright, and this can be a problem.

Digital Economy Bill Orphan works – Anyone can become an authorised body to license orphaned works, via application to secretary of state. However, every work must be investigated before it can become an orphaned work and so doesn’t really help facilitate mass digitisation.

Exemptions including reprographic copying to cover films and audio, to allow external access to VLEs. Exemptions don’t apply if there’s a licensing scheme in active. Notable that just because an organisation does education, does not mean it is classed as an educational establishment for the purposes of the exemption. Fair dealing is designed to expand to all forms of media beyond text; but only to work carried out by students or staff at a prescribed educational establishment (for private study or research).

Undefined terms and concepts, Tanya Alpin
The final session of the day was rather a disappointment, as it was delivered at an expert academic practitioner level and as such was all but incomprehensible to me.  While doubtless there were some in the room who could follow the legalese, considering the accessibility of the rest of the day’s sessions this was a shame. The one piece of advice I did manage to glean was on the role of originality – the less original a work is, the easier it is to reuse fairly.

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EMALink Event On Subject Librarians Part 2

Posted by selinalock on 26 March, 2010

Developing the information literacy practitioner; the OU’s training needs analysis by Wendy Mears.

  • The context of Wendy’s talk was that the OU needed to know what training information literacy librarians needed in order to learn new technology, cut the time needed for course production, and deliver increased return on income for library resources.
  • Information literacy integration in OU courses is seen as a key indicator of library success.
  • Mary Auckland undertook a training needs analysis based on the current and future demands placed on information literacy librarians.
  • This included a literature survey, conversations with key thinkers, anonymous survey of the libs (using survey monkey) and focus groups.
  • Some of the skill gaps identified were: influencing & persuasion skills (for use in meetings), making a case for information literacy in pedagogic terms, marketing & advocacy skills, assertiveness and creating generic information literacy materials.
  • There were also gaps in technical knowledge with regards to Moodle, Word, Powerpoint, Elluminate, social networking, web2.0 and Excel.
  • A development plan was produced with ten recommendations, such as librarians taking OU courses, updating job descriptions, keep a watching brief in new technologies, develop key competencies and research support skills.
  • As with anything, budget was a major factor in responding to the training needs so some needs will be met through existing channels e.g. staff developement hour (hour for training every week), appraisal process, visit from external speakers and University internal training events.
  • New initiatives included: using internal experts, bringing in external experts to provide tailored training and supporting external events/qualifications.
  • Four months in it is difficult to tell if the new training initiatives have had much impact, but it helped define librarian roles as well as training needs.
  • It highlighted existing good practice and ways to use internal resources where possible.

Students, Librarians & Marketing the Library by Becky Laing, Loughborough University.

  • Becky outlined how the library became in a marketing module that is run by the Department of Information Science for their PG students.
  • The library was asked to produce marketing briefs for the students to work on, and the students had to present their marketing pitch to the academic librarians.
  • The briefs were for marketing the library journals, subject librarians, information literacy & study skills, Metalib (library portal) and Library space.
  • The students were also given a subject librarian they could contact for more information if needed.
  • The students came up with some interesting ideas that the library found very useful. (See Becky’s slides for more info).
  • For example, they suggested a leaflet and video to advertise the subject librarians, and more targeted marketing to encourage different groups of students to use the journals.
  • The library also learnt some things about how students perceived the library services, for example, the library had been thinking about rebranding their study skills sessions with a more exciting name, but the students thought study skills was the best way to get across what it was to other students.
  • Overall the module was a big success as the students found it useful to work on real briefs, and the library will be taking some of their suggestion further.
  • So, always good to get hold of tame students!

Overall I think the most useful part of the day was the reminder to continually review what we do, where we’re heading and how to show our worth.

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EMALink Event On Subject Librarians Part 1

Posted by selinalock on 25 March, 2010

On Wednesday the 17th March, I and several colleagues from Leicester visited the Pilkington Library, Loughborough University, for the EMALink event Subject Librarians…defining their mission, measuring their impact, preparing for the future.

Subject Librarians are feeling a little uneasy about their job security these days.  This is due to events such as those at Bangor University, where several subject librarians lost their jobs, and the more recent events at Warwick University, where subject librarians had to re-apply for their jobs at a lower grade. So, the aim of this event was to look at what we do and how we can show our worth.

The Impact of Subject Librarians on their academic communities” by Lizzie Gadd, Loughborough University.

  • Loughborough did a survey of academics in the Departments of Civil & Building Engineering, English & Drama, and Materials Engineering to assess the impact subject librarians have on their communities.
  • They got a 27% return rate and felt that they were probably preaching to the converted, as the respondents were generally those already known to library staff.
  • 25 out of 29 respondents knew they had a subject librarian and 22 could name their subject librarian.
  • What was interesting was the difference in how academics rated the skills they thought subject libs should have, compared with how subject libs themselves rated the same skills.
  • Subject knowledge (not just information resources knowledge) was rated highly by academics, as was the ability to keep up to date, whereas subject libs rated subject knowledge high but not as high and thought presentation skills were pretty important.
  • When asked which services subject libs should be able to help with the academics rated the top three as copyright advice, putting content into the institutional repository and finding journal impact factors.
  • Copyright came as a surprise as the University has a copyright officer who is not based in the library.
  • What also surprised the subject libs was the glowing testimonials that accompanied the surveys,a nd which they hope to use in marketing their services at a later date.  Comments such as “Invaluable”, “Important” and “Skilled Professionals”.
  • They tried to do some social network analysis based on the responses (i.e. how the academics and subject libs were related, who knew who etc), but the sample was too small.
  • They hope to further the research with a new bid for funding and would look at widening the survey to non-users, measure departmental use of the library management system and analyse subject libs communications with academics.
  • From the findings of this initial survey they are looking at the issue of offering copyright advice, offering research impact training to Depts (which has raised the usage of JCR), and marketing the subject libs better to the academics.

What are we here for? Developing a mission statement for Subject Librarians” facilitated by Chris Martindale, Derby University.

  • Chris did a short introduction to this session musing on what is a subject librarian?
  • Are we there to improve services? As experts in our field? As a gateway to collections?
  • Are we endangered? Should we have functional skills or subject skills? Do we suffer from poor job definitions (Pinfield, S, 2001)? 
  • We should be positive in response to change/challenges.
  • What do we do? are we moving into new roles? Do we need new ways of working (Roberts & Levy, 2005)? How do we demonstrate value?
  • We then split into groups to try to write a subject librarian mission statement (see photos). Our group got distracted by talking about the differences in what we did, whether we taught and how we supported research.
  • One of the things we identified with in Chris’ talk was  being compared to “middleware”, as we sat between the library and the department, and had to represent the views both to each other.

We then broke for a speed-dating lunch, but I was too busy chatting to people to do any speed-dating!

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Web 2.0 and PEER – reports of interest

Posted by gazjjohnson on 4 February, 2010

I’m spending an hour or so this morning reading through a couple of reports.  One is from the Scottish Library & Information Council/CILIPS and is entitled A Guide to using Web 2.0 in Libraries (weighting in at a digestible 10 pages).  The other is from the LISU at Loughborough (including my team’s very own Valérie Spezi) and is called PEER Behavioural Research: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories (93 pages).

Web 2.0

This is a handy sized report that while it perhaps tells me nothing new, is an excellent synthesis of the highlights of using Web 2 and social networking within libraries.  More seriously interested librarians might find it a little light for their taste, and the lack of references for further reading does harm its scholastic qualities.  However, for those looking to get a handle on the terminology and potentialities of these tools then this is a fine introduction.  The report moves through the why use it, the benefits and then into the implementation.  It also considers the staffing and potential legal implications of Web 2 (which in itself could have probably filled the whole report).  Finally it looks at integrating Web 2 within organisational systems (human and technical).

PEER

How authors view the whole journal and repository scene today is something that’s been of interest for a few years, so I was pleased to have a read through this report.  By its very nature it is very scholarly and gives an excellent overview of the scholarly communication and publications fields developments over the last ten years.  The comments on academic’s searching habits are quite telling (a narrowing of focus and restriction to trusted searches and information sources, replacing broader views).  From a library perspective the note that the average number of articles read by academic authors has increased over the years is a shocking one, as we try and maintain journal collections against rising costs (although healthy for the interlending and open access communities)

Ave articles read/year

  • 1977: 150
  • 2000: 216
  • 2009: 280

There is a very good overview of the citation enhancement effect of open access materials – and the questions that remain to be answered in this respect.  While it is one of those qualities of a repository that we IR managers so often espouse, there is a certain truth that should we ever reach a level playing field of 100% open access, that this advantage would dwindle to nothing.

The report also covers the dynamic and changing field within which repository managers operate, and the challenges they face; not least among them engagement and education of our local academic authors.  I know personally that I am still talking to many, many authors about the same issues as I was back in 2006.  These contacts are generally very positive, but it does indicate the somewhat herculean task we still face in bringing OA up the academic agenda.  As one academic I know often says “I’ve got so many other pressing and urgent priorities, the repository just isn’t one of them”.  No wonder we’ve seen the rise of the mandate.  And this comment is mirrored on p55 of the report.

The report goes on to detail the methodology behind their work.  I was interested to see that out of over 2400 scholars invited to attend their focus groups, only 21 attended.  I will feel less down-heartened next time I have a poorly attended focus group myself.

The report then moves on to look at the findings of the academics surveyed and interviewed, with respect to repositories and open access.  I would highly recommend any repository manager, and indeed any academic with an interest in scholarly communication, to read through these results.  They make for sobering, if not at all suprising, reading – at best 30% of academics are aware they have an IR.

I was interested to note (p32) that the study suggested arts and social science academics were more likely to deposit in the IR.  Here at Leicester it has been fairly even across the board from all disciplines.  The section on drivers/barriers to deposit is worth looking at (free access in #1 driver, whereas worries over (c) infringement are the top worry).  That said (p41) shows that 2/3 of the sample feel there is a role for repositories in scholalry communications, with most of the rest unsure rather than negative.  There are some good pull out quotes in the results of the focus group, although given their small sample it’s hard to attribute any great validity to them – much as I can see myself using them in future presentations (especially the “online access doesn’t mean the same as open access”

Information seeking for open access papers relates nicely to a question was asked in Cell Physiology, and seems in this study as well that authors seldom look to OA sources to retrieve their scholarly information.  Indeed it seems the grey trade in PDFs between authors (p61) continues to be the major route to access items that they are not subscribed to in many cases.

This is a very rich report and rather than comment on their conclusions, I’d simply point you towards reading it and forming your own judgements.  I found for my own part that a lot of what they elicited matched with my experiences across a number of universities.  The one thing I didn’t get from the report (and perhaps that wasn’t their aim) was the opinion or feeling of academics towards the effectiveness and operation of their institutional repositories.  If anyone knows of any work looking at that, I’d be interested to hear about it!

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Introduction to Management in LIS and IT

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 December, 2009

Last week I spent three days on a Leadership Foundation for HE course on management, specifically aimed at Library and IT people working as middle management for the first time.  I’ve always enjoyed management training (it formed a rich part of both my previous degrees), and welcomed the opportunity to go on this.  I must say especial thanks to the Staff Development Office for funding my attendance too.

One thing I’ll be up-front about were the rules of the room – anything we discussed in-depth with real world implications had to stay in the room.  It made for a very free and frank exchange of experiences, but it’s a bit of a shame as I would love to tell people more about them.  But those where the rules, and far be it from me to breach them.

What I really learned was that a lot of people in positions similar to mine face a lot of the same challenges – and with the delegates taken entirely from HE we had a lot in common to start with, even based as we were around the UK.  Quite a bit of what we covered wasn’t new to me, although much of it was well worth going through again.  Some aspects and topics were on the other hand quite new – Edward de Bono’s colour of hats for thinking/decision making is one that really resonated with me.

The three days started with the personal, taking stock of ourselves and our skills using a Myers/Briggs test – which for most of us revealed what we already knew.  However, being aware of it allowed us to shift roles within the group exercises to make maximum advantage of our proclivities and talents.  From team roles and effective communication we shifted to people management and motivation on the second day.  Then leading, delegation along with problem solving.  The last day looked at managing yourself and real world issues and examples.

Throughout this was a very hands on, kinesthetic course with exercises, management games, discussions and tasks.  Very much my prefered way of working, although I’m still quite tired out by it all some days later.  it was just that full on an experience.  Certainly the 24 people on the course bonded quickly in the face of this shared adversity, and discussions over drinks and food continued long into the night.

Our team's effort - in 15 minutesOf especial worth of mentioning were the two extensive business management exercises.  The first looked at setting up a Dot.com buisiness from concept to pitch.  As the team (and possibly the room’s) biggest extrovert communicator I can honestly say my role as Executive Head of marketing was a plum role; indeed one of the other teams started bidding for my services.  The other exercise saw me heading a team, with very limited resources, in construction of a ship – to be judged against predefined characteristics.  While we didn’t win, our team worked effectively and efficiently – and at least we produced by far the best looking boat.

There may be an underlying metaphor there – but I’ll skip on.

If there was a low point for me it would be the talk from the real head of service.  Contrasted with the interactivity and engagement of the rest of the course it felt dry, and I can;t say I took away anything of especial value from it.  Not helped by the fellow legging it as soon as he finished talking, a debate and discussion about translating theory to practice at senior level would have been a wonderful capstone.

But I have come back with a lot to think about, and the feeling that I’m not alone in the daily challenges I face (from the minor to the not quite so).  I’d love to take some of the ideas further, and will certainly be following up some of the suggested reading to broaden my understanding of the concepts and techniques covered.

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