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Posts Tagged ‘academics’

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.

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

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!

Posted in Open Access, Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A challenge – what are the three best articles about open access ?

Posted by gazjjohnson on 16 November, 2009

What are the three best articles on open access? 

Not the ones that I might like but the key ones that I should/could/might get my academics to read. 

Not necessarily ones that will have them convinced or arch-evangalising left right and centre, but ones that really give a rich overview of the topic.  Ones that even bring some academic rigour to the discipline, some facts and figures as much as hearts and minds.  Ones, like the THE, that take a look at all the stakeholders and try to offer a dispassionate overview (or as dispassionate as it is possible to get!).

They don’t have to be peer reviewed, they can be reports, they can be briefings, they can be conference papers – they just have to be accessible and credible.

And here’s the trick – they have to be available, in full-text in an open access repository!  Suggestions welcomed and indeed warmly invited – but no more than three per commenter!!!

Posted in Open Access | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »