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Posts Tagged ‘article’

Repositories and CRIS WRN event article

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 August, 2010

Nick Sheppard, Leeds Met University (aka MrNick on twitter) has written a good article in the most recent Ariadne about the Welsh Repository Network/JISC workshop back in May looking at the interaction between CRISes* and repository systems.  As I was unable to get to this event due to prior commitments, it was good to have a chance to catch up on the discussions.

I was interested to note that a CRIS (Current Research Information Systems) can go by many names – given that the UoL Research Office often refer to them as RIMS – Research Information Management Systems.  They’re not alone as many universities seem to have renamed them as RMAS or ERA and the like.  But at their heart they are systems that not only gather in research publication data (and much more), but actively link to other systems – chief among them from my perspective interlinking with a repository.

The question “Is an IR a subset of a CRIS?” posed by one speaker (Simon Kerridge, ARMA) is an interesting one.  Having seen a number of recent CRIS vendor demos, it is one that is clearly approached in different ways by different organisations.  Some very much see the IR as a satellite system, fed largely (but not entirely) by the CRIS.  For others it is more of a subsumed system – with a visible front end peeking out, but the rest of the body absorbed by the greater whole.  I must confess so long as the workflows for such issues as rights verification and data management are still handled by the elite repository administration team I don’t have an especial problem either way.  However, if a CRIS/Repository union means that a repo is just a reflection of the CRIS data set, locked down without the additional resources embodied and ingested by the IR over and above the REF related items; well then I’m a little more uneasy.

The talk from St Andrews’ Data architect Anna Clements (which came with some interesting but not readily comprehensible diagrams) brought up the CERIF standard.  Interesting that St Andrews has been pursuing links to their repository for far longer than many other institutions, which has demonstrated the advantages of working closely together with research support personnel (something I’ve benefited from here at Leicester in the past two years and can heartily concur).

Meanwhile William Nixon and Valerie McCutchean of Glasgow gave a very useful overview of the integration of the repository with a CRIS.  I was able to plot from my own experiences whereabouts we are in this process here at Leicester.  They raised a valuable point about author authorities – something that has long concerned me as an issue to which I don’t have a ready solution.  In some regards I’m hoping the CRIS implementation here will allow us to tackle and resolve this at that point – given that unique IDing of authors is something that is key for bibliometrics and REF returns alike.  I notice William doesn’t appear to have offered a solution though in his talk, which is perhaps a slight concern for me.  I wonder how difficult it is going to be to match an author of a non-REF item that routes into the repository from beyond the CRIS with the institutional verfiied author list.  And what about external additional authors?  I suspect this is going to be a major issue for me and my team to resiolve and one that I’d welcome external insight on.

Finally my old friend Jackie Knowles talked about the pitfalls of implementation – most of which I am, thankfully, already well aware.  I think we definiely need more of these warts and all case study examples though; as at the end of the day those of us working at the sharp end of repository/CRIS interlinking will need to know how to work around so many of them.

It sounds like this was an excellent day (and perhaps in serious need for near future repeating!) and a definite must read artilce for anyone about to establish, or already working towards, a CRIS/Repository interlink.


Posted in Open Access, Research Support | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The End of Institutional Repositories! (or not)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 July, 2009

I’ve just been reading an article “Basefsky, Stuart. (2009). The end of institutional repositories and the begining of social academic research service: An enhanced role for libraries.“.  With such a shocking title you’d expect revlations of a major order, and to be honest the opening page or so does rather continue in that vein.  Indeed there’s a slightly superior author style that runs through the whole paper that rather grated on me as I read it.  That said Stuart does raise some interesting points on the first couple of pages about the driving forces and assumptions behind the creation of institutional repositories (IR).

The idea behind the paper is that librarians and academics should be working together more closely, using social media and other tools in support of the research process of a whole.  I can certainly support that, and hope through the local contacts I have via twitter here at UoL that in some small way I’m already offering that level of service.

He goes on to consider the generally understood paradigm underlying IRs (the shop window/increased exposure to academic research) to be only one opportunity – as he puts it “Is this all the value we can extract from an IR?”.  This is a theme I was hoping he’d explore in more detail later in the paper, but this rather seems to disappear as the second half of the paper dissolves into an effective list of “things I am doing”, rather than maintaining this earlier scholastic tone.

He does make some good points along the way nevertheless.  When talking about the partnership twixt libraries and institutional repositories he comments

“Libraries welcomed this attention since they were fearful of being marginalised…IR would help the library maintain an important role in academic life in this time of disruptive technological change”

However, he than makes some rather caustic comments about the lack of vision of library services, suggesting their involvement in repositories is merely an attempt to maintain visibility and apparent viability in the new media age; rather than an actualised devotion to enabling further scholastic endeavour.  I take issue with these statements somewhat.  Perhaps two or three years ago this was a more robust argument, but certainly in the major research universities like Leicester this is not so.  The repository is at the heart of the institutions preparations for REF and visibility of research.  As the repository manager increasingly my time is spent working with the Research Office, or discussing research visibility issues with our academics, helping them do more with what we have.  Not to mention making them aware of the developing scholastic publishing landscape.

The next third of the paper focuses more inwardly on the Catherwood Library, so is of less immediate interest or relevance to the casual reader.  However, with this framework the author then extends his views point to wider library scene; pausing only for a barbed comment about library leadership that I shall pass over.

He does have a salient point here that I agree with “too many libraries take the attitude that if they build it users will come”.  I think this is an unfortunate truism about the library sector.  We have many enthusiasts for new services and resources, and too often we offer them on an already overloaded information platter.  As a LIS researcher and project manager at heart, I always believe that we should be answering real needs with our services and making informed decisions based on an strong evidence base.  Indeed he spends the next page making his argument, which seems useful if overlong by the end.

As I mentioned earlier the rest of the paper is a guide to services that the author has employed in the deliverance and indeed furtherance of the research support agenda.  It seems strangely at odds with the earlier half of the paper, moving to pure practicality from scholastic theory and review.  In many regards I would have been interested to read this in some more detail as a paper in its own rights.

Finally he devotes the last page to suggested new directions and possibilities for supporting academic endeavour.  However, what he fails to do (IMHO) is explain the challenge of his title.  Throughout the work whilst he points out the arguable flaws in IRs and their implementation and exploitation by libraries and institutions, he does not clearly to my mind exposit exactly why IRs days are (in his view) numbered.

Thus this is a flawed but detailed and intriguing article to read that anyone working with research support, IRs or indeed academic libraries should take a few minutes to glance through.  You may have other insights that differ to mine, so let me know your thoughts!

Posted in Open Access, Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »