The third and final day dawned a little grey, but there was little time to admire the scenery as we had to kick off before 9am in order to fit everything in. The first session was from Ruth Murray-Wedster from Lucidus Consulting . Ruth used to work for Intute, which was very noticeable as about half her opening section seemed to be an advert for the late and somewhat lamented service. Thankfully the real meat of the session was a workshop, in small groups again, looking at metrics/KPIs and repositories. As someone who keeps a fair amount of these (and whom will be working on them a lot this week) I was quite interested to see what other people are doing in this area. In the workshop we looked at metrics we had been asked to keep by our stakeholders, those we felt offered an actual representative view of the repository activity and the challenges that prevent us from gathering some of these.
I suggested I would love to know how far people read through items in my repository, that something has been downloaded 500 times is one thing – but how far did they read? This is a stat that YouTube provides for your videos on the site, and is an excellent way to discover just how many of your viewers have engaged with the material. In the same way the base metric of downloads tells me nothing about the interaction with the scholarly research; although short of locking the PDFs down to view only mode or the like on the LRA I’m unaware of how we’d measure this one.
I had a very interesting side discussion with Paul Stainthorp and Theo Andrews about our own use of Google Analytics, and just how deep we each delved (or didn’t) into the schmorgesborg of data that this provides. Interestingly in many aspects each of our respective repositories seems to score similar values for, although the devil is very much in the details. Our group agreed that many of the metrics that are demanded of us (last year’s SCONUL audit came in for particular criticism for being somewhat poorly thought out) are not especially representative of the level of impact or activity w.r.t. repositories; no doubt due to most of them being requested by those who were not familiar with the repository world’s working. A definite need for those of us managing these resources to engage with these people more, or perhaps a lobbying/information role for both the RSP and UKCoRR.
After a break (and an advert for UKCoRR) we had the final two sessions of the morning. Personally I would have reversed the order of these sessions as the final one from Amanda Hodgson on the Research Communications Strategy work from the CRC offered little content I’d not already gleaned from their website. Perhaps when their work is more advanced this session might have more to offer. However, the preceding session from Miggie Pickton (Northampton) on her project researching researchers through their data was more engaging. Miggie even engaged us in a small workshop element as we looked at our own experiences, and tied in nicely to the sessions the previous day from Max and Mark. it also tied into elements of digital preservation and curation, a topic no one talk had tackled but a recurrent theme in many.
And so the Winter School came to a close. It had been a highly valuable three days, in what can only be described as a first class venue (squeaking door aside), and a credit to Jackie and her team for putting it on. My thanks to all the speakers and organisers! At the very least I’ve taken away the thought that me and my team face a lot of the same challenges as other repository teams, even where their exact circumstances and working environments are different. That alone brings a certain level of comfort.
What’s next? Well I’m hoping to read through the slides from the various speakers over the coming days again and perhaps pick up on one or two elements that I only half caught at the time, or that perhaps might spur me and my team on in our work in the coming year.