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Posts Tagged ‘project’

Summer School for Repository Managers 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 June, 2010

Madingley Hall, Cambridge - venue for the RSP summer schoolA week or so ago I attended the RSP summer school at Madingley Hall, University of Cambridge.  The Summer School has been running for three or four years now (I helped organise the first one) but until now I’d never found the right time to attend.  Originally these three day focussed study events were aimed at first time repository managers, but clearly the support remit of the RSP has broadened considerably.  It could be seen from the delegate who ran the breadth of experience from old hands like myself or Graham Stone (Huddersfield, and UKCoRR chair) through to people only just taking their first steps. 

To cover an event in any real depth would take far too many lines of text, so what I’ll attempt to do here is try and capture a flavour of the event, with any especial highlights. 

Day 1
As with all events day one began with the gathering of the 20 or so delegates from across the country, some of whom had been travelling since before 5am in order to get there.  Following an introduction to event from Dominic Tate and Jackie Wickham of the RSP we moved to an ice-breaker exercise, creating a poster to encapsulate the discrete elements that make up a repository – and then selling them to the group at large.  There were some interesting insights that came out here including the challenges of the REF, working with academics as well as the technological barriers to progress.  In many respects this was a good opportunity for some reflection on our advocacy work and the differing messages to different stakeholder groups. 

After tea the first talk was from Tanya Abikorr of MIT Open CourseWare.  Her focus was more on educational repositories than institutional, and was possibly of more interest to those working on coursepack digitisation.  What was very interesting to note was the size of the MIT team working on this (at least 7 full time staff), and some of the comments about what is permissable under US copyright law.  As one of the speakers on day 2 pointed out, UK copyright law is actually far more restrictive than this.  Finally Graham Stone talked about the Huddersfield repository experience in some depth. 

Day 2
The second day was the most hectic and packed, and despite a cancellation of the first speaker the delegates engaged in a long (possibly overlong) session on IPR, copyright and repositories from Laurence Bebbington (Aberdeen University).  There was much of value in what Laurence had to say, although at times it seemed to take him at his word on what is and is not permissable would freeze developments in the repository field.  He was followed by Bill Hubbard (CRC, Nottingham University) looking at institutional mandates and compliance.  While few delegates had an OA mandate, most institutions represented are considering implementing them in one form or another.  There was a considerable amount of talk focussed on the carrots we can offer, contrasted with the more stick like mandates, during this session too. 

Following a brief update on the RSP’s work from Dominic, David Davies (University of Warwick) presented the results of some research looking at what people look for when searching for online learning resources.  I must confess that I found David’s talk hard to follow, and while the discovery and exposure of the contents of our repositories is often paramount in my mind, I found it problematic to join what he was espousing with our every day practice.  The day was capped by the delightful Robin Armstrong-Viner (Aberdeen University) who gave a fascinating talk looking at how a repository and CRIS can work together in practice.  While a few technical hitches denied Robin the practical demonstration he’d planned at the end, it was still fascinating insight as to how a CRIS can change the workflows and relationships that repository staff have within an institution for the better. 

Day 3
The final day was very practically focussed with a reflective session on advocacy from Dominic echoing at least in part some of the previous two days activities and coverage.  One thing that was clear from delegate comments is that there is still much work to be done in this regard within most if not all institutions; and that we should not be downhearted by the repetition that is required.  We also touched briefly on the some of the work of May’s RSP Advocacy workshop.  complementing Dominic’s session nicely was Nicky Cashman (Aberystwyth University) who gave a fine overview of using statistics as a tool.  While the mathematical components weren’t new to me, some of the approaches and uses to which Nicky puts them had me scribbling notes for future consideration. 

The final full session from Ian McCormick (ARMA) was a little disappointing.  As an overview of ARMA it was fine, however as to the role at which repository managers, UKCoRR and RSP could play in tandem with the organisation this was much less clear.   What was clear from the delegates was increasingly we are all working more closely with our research office type colleagues with whom we share much more commonality on many issues than those in the libraries within which many repositories are based. the sun

Image courtesy of Misha Jepson

Overall though it is safe to say that this was an excellent and information packed event.  The opportunities for networking (and in my case to also lose at croquet twice) were especially very valuable, and continued throughout the delicious meals and long into the night.  I’ve returned to work with a much greater insight into what is going on across the country, as well as numerous practical ideas to apply within our repository work.  As is always the case at these kind of events in one way or another we are all facing similar challenges ranging from academic engagement, compliance, deposition, changing copyright environment, staffing challenges and of course the REF.  But what is heartening is the number of different ways in which people have found to meet these; and while not all are applicable to Leicester’s environment many are. 

Slides from the event can be found here.

Posted in Open Access, Staff training | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mothballing the SM@LL project

Posted by gazjjohnson on 1 July, 2009

Just in case you missed the earlier posts here and on the ScienceLeicester blogs, I’ve just posted about the feedback we had for the SM@LL project from the funders.  For now, any future discussions about similar projects will be over on this blog – so leave us in your RSS feeds folks!

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lincoln SUETr Event (Feb 10th 2009) – enhancing your repository

Posted by gazjjohnson on 11 February, 2009

Yesterday I went over to arctic Lincoln for a SUETr (Start-Up and Enhancement Training) repository related event; which was introduced by Steph Taylor (UKOLN). What follows are my notes on the day.

Julian Beckton talked about embedding a dual purpose repository at Lincoln – hosting research and learning objects within the same environment. Initially it got external funding, but there were issues over getting staff resource. It started as an archive for student projects, but had to deal with some unusual teaching materials (3D) models but difficulties of visual browsing. He demonstrated the MACE Project visual object browser as an ideal best practice example, but one far beyond what they were funded to create. In trying to bring about innovation within the institution and the team considered using the Collis & Moonen 4-Es model (1991) and the Rogers Diffusion of Innovation (1962) approaches. Ease of use was a concept that was highlighted in both these models, and something that Julian suggested was not exemplified by repositories.

He contrasted the discovery of vitamin C and the 200 years for this to be adopted as S.O.P. for Navy, as opposed to rapid up take of new weaponry and ship design. People implement what they understand, and this is true for repositories – most academics don’t really understand what they’re for and why they’re there; with the knock on effect that engagement with them is reduced. Lincoln’s repo automatically transcodes many multimedia formats into flash animations for ease of viewing, but you are still able to download the original format. Noted that many learning objects (e.g. powerpoints of lecture slides) have a short life-span, and aren’t an ideal ingest for a learning object repository. Lincoln has added social bookmarking tools (e.g. RSS, commenting and user-tagging).

Next moves are a full launch, repository advocacy (local champions) and statistics. Comments in discussion that followed about the importance of good data in the repo accessible via common protocols, far more important than building a sophisticated local service layer. This is something I have to agree with, the underlying repository and data must work well and be accessible; after all statistics continue to show that few end-users come to a repository via the home page. Access is at the object level.

Steph Taylor talked briefly about her role at Bath as both a repository project person and author. Then she opened the floor to debate turning to look first at policies and S.O.P, a topic SUETr (and myself) will be returning to at the event at the National Library of Wales next week. An interesting comment from one institution where if a research output isn’t in the repository it’s not counted in research returns. Discussion ranged around mandates, author pays funding streams and sustainability.

Sally Rumsey, from Oxford Uni was next and started off by talking about repository branding and the route of access to the objects in the repository.  Oxford University is not just looking at the repo as a silo of output, and is very much considering digital archiving for the long time. Lots of large collections available to them that they can put into their storage. Sally talked about the advantage of making local digital collections available globally, and how this is a very desirable thing to the global scholarly community. Their Fedora based system underpins effectively multiple repositories (e.g. an image collection, special collections) as well as the ORA (Oxford University Research and Archive). Notably as the ORA was there first, they are able to drive the standards for these other repositories.

Lincoln CampusShe looked at ROAR, Intute RS and OAIster as resources for increasing visibility of repository contents; and how they are not well known by the common librarian or academic. Then it was looking at OAI-ORE and how it can take entire digital objects from repositories and reuse rather than just the metadata. Sally suggested that this is something that will be occurring more as the repository field matures. More complex objects are being ingested, and OAI-ORE may help with their curation and sourcing. Google remains the primary route into repositories, and making sure objects are exposed to it is a major route to enhancing user and reuse. UUIDs (Universal Unique Identifiers) are being used as these are very unique and persistent Ids that for the foreseeable future they should identify the object in the repository and no other. Possibility to use these as a Google search to ID the item and any citations to the original object, which will have a knock on effect for bibliometrics, though this is only just beginning to happen as most papers are too new to get many citations. Sally went through the statistics package that Oxford uses (PikiWiki) showing that virtually all discoveries of objects within the repository are via Google. GoogleScholar was noted as being more variable in finding repository items, even Oxford is ignored a lot – this seems to a problem across the sector that GoogleScholar is somewhat biased in search results returned.

Next Sally talked about development, focussing on her experiences with Fedora Commons, nothing that Australia and the US are leading in this area. Oxford are developing a semantic web architecture with Talis. She also highlighted the work of CRIG (Common Repository Interface Group) and their active developments – cutting edge but sometimes scary. Oxford are very involved with data archiving, but still early days and exploring the various issues around it is quite challenging. Oxford are involved in a range of projects such as the PRIUS (Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics) project – one that will be of considerable interest to any bibliometricians. Other projects mentioned include BID, PRESERV, BRII and DataShare Project. Notable Oxford has one full time dedicated developer working for the repository as well a range of other support staff; and that their involvement in these many projects is only possible due to their number of dedicated repository staff.

Sally noted her involvement in the wider repository scene is one way in which the ORA is made more visible globally, as well as learning what other people are doing. Sally mentioned that like Leicester, conferences at Oxford can have their papers hosted on the repository – the onetime non-Oxford academics are allowed to deposit. Finally she looked at the time commitments for the repository staff, and the need to be choosey about what they commit to be involved in within the wider profession. As a result of its successes Oxford University has been involved in all this global activity as a result of their work, not as a goal for their activities.

After lunch Lucy Keating, Newcastle, how to add value to repositories. Lucy spoke as an enthusiast and not an expert, and made a disclaimer that many of the things she was going to be talking about were not going to be embraced by her institutions; rather they were ideas and inspirations for the whole community. Newcastle’s repository began in 2005, but was more fully developed in 2007 with her appointment with a focus on articles and papers (6,000 items of which 25% are full text). Lucy demonstrated the repository, which displays the number of downloads per item for all to see; as a way of encouraging more access as well as transparency of simple metrics. Lucy noted that she has about 44% response rate to her enquiries and requests to academics. The university is developing an in-house MyImpact research information service (working along the same lines as Symplectic). The repository is going to be fully integrated to the RIS – which should reduce the interaction the academics are required to perform to record their research outputs and archive their papers.

She noted the involvement with the RIS and REF has opened doors that would otherwise be shut. She posed the question – what else can our repositories do beyond OA, preservation and description? She looked through some of the widgets that Les Carr at Southampton has suggested. She touched on mandates, and her personal reluctance to engage with them. They needed more thought before they’re introduced; it’s an all stick and no-carrot route to populating repositories. Other things that could be possible enhancers included enabling interaction and allowing others to form groups and make associations (e.g. tagging and rating) not just formal citations. Displaying content in different ways – visualising content – image wall, previews, tag cloud or broadening the context of the ingest. Finally she talked about ensuring the marketing department can link to original articles in the repository from press releases.

Some comments in discussion that engaging marketing staff on the right level, and on message, can be actually quite difficult. Then some challenging questions about how the repository could generate income or save time for the institution? She advocated the idea that the repository should be integrated into the research workflow, not something that happens at the end of the research process. Will repositories replace, supplement or merge with journals (the concept of overlay journals) is a challenging idea, and one that some repositories and academics are already beginning to exploit. A Group work session looking at case studies followed

Finally Mary Robinson from SHERPA talked about the international dimension of the institutional repository. Mary showed the 1,300 repositories in OpenDOAR, of which about 1,000 are IRs. Mary talked on some similar issues to Sally about making your repository more visible. She noted that there is a need to be proactive in marketing your repositories towards some of the international services, rather than waiting for them to find you. She listed certain guides to ensuring how your repository is visible, drawn from work on the OpenDOAR survey. Mary then moved to talk about the DRIVER project, which worked with European Repositories to provide an infrastructure that other services can plug into to aid repository discovery. DRIVER provides tools for subject communities for academics and tools for bringing together groups of repositories through a single access point (e.g. Spain).

She next turned to the DRIVER Confederation which tries to draw together a global voice for repositories, working with agencies and other stakeholders in the OA world. DRIVER online tool can automatically test the DRIVER guidelines, though currently running on the old version of the validation rules. Mary gave an overview of DRIVER’s activities and resources, including the Mentor service – which is something that I am sure we in Leicester could potentially get involved in.

The day finished with wrap up discussions and final points of interest.  Slides for the event are available.  Also my twitter feed on the event too:

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »