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JISCrte End of Projects Event Feb 2012

Posted by gazjjohnson on 10 February, 2012

Friday 10th Feb saw me attending this end of project event at the rather nice Nottingham Trent Conference centre.  What follows are my notes from the day (typed whilst at the event) so apologies for any typos!  My thanks to the RSP for facilitating the day.

Balviar Notay gave an overview of the JISCrte programme to start the day.  There are a fair number of projects in this programme, but while I had heard of some of these projects I’d certainly not heard of all of them.,  Is that a flaw in the projects themselves – or perhaps promotion and awareness wasn’t a core part of their agenda.  Certainly looking around the room today there are very few people present whom are not involved directly in these projects – a bit of an echo chamber/silo problem – or should they be all working closer with UKCoRR?  Balviar did flag up the work of UK Repository Net+ project and it’s innovation zone, something that I think everyone in the UK repository community will be working with increasingly over the nest two years.  RIO Extension – mapping the repository metadata requirements  was flagged up; a project about which I went to a very interesting meeting on Weds with the RCUK, JISC and other people.

Next Marie-Therese Gramstadt was up next talking about eNova which worked on enhancing the MePrints tool.  Interestingly this is an EPrints tool; once again in the UK DSpace repositories feel a bit outside the room.  DSpace is the most popular repository platform in the world, but in the UK the Southampton based EPrints dominates the community.  That is not to say that there are not lessons to take away from this, but they aren’t products that we can directly apply at Leicester.

Interestingly this MePrints appears to offer the functionality for individual researchers (a dashboard of sorts) that I would dearly love to introduce on LRA – essentially Staff Profile pages.

Next Beth Lunt from DMU talked about the EXPLORER project – starting off by talking to their academics and discovering that many of them were unaware of the repository (something I’ve found sadly familiar).  The project then went on to bring about a number of developments for their DSpace repository – although adapting EPrints code isn’t possible as the two systems are not compatible at all.  Part of the upgrade is to KULTERise the repository.  DORA now has a UI that is much nicer than the out of the box DSpace.  Bitstreams in DORA also now have thumb prints of the objects within them, hence you can even see the front page of the PDF.

Interestingly they have improved name authorities but in a way that sounds like it wouldn’t work with a CRIS like we have.  This is a shame as standardising name authorities has long been a holy grail for the LRA.  Indeed one of the things that is clear is that being linked to a CRIS brings with it new advantages in terms of population, but it also introduces considerable limitations in terms of how much development and customisation you can do with the repository.  Given a lot of the projects that I’ve heard about today are talking about repos as single objects not as part of an integrated institutional information infrastructure; this is a bit of a concern.

After tea Jackie Wickham spoke about the RSP Embedding repositories guide and self assessment tool, stressing the importance of sharing the research with the world and raising the Universities’ profile globally.  There are three main ways in which they looked at embedding repositories.  The first one is where it acts as a publication database (e.g. where you don’t have a CRIS like IRIS), the second is like Leicester where a link with the CRIS  exists and finally a third option where the repository is embedded as part of the CRIS (not a satellite system).

Richard Green spoke next about Hydra in Hull, a spin off from the Hydrangea demonstrator project.  The plan was to use this to develop a successor to their Fedora based eDocs repository; which was enabled to be interactive with other systems.  It was launched in Sept 2011 and other unis are taking up the use of the code.  The codebase allows the,m to restrict access across multiple levels (so students, or local or academics or open access) – if unable to access you can’t see it.

William Nixon from Glasgow closed the morning off with an exemplar of embedding repositories with the Enlighten experience.  Noted there’s always a gap between funding the projects and getting the outputs of projects embedded and taken up within repositories workflows.  He stressed getting embedded is about getting stitched into the fabric of the institution culturally, technically and holistically. Embedding seems to be very much about working with administrators, academics, marketing, HR and researchers as a regular activity, not a one off.  Having these relationships is crucial, because it means you are “in the room” when important decisions are made.

Once again William demonstrated a repository that has the author at it’s heart with their own pages, and the ability to retrieve information on their available publications and usage.  Looking at Enlightened journey to being embedded it is easy to pick out the things we’ve done with LRA, but also the things we’re missing still – funding information, feeding profile pages and author disambiguation being key among them IMHO.  William commented that no repository can be supremely successful with only library staff involved on a daily basis; and I can well appreciate that – though there is the daily challenge of getting/keeping other members of the institutions engaged and onboard.

After lunch Robin Burgess was sadly not appearing so no sing-a-long a presentation, but Laurian Williamson filled in talking about RADAR. No, not that radar but the project at the Glasgow School of Art.

“He” was followed by Xiaohong Gao talking about MIRAGE which focussed on archiving of 3D medical images, in two phases – creation to archiving and then from archiving to creation.  This looks like a very interesting project, specially when you consider the potential not just for storing but locating and retrieving three dimensional data constructs from medicine and other disciplines; especially I’m thinking of Physics and Genetics.

Finally Miggie Pickton from Nectar came on to talk about her repository and embedding activity.  She noted she’d made great strides in making the repository the definitive location for research outputs.  One of the highlights of the improvements is to have the KULTURised version of the front page of the repository.  Another key point was that policy is driven by research committee, not the library – for advocacy and academic buy in this is essential.  Interestingly the VC for Northampton has offered the use of his University residence as a venue for the next Open Access week event – something I was awed by, such engagement from such a senior level is simply incredible.

The day finished with a breakout discussion session on embedding where we all exchanged our ideas and reflected on some of the points of the day.

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Technology & Devices | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

RSP Winter School: Day 3

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 February, 2011

You can read about Day 1 or Day 2 here.

See, it wasn't worth being there on a day like thisThe 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.

Jackie brings the Winter School to a closeAnd 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.

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

RSP Winter School: Day 2

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 February, 2011

(You can read about Day 1 here.)

Day two opened with lightly less overcast skies, and Jackie Wickham giving an overview of the work of the RSP; past and future.  This was followed by Max Wilkinson from the British Library talking about their Datasets Programme; which I was especially looking forward to hearing.  It was interesting to hear about an area, which by accord, most of the room wasn’t doing a great deal about practically.  That data sets are of a volume magnitudes greater than the publications that most repositories deal with is no surprise, and that most repository softwares are not especially great ay handling them wasn’t either.  I was hearted to hear that the BL are working in this area, and appear to be thinking about it at a national level.  I must confess that personally I’d expect that a national solution for data sets repository is more likely to be effective than a local one; but thinking that and seeing it happen are two very different things.

Me, watching Keith's talk - I kid you not!Then Prof Keith Jeffery from euroCRIS/STFC gave a talk which…well it was very information rich.  I described the talk afterwards as akin to the “last 30 minutes of 2001, only without a monolith”.  Keith was nominally talking about euroCRIS but this was almost submerged in the presentation that whipped past with terms half known and unknown.  There was certainly a worth in hearing someone as plugged in at the national level to STEM work as Keith; it was unfortunate that his talk wasn’t really pitched at a sufficiently practical level for those in the room.  I shall however, look forward to re-reading his slides (assuming the RSP shares them) at my leisure, over perhaps a day.

Next up was Mark Cox from King’s College talking about the Readiness4REF project.  Leicester has been slightly involved in this project, with respect to CERIF so some of what Mark ta;lked about was familiar to me.  I came out of this talk taking away the message that making sure your repository is CERIF compliant will make it faster, more effective and ready to interact with the wider community; which can only be a good thing.

Repository junction broker system outlinedAnd then he was followed by Theo Andrew from EDINA who presented what I can only describe as THE talk of the conference for me.  Theo outlined a world where a lot of work is repeated at different institutions, where three co-authors at different unis are each asked to make a deposit of a copy of their paper, with varying levels of success and engagement.  The Repository Junction project proposes to streamline this, so that when one academic deposits, the software seeks out the repositories of the other authors and punts the paper into their verification and deposit workflows.  William Nixon (Glasgow) refered to it as a killer app and to be frank I think if it works he won’t be proved wrong.  Theo’s only working with a limited number of institutions but the plans are to expand out to a larger group; and I like many in the room I can imagine would be only be too happy to be involved!  I’ll be following the project blog with interest.

After a delicious lunch (which made me glad I skipped breakfast) Balviar Notay from JISC spoke about the Take Up and Embedding Programme projects, which was I admit a bit of a blur of acronyms.  All the same some interesting work is going to be carried out under this banner.

She was followed by a workshop session fronted by Jackie Wickham and four willing helpers, which ran into the early evening.  Four facilitators (Miggie Pickton, Nicky Cashman, Jill Golightly and Rachel Proudfoot) moved around four groups and spent 30 minutes discussing issues related to their own projects, locals and experiences.  The small group format allowed for a more intimate level of discussion than might have been enjoyed in the whole group.  I must confess that the first couple of these sessions did little for me (other than further developing my sense that Glasgow has done so much that many of us will struggle to ever achieve their level of success!).  However, the sessions with Nicky and Rachel were much more suited to my personal interests and certainly clarified one or two ideas I’ve been having of late about the LRA and our future direction. 

The day’s sessions was followed by the conference dinner, and repository related discussions and exchanges which lasted long into the night (I lasted ’til around 11.30 but then had to call it a night). An intensive, packed day with a lot for me to reflect on and revisit now I’m back at Leicester.

(You can read about Day 3 here)

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

RSP Winter School 2011: Day 1

Posted by gazjjohnson on 10 February, 2011

Amramthwaite Hall Hotel, Front LawnWednesday saw me make the long trek up to the top of the Lake District to Armathwaite Hall hotel and the RSP’s winter school.  Like the summer school these are small, intimate gatherings of repository workers to share experiences and learn from one another.  It’s all a little more focussed than your average conference and more akin to an OU summer school sort of thing.  We’re expected to work, not just simply sit here and listen; although it would also be nice to wander the grounds or visit the spa…if there was just the time!

Day one kicked off with a tasty lunch before Jackie of the RSP opened proceedings (in place of Bill Hubbard who unfortunately had called off sick).  Following an ice breaker (which involved a lot of movement and talking) we had the keynote from Salford University’s Vice-Chancellor Martin Hall.  Martin is very switched on to the modern electronic communication environment (the first VC to tweet) and gave an impassioned overview of the importance of open access to the modern scholarly institution – underlined with the economic importance of it as much as the research world.

Martin speaksHe suggested the future for repositories is increasingly going to be centralised and national level, and that local institutional repositories may in time go the way of the dinosaur.  Although, this said he admitted this would take make years to arrange, and given the competitive nature of many institutions might be easier said than done.

It was great to hear a senior institutional manager who really understands the role of open access and repositories, and a great way to really kick the school off.  After Martin the event went from the sublime to…well me.  I was drafted in at the last minute to give a reflections of the summer school 2010 talk.  I can’t claim it’s the most polished talk I’ve given, but seemed to go down well.

We had a short evening break, and then we moved into a debate between Green and Gold open access as the final route.  Personally I still think the truth is a hybrid model, but it certainly was good to hear a former RSP member (Dominic Tate) debate with one of the newest (Emily Nimmo).  Then we moved onto dinner and informal discussions.

Oh tweets from the event are tagged #rspws11

And day two, looks even more packed.

Read about Day 2 and Day 3 here

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

Open Access: the impact for libraries and librarians (RSP Event)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 December, 2010

As a special Monday treat – here’s the third guest post from my team, this time from Valérie Spezi.

I went to a very interesting conference last Friday on Open Access and its impact on libraries and librarians, organised by the Repository Support Project (RSP). As usual with RSP events the conference was very well organised, including venue and catering, and the selection of speakers was of great quality.

The conference was well-attended, mostly by librarians from all over the UK and across sectors, which wasn’t really surprising given the title of the conference. Librarians from the Higher Education sector formed the bulk of the audience; but it was nice to see that there were also a few publisher and funding agency representatives, as well as information and library consultants.

The conference objective was to provide librarians with greater knowledge of Open Access, what it is and what it isn’t, how it is currently developing and shaping scholarly communication systems and what impact it’s having on libraries. Far from preaching Open Access at any costs, the selection of speakers offered a balanced view of what is achievable within Open Access and what isn’t.

Bill Hubbard started off the conference day with a presentation setting out the background to Open Access (OA), i.e. what OA is and what it isn’t, and what the rationale supporting OA and the drivers are. Open Access for most of us simply means ‘open to read’ (including cache, save and print), and most materials available today on Open Access are open in this way. But it was interesting to learn that the original idea in the Budapest vision started out with a more unifying view of an open world where material would be open to read and re-use. However the reality proved to be much more complex and made it difficult to achieve this ideal of a total open information world. Then, Bill presented the usual drivers for OA (serial crisis, moral case, financial rationale and academic need to have speedy access to scholarship). More importantly, Bill added an additional driver: ‘because we can!’, meaning that we are witnessing major changes in the information environment, and Open Access is one of these major changes taking place and it can’t be ignored as we have the technology and all the good reasons to do it. Finally, Bill went through the usual misconceptions about OA (subversion of peer review, replacement for publication, invitation to plagiarism and an attack on copyright) and explained why these arguments against OA were erroneous or even sometimes illogical. In conclusion, it was suggested that what is needed to build OA are systems and workflows to support researchers, institutions and funders, who all seem to be favour of Open Access but are facing great challenges individually.

The second speaker was Alma Swan, from Key Perspectives Ltd, who has done a great deal of work on scholarly communication and Open Access (it is only fair to note that she and her business partner pioneered key research studies on researchers’ attitudes towards Open Access in 2004/05). Alma’s talk was about the economics of OA. The aim of her talk was to present the costs and savings at system levels (Houghton et al. report [2009]) and at university level (Swan [2010]). She presented first, in great details, the results of the Houghton et al. report, which looks at costs and savings in three different OA scenarios (self-archiving or green access; repository archiving with overlay services; open access journal or gold OA). She then moved on to her own work which builds upon the Houghton report as she used the Houghton methodology to build a limited number of case studies looking at costs and savings at institutional level.

In conclusion, the main idea from Alma’s talk was that universities differ greatly and therefore results differ greatly from one institution to another: whereas the Houghton report indicated that the UK scholarly communication system as a whole could enjoy substantial savings across the sector, Alma’s work indicate that research-intensive institutions may end up yielding negative savings (i.e. paying a cost) in the move towards Open Access, and therefore the national OA savings case needs to be managed so that some universities are not individually disadvantaged.

Following on was the interesting talk from Wim van der Stelt, Executive Vice President Corporate Strategy at Springer, one of the biggest STM publishing houses. Beside the presentation of the various open access options offered by Springer, Wim made a few interesting points:

  • Firstly, Springer has adopted the strong Open Access position, meaning that all their open access content is open to read and to re-use as in the Budapest initiative, save for commercial purposes. The main reason for this was according to Wim the fact that it seems that end-users generally don’t care about copyright and hence Springer’s decision to go strong OA in order to simplify copyright policies. Wim emphasised the fact that Springer leaves the copyright to authors and is generally happy with just a licence to publish.
  • Secondly, Wim bluntly took on the role of publishers in today’s scholarly communication system. If publishers’ role in distributing or disseminating scholarship was acknowledged as a thing of the past, it was however said that publishers create value-added services to their authors – though what exactly those value-added services consisted of was not really debated.  In short, Wim reminded the audience that publishers are in the scholarly communication market to make money first and foremost, thus the legitimacy of open access embargoes enabling publishers to ‘rightly’ monetise on content. So, yes to Open Access as long as there is a business model, and BMC, recently acquired by Springer, has certainly proved that Open Access can be extremely lucrative. But Wim also insisted on the fact that publishers are equally eager to please their customers, i.e. the research community, and thus Springer wouldn’t go down the open access route if it was felt that there was no demand for this from the research community they serve.
  • Thirdly, Wim talked about the difficulty to introduce new OA journals as they often bear huge fees whereas they still have not yet yield any impact factors.

Wim concluded his speech by saying that it was believed that OA would stay as a complementary business model; a conclusion I understood was also shared by some of the speakers present at the conference. As Bill repeated several times, Open Access is not THE solution to today’s scholarly communication failures; it’s only one of the components of the changes scholarly communication is going through.

Susan Ashworth, Assistant director for Research and Learning Support services, presented the development of Enlighten, the University of Glasgow’s research repository holding just over 35,000 records (but only 3,600 full-text items). Susan talked about the organisational/staff structure of Enlighten, and it was interesting to see that the University of Glasgow went for a manager-less unit but with a very strong support team consisting of cataloguers, a service development manager and an advocacy manager. From the many common drivers listed by Susan, one specific driver stood out: the imperative need for research management the RAE brought about in Higher Education and Enlighten seems to fulfil this role just fine. Other interesting aspects of Susan’s talk were the excellent work the Library has done on author disambiguation using Glasgow Unique identifier (GUID), the delivery of subject feeds from Twitter, and the hot-linking to publications of all that valuable information when it comes to research management that are grant funding and funder names.

Dave Carr, the Open Access Adviser from the Wellcome Trust (WT), was the next speaker. The OA policy was introduced in 2005 and made mandatory in 2006, requiring WT-funded researchers to make their publications available within 6 months of publication. Dave estimated the compliance rate to the policy to be close to 50%. But the WT is aiming high, and raising the compliance rate is one of the top priorities of the trust. Therefore Dave’s talk was all about how the WT can persuade researchers of the benefits of Open Access and how the WT can help their researchers to make their publications available on OA. Dave’s talk was focused on the need to establish communication with researchers. Too many researchers are still unaware of OA funds or self-archiving practice, this is why the WT is working hard in getting the message across to researchers. In conclusion, it was felt that sanctioning non-compliant researchers was not the way to go for now, and the WT would strive to persuade researchers rather than adopting a punitive approach.

Chris Middleton, from the University of Nottingham, presented a case study on institutional funding for OA publishing. The main driver for setting up the OA fund was the looming REF. Some figures were provided: 353 OA fund requests were made over 4 years, whereof 140 were made in 2009/10, representing circa £171,179. The average cost per article at the University of Nottingham, was estimated at £1,317, but the payments were wide-spread, ranging from £277 to £2,990. The message Chris tried to pass across to the audience was the paramount importance of budgeting those OA costs (where is the break-even point?), but also that this is a very difficult task a University/library sets for itself. Chris used a slightly modified version of Alma Swan’s economic model to base her calculations on OA costs and savings.

Jackie Wickham, the RSP Open Access Adviser, reported on a survey of repository staff she conducted over the summer 2010. The survey was distributed via the UKCoRR list. Beside some useful data on repository staffing, such as 76.2% work part-time, 73.8% work as part of a team or that repository staff tend to be highly educated, Jackie also offered a summary of the skills repository staff (managers and administrators) thought were important, and this included communication (getting the message across), interpersonal skills, project management, determination, perseverance and patience .

Finally, the conference day came to an end with Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services at UCL and President of LIBER, who presented a selection of Open Access projects he’s involved in such as:

  • DART-Europe, the principal gateway for discovery and retrieval of OA European theses, and how the EThOS project fits into this.
  • Europeana libraries, some sort of Google-equivalent (which in itself is an already ambitious endeavour…) for European quality-assured research content.
  • LERU (League of European Research Universities) – a consortium of 22 research-intensive universities in Europe lobbying at the European level for the promotion of research.

In conclusion, this RSP Open Access conference was very informative and enlightening and helped to understand the debate, the drivers but also the challenges of Open Access. And, in the words of Bill, the conclusion would be that OA enables publishers and librarians to channel the huge changes currently taking place and ensure quality control of the research made freely available to anyone. Far from delivering anarchy in scholarly communication, OA helps stakeholders to organise and channel the mass of open research content.

Posted in Open Access, Staff training | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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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A flick through Ariadne (Nov 09) – open access papers

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 November, 2009

The latest issue of Ariadne (61) had a number of papers related to open access which I’ve decided to spend a few minutes reading through.

How to Publish Data Using Overlay Journals: The OJIMS Project
Sarah Callaghan, Sam Pepler, Fiona Hewer, Paul Hardaker and Alan Gadian describe the implementation details that can be used to create overlay journals for data publishing in the meteorological sciences.

I was drawn to this article on the back of the workshop for academic staff I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks.  Whilst this workshop has now been pushed back to March ’10, it did re-awaken my interest in the reuse of repository and open access publications as overlay journals.  A few years back it seemed these were going to be huge, a major growth use of open access materials, but since then very little seems to have emerged.  This paper was looking at a slightly different aspect, that of open access data journals.  Interestingly one of the early issues that emerged from this study was the need for a dedicated journal staff to support the longer term role of any title.  I did like the idea of using the seasons as a guide to the level of peer review items had been subjected to, brining in elements of Web 2.0 collobarative review.  That the work established a business case for data journals, which will doubtless find itself referenced once more than a pilot title is established.

Enhancing Scientific Communication through Aggregated Publications
Arjan Hogenaar describes changes in the publication and communication process which will mean that the role of authors will become a more prominent one.

On a similar theme, this paper looks at aggregation of open access publications and data along a shared theme – termed Enhanced Publication by the author.  Again the social interaction (semantic web) with the research community is noted, with the ability to comment and extend the peer review process for life rather than simple as a static event that happens once in the publication cycle.  I can imagine this idea of ongoing review and comment may feel very alien for some authors, while for others it is a very natural iterative process.  The suggestion that the biggest problem with achieving this is not a cultural but rather a technical one is not something that I agree with 100%; looking at my own experiences in the field of open access.  However, it is a valid point that the tools to achieve this kind of successful aggregation are still emerging and have yet to be tested for true robust delivery and access.

UK Institutional Repository Search: Innovation and Discovery
Vic Lyte, Sophia Jones, Sophia Ananiadou and Linda Kerr describe an innovative tool to showcase UK research output through advanced discovery and retrieval facilities.

This paper looks at the Intute RS search, a service about which I have mixed feelings.  Given that open access discovery is focussed on making research globally accessible, developing a search tool that exclusively looks at UK research seems counter productive.  However, that said the next generation features that this search tool offers are of considerable interest – I’ve long wished for a resource that allows me to manipulate and refine my OA search results, and maybe (just maybe) filter out metadata only records.  For that reason I approached this paper with two minds.  It was an interesting overview, and I found the case example given of the academic searcher well fleshed out – although I’d have been interested in a broader range of alternative end users – members of the public, government, corporate researchers.  It was an interesting overview, and useful background reading for anyone working in the repository world, but hardly an essential read.

The RSP Goes “Back To School” Stephanie Taylor reports on the three-day residential school for repository managers run by the Repositories Support Project (RSP), held on 14-16 September 2009 in Northumberland.

I wasn’t able to go to this even due to other commitments, but Steph’s guide to the event at least gave me a flavour of what I missed.  Some interesting sessions, and some not so by the sounds of it.  Hopefully there’ll be another one in 2010 that I might get the chance to attend.

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