Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cultivating Sustainability down at Kultivate

Last week I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker at a Kultivate workshop in London (my first official UKCoRR Chair public gig!). Kultivate's been one of those projects that I'm somewhat ashamed to say I've not been following too closley, given my own institutions lack of arts and media type repository content. Hence the trip was as much about me finding out more about where they are as it was offering Kultivate my facilitation of their discussion group.

Of all the various talks it was the one by Mark Hahnel of FigShare that was of especial interest. It's not a project I'd heard of either. The idea behind it was to make the sharing of scientists raw data (e.g. lab note books and the like) easier - hence Figure Share or FigShare. One especially interesting fact was that people publish positive results, not negative ones. And where 20 separate teams run an experiment it could be that the 19 whom are correct to discover a negative result don't publish an article, but the one that is in error is published giving a false positive. FigShare aimed to allow people to more readily see where experimental results are indeed negative.

The session I'd gone to run was on the back of the (soon to be available on the UKCoRR site) membership survey. My discussions with the group were on the focus of sustaining the UK repository community. It's been my impression that we're a diverse bunch - you only need to look at the split between our experiences with different CRISes for example, or for those where a focus on fine arts and performance outweighs text research publications.

What was clear from the discussions is all of us working on repositories, in whatever flavour, are working against an ever changing background. Look at Princeton's policy or the ever changing whims of publisher licenses. Keeping up to date with all these developments is a challenge for any one person, which is why we have UKCoRR to share, dissemination and comment on such things. One comment raised from the floor was that it was desirable to see UKCoRR make position statements on issues, such as Elsevier's policy shift. I think that is an interesting point that I'd like to explore more with the members; we Committee people are here to provide you with a louder voice after all. Should we do this? It wasn't something that came out strongly in the membership survey results, although you do all want us to make approaches to stakeholders and see if can't get some dialogues going.

I did raise the issue of the OER community too. My perception was that they're not broadly members of UKCoRR for the most part but then the OER people I meet are researchers not practitioners. Again the suggestion from the floor came that they are a separate community or rather they aren't working as closely together as we UKCoRR repository types.

I closed the session by trying to get the three key things that UKCoRR does or could do to sustain the repository community in the long term. The suggestions were:
-To provide emotional and practical support through the list and meetings.
-To work with everyone, even our frenemies, towards the goal of open access
-To capitalise on events or circumstance, where we can, to the furtherance of the community

All in all an enjoyable and informative day and my thanks specially to Marie-Therese Gramstadt for facilitating my visit! Slides from all of the day's talks can be found here.

[Edit: A far more comprehensive review of the day from Kultivate is available]

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