Tuesday 13 December 2011

Jorum Steering Group

On 17th October I attended the first meeting of the Jorum Steering Group at Mimas (excuse the delay in posting). The group has been convened to provide strategic input to Jorum during what is a transitional year for the service, with members asked to act as advocates and critical friends especially in regard to grassroots perspectives, market intelligence and user feedback.

UKCoRR has been identified as a potential partner organisation to Jorum during this time and although the expertise within our organisation is primarily Open Access to research, which arguably has occupied a different space to Open Educational Resources (OER), both in terms of technical infrastructure and also, I think, national and institutional stakeholders there is nevertheless a degree of cross-over; Jorum runs on a modified DSpace repository and a minority of UKCoRR member institutions do manage OER in their repository alongside their research. Perhaps more importantly, however, I would argue that recent political and economic developments in UK HE, combined with a zeitgeist that had already moved a long way towards “open” dissemination of scholarly output (even before the Browne review* was published) has brought OA and OER closer together, possibly a conflation in some respects (in the public mind) but also a real phenomenon as illustrated in this post in the Guardian and subsequent discussion during Open Access week:

“arguably no other aspect of digital holds the promise of the open access (OA) philosophy and open educational resources (OER)

* The Browne review, of course, may make it less attractive for institutions (though perhaps not individuals?) to openly share teaching & learning resources if they perceive it as giving away a competitive asset which is, perhaps, in contrast to renewed drivers towards Open Access to (publicly funded) research exemplified most recently by the government white paper Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth.

Against this background, it is extremely important that Jorum is both responsive to its existing users’ needs and is able to attract new users; in the changing landscape of HE what are likely to be the mainstream requirements; what do (potential) users need and want and how can this be evidenced? What is the evolving relationship between HE and FE and how can Jorum / ukoer support it?

User requirements have been discussed throughout phases 1 and 2 of the ukoer programme particularly on John, Lorna and Phil’s CETIS blogs and on my own institutional blog and the Jorum team are now blogging regularly at http://www.jorum.ac.uk/blog/.

Early priorities include work on the existing user interface to make it easier to download  resources, particularly when they comprise just a single file and improved metrics, with a “dashboard” for users to visualise, for example, how often their resources have been downloaded. Longer term, the plan is to redesign the user experience in a more fundamental way, in response to collated user feedback - so please, if you use or manage OER yourself, or are interested in ukoer in your institution and the wider sector, do get in touch.

The full membership of the steering group is as follows: Margaret Coutts (Chair) (University of Leeds), Jackie Carter (Mimas), Laura Shaw (Mimas), Lorna Campbell (CETIS), Phil Barker (CETIS), Joe Wilson (Scottish Qualifications Agency), Rachel Bruce (JISC), Amber Thomas (JISC), Hetesh Morar (JISC), Luis Carrasqueiro (British Universities Film & Video Council), Brian Kelly (UKOLN), Antonio Martinez-Arboleda (University of Leeds), Simon Bains (University of Manchester), Doug Belshaw (Northumbria University), Jean Downey (The Higher Education Academy), Bob Strunz (University of Limerick), Nick Sheppard (Leeds Metropolitan University & UKCoRR).

Wednesday 7 December 2011

UKCoRR Wins Jason Farradane Award

On November 30th Dominic Tate attended the Online Information conference at Olympia to represent the UKCoRR and collect the Jason Farradane award, presented by UKeIG. The award was presented at the CILIP stand in the exhibition hall. UKeIG Chair Martin White commended UKCoRR for its hard work and success in moving forward the Open Access agenda in the UK. Commenting after the award ceremony, Dominic Tate said “UKCoRR is all about its members – and this award is important in recognising the hard work, time and commitment that all the members have given over the last few years. UKCoRR’s success lies in its members’ willingness to share their experiences in this new and rapidly changing field. This award is for all UKCoRR members.”

Pictured L-R: Peter Griffiths, Martin White, Dominic Tate, Simon Edwards.

Monday 21 November 2011

We Are the Winners...

...of the 2011 UKeiG Jason Farradane award.  This is excellent news and the whole committee is delighted to accept this award on behalf of the wonderful UKCoRR members without whom...well there wouldn't be a UKCoRR.  Our thanks to our nominators and all those who provided vox pops on the value UKCoRR adds to the LIS and research community.

Those of you who are at the Online Exhibition and conference in December may well get the chance to see the award being presented in person to the External Liasion Officer (exact date and time TBC)

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Exploring open access in higher education - Guardian live chat this friday

Most of you will have picked this up from the list, but this Friday as part of Open Access week the Guardian is hosting a live chat at 12-2pm BST on the topic. I'd certainly encourage as many UKCoRR members as possible to tune in, and more importantly chip in (and not just as I've been invited to be on the Panel representing UKCoRR). This is a golden opportunity to really raise the visibility and importance of open access to research, education and data but of course also the hard work we all do as repository staff.

Promises to be lively I suspect!

Monday 24 October 2011

UKCoRR Open Access Week Activities 2011

This week is open access week, and to celebrate UKCoRR hopes to collate together what our membership is up to. If you're a UKCoRR member and you have a news article or blog post online about your activities, email the Chair with the link and details, and we'll add it to the list below.

  • City University: Repository launch party [News article] [OA Week events]
  • Glyndŵr University:  Travelling repository manager visiting academics to collect papers [Blog]
  • London School of Economics: LSE Research Online: In Your Office - visiting academics and research managers.  Awards for the most downloaded/deposited items [News article]
  • University of Edinburgh: Visiting, seminar and press release [News article]
  • University of Glasgow: OA deposit competition [News article]
  • University of Northampton: OA competition and vox pox videos [News article]
  • University of Salford: Repository team comes to you drop in sessions! [News article]
  • University of Sussex: Offering seminars on open access publishing [News article]
  • UWE Bristol: Lunchtime events, competition and interviews with academics [Blog] [Interview 1]
  • Research Support Project: Facilitaing visits between repository managers [Blog]

And a bit of background reading suggested by Seb Schmoller

In other news: Maney Publishing will be offering open access to all Archaeology & Heritage
content from 24th October until 4th November.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Fire and Forget: The Publication Deletion Quandary

What's the biggest challenge in acheiving open access today? Publisher's changing their rules? CRISes? Lack of visibility of the repository in the academic community? Insufficent staff?

No, I think it's the following commonly heard statement

I do not have the final accepted version of the paper. Once published, I delete such materials

How many times have you heard that from an academic? It seems no matter how much we advocate or mandate deposit in our repositories that there seems to be a common mindset that earlier versions of articles aren't worth keeping. I keep all the itteractions of mine but then I'm a paranoid kinda author whose been burned in the past with data loss.

I’ve often tried to fathom the reason why so many researchers delete earlier versions of their works. One of them I spoke with recently commented that he was worried about using up disk space, but I’d be surprised that given the average hard drive can contain 1000s of articles I say this is just a bit of a hangover from smaller computers.

Personally I’m keen for academics to start thinking along the lines of “submit to publish –> submit to archive –> promote” as the modern scholarly publishing , given that with so many articles being published globally today ensuring that yours are read and become as impactful as possible needs every possible competitive advantage we can bring to bear. Naturally though given the restrictive nature of most publishers Copyright Transfer Agreements (CTAs) in terms of what repositories and authors can do with the published version, it’s key in order to archive that researchers get into the habit of retaining pre-publication versions of publications. Not to mention of course that many of us have mandates requiring the deposit anyway.

But back to the crux - how do we stop academics from the fire and forget publication paradigm (publish->delete)? Education and advocacy are certainly key here, but you'll forgive me if I'm a little cynical about how much we can change academics time worn publication habits. All of us know there's a serious inertia that requires an almighty and sharp stick actively waved in their faces (a mandate with teeth or Princeton's new policy perhaps) before they change.

I'd be especially interested if anyone has any good ideas in this area of practical steps we can take to shift them from this. Even if they're not depositing knowing that the acceptable versions of the papers are there to be harvested at least makes the OA mountain a little less steep to climb.

And to finish on a positive note it's not everyone. I met with two academics a week or so ago. One of them said the classic quote at the top. And the other.

"Oh I keep every version of my papers"

The difference? It was the age - the one whom retained them was a younger researcher, whom had grown up like me with large disk spaces as a matter of course. The one whom didn't was older. So perhaps over time we may find it gets easier as younger researchers not accustomed to clearing their disk space ever come on stream. We can, perhaps, hope!

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]

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Princeton bans transfer of academic copyright

As you'll have seen from the UKCoRR discussion list Princeton University in the US has taken the dramatic step of banning academics from handing over all copyright to publishers. I think this is an interesting development, and perhaps is the next step on from institutional mandates. While I can only applaud the bravery of the faculty of the institution and wish them every success, I do think that just like mandates that a note of caution must be sounded.

Mandates, if you listen to some proponents, are the cure-all of the open access world. Those of us in UKCoRR know the practical truth though, that while they are indeed powerful statements of commitment to open access from an institution's SMT getting academics to comply with them can be a struggle. Mandates are the stick when contrasted with the carrot of open access benefits that most of us advocate to our academics. However, they are a toothless stick (if I may mix my metaphors) in most cases - I've yet to hear from any UK institution where an academic whom has ignored a institutional mandate has ended up in hot water over it.

They're also a stick that we repository managers and administrators can't wield - the image of the reaction I'd get from telling an academic to they HAVE to deposit or else...well it ends with me being unceremoniously tossed out of their office to derisory laughter. Mandates only really work for the vast majority of staff when they are applied and enforced - a role for far more senior staff to engage with.

And that's where I wonder how the Princeton policy will be applied. Will we hear of an academic, whom wanting to publish in a prestigious journal that requires the standard rights transfer flaunting the policy getting into hot water, being suspended or sacked as a result? I seriously doubt it. No institution worth its research salt is going to want to damage it's reputation in this way.

Although it seems in the case of Princeton that this policy has come from the faculty themselves, so perhaps each and everyone of them is indeed highly enlightened and switched onto the broad benefits of open access. If so, someone send me details of how to apply for a job there as it sounds like a place I want to work!

Years ago I remember Bill Hubbard quoting me a factoid that the UK HEI sector was worth more to the UK economy by billions of pounds that the UK academic publishing industry. I suspect the same may be true in the states, so perhaps this is the rousing of the sleeping giant, no longer willing to passively accede to the publishers' dominion over them. Will Yale or Harvard or other Ivy League institutions follow suit? If they do, then perhaps this trickle of affirmative open access action will become a tidal wave that may spread to Europe.

What happens over the coming months will be interesting. Will publishers, in fear of offending one of the US' most prestigious institutions bend to their will? I try to think of what would happen if Oxbridge went down the same route in the UK - I think some smaller publishers would change their policies, but the big multinationals? Doubt it, I really do.

At the end of the day as the article says, chances are the path to open access will continue to be complicated by publishers as they defend their established economic model. But at least that means for us repository types that the world we work in will continue to be a complex and engaging, if not a little frustrating, one.

Thursday 22 September 2011

LSE Library and a REF call-out: lessons

In the second of his two guest posts, Neil Stewart identifies lessons from managing a call-out for publications for REF assessment at the London School of Economics.

If you would like to contribute a guest-post to the UKCoRR blog, please contact a member of the committee.

At the recent RSP event on Readiness for REF (which I blogged about on this blog), my former LSE colleague Dave Puplett and I presented on our experience of managing a call-out for publications for REF assessment. The presentation was qualitatively different from the other presentations at the event, because it was on the managerial and organisational issues surrounding management of publications for REF purposes.

The slides from the presentation, which detail LSE Library's experience (full disclosure: I have now moved on to City University London, where I manage City Research Online) of managing the call-out and subsequent influx of publications, can be downloaded from the RSP site (Powerpoint link). Instead of re-hashing the whole presentation, I thought I would take the opportunity to detail some of the lessons learnt, which are hopefully of general applicability to repository people.

Lesson 1: dealing with REF matters puts you at the heart of things
When LSE Research Online (LSERO) was chosen as the de facto method of managing REF data, LSERO became a much higher strategic priority for the School. This is of course excellent for the service, and it had been the case that the LSERO team and Library management had been plugging away to make this happen for a very long time. However, it's also an opportunity that must be seized, because missing it could have meant that the repository would have been side-lined, and new methods to manage this process would have been found. At LSE, this meant that resources to adequately manage things had to be found, which meant diverting resources from elsewhere to allow this to happen. The REF is too important to ignore: get it right, by allocating adequate resource and managerial effort, and the repository gains profile and prestige; but getting it wrong could be disastrous.

Lesson 2: if you didn't talk to the Research Office before, you soon will
The REF call-out at LSE was instigated by the Research Office. While that team had been close allies during the RAE in 2008, the call-out meant that we really had to start working with them more closely well in advance of the REF. This soon fostered a productive relationship, and allowed us to use the Research Office's channels of communications with which to talk to departments. It also gave us the authority to standardise the way in which publications data was reported upon, since the combined weight of the LSERO team and Research Office left departments with little choice!

Lesson 3: it's possible to use the ePrints (and presumably DSpace) back-end to perform database query magic
If you're lucky enough to have a friendly IT person who can run SQL database queries (or if you have that skill yourself) then get in touch with them when you have to start thinking about REF matters. Being able to access then manipulate data direct from the repository's database is invaluable, because it allows you to create customised reporting data based upon any criteria you might wish to include.

Lesson 4: issues of disambiguation get thrown into sharp relief
Dealing with REF publications data brought up those old librarianship questions which are probably familiar to all of us. Two in particular came into relief particularly strongly:
  • Which department do academics really live in? Academics can have multiple allegiances, to their department(s), research centre(s) and other parts of the university (e.g. the senior management team). Where, for REF purposes, should an academic be placed? If "units of assessment" do not correlate with departments, how does the repository map this? These are of course as much questions for the Research Office as they are for repository teams, but nevertheless they must be tackled.
  • When do academics start (and finish) their careers with parent institutions? How much data from before (and after) these dates should the repository hold, for REF purposes?
The above points (and I'm sure other people can think of others) points to the need to have a CERIF-ied repository system, which links into other university-wide systems, and which may be able to solve these problems of ambiguity.

Lesson 5: in-press and submitted publications are hard to deal with
Be very careful about how forthcoming publications are dealt with. The problem here is one of recording this data in a non-public forum, which can still be reported back to departments in a useful fashion. Many academics will feel that you are jeopardising their chances of publication by including a citation to an in press item in the live repository without their say-so.

Lesson 6: don't let Open Access be forgotten about!
All of the above sounds like work that could usefully be done by a CRIS, and makes no mention of the primary goal of (most) repositories, which is providing openly accessible research. There is a great danger, in my view, that open access can be overwhelmed by the needs of REF reporting, particularly if the repository team has to devote extra resource to dealing with this. How to balance open access and REF is an open question, and one that the LSERO team are still pondering. One benefit of the REF exercise is that it has made LSERO "complete" (regarding citations, at least), which might be a way of further pushing the open access agenda from a position of strength.

I'm sure there are plenty of other lessons that people could add to this list, judging by discussions at this event and elsewhere- please add them (or any other comments) in the comments section below.

Friday 9 September 2011

RSP Readiness for REF (R4R) workshop, 5th September 2011

In the first of two guest posts, Neil Stewart reflects on the RSP Readiness for REF workshop.

If you would like to contribute a guest-post to the UKCoRR blog, please contact a member of the committee.

My name is Neil Stewart, and I'm the repository manager for the newly minted City Research Online repository, at City University London. I normally blog at City Open Access, if you want to keep an eye on developments of a repository which is still on a project footing, rather than a fully-fledged service.

The reason you find me writing here is because I was recently the recipient of two invitations: to present at the RSP Readiness for REF (R4R) workshop, held on Monday 5th September in London, and to blog about that event here at UKCORR's blog. I was happy to take up both invitations. What follows summarises some thoughts about the workshop, and on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as it relates to repositories in general. It should be noted that the opinions below are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of UKCORR. I'll be writing another post soon, which outlines the R4R workshop presentation which I delivered with my former LSE colleague Dave Puplett.

The event's emphasis (apart from the presentation which Dave & I delivered) can fairly be characterised as macro-level, since it discussed REF data submission in very general terms, and with specific reference to the CERIF metadata standard. CERIF is a flexible, extensible model for metadata about research-producing institutions, including (but not limited to) publications data. It is possible, using the CERIF schema, to model an institution's structure, then show how researchers and research outputs relate to that structure. This has obvious benefits for an exercise like the REF, which will (amongst other things) require submission of data on "REF-able" (i.e. high quality) publications at a department (or at least department-like "unit of assessment") level.

The morning sessions dealt with laying out the details of how CERIF and CERIF-compliant repositories could assist with REF submissions. The first session was an overview of the JISC-sponsored Readiness4REF (R4R) Project, and was delivered by Richard Gartner of Kings College London. R4R, just in the process of closing, has looked at the way in which repositories and other data management tools can provide CERIF-compliant data for REF submission purposes. Second was Keith Jeffery from euroCRIS, who gave the bigger picture as to how CERIF was developed and what it can do. This was followed by a panel discussion on the Measuring Impact Under CERIF (MICE) project, which is attempting to build in research impact data into the CERIF schema, and hence make it readily submissible for REF.

After Dave & my presentation and lunch, there were demonstrations of R4R plug-ins for the three major repository software types (Fedora, DSpace and ePrints). As an ePrints user, I was interested to see a demonstration of ePrints v. 3.3, which is to be released in the next few weeks, and contains some "CRIS-like" functionality. This is a kind of CERIF-lite approach, by which it is easy to create associations between researchers, research grants, research centres etc. to express CERIF-like linkages between them. These linkages can then be exposed in useful ways using ePrints web pages, but also exported as CERIF data to be re-used in other systems, or for a REF submission. This seems to me an interesting development, and one we may have to look at here at City.

The final session featured the obligatory break-out groups. I was assigned to a group which discussed the question: "Do you think CERIF is now a more viable option for your institution to use for its REF submission?" A variety of subjects were covered, as ever with these type of discussions. The two main points I took from it were the fact that CERIF provides the opportunity to provide an "open" citation model by modelling linkages (including positive and negative citations) between publications, outside of the "walled gardens" provided by Scopus and Web of Science; and that, for CERIF to work within my institution, there is the somewhat intractable problem of knowing to whom to speak to find out if, for example, the HR database can be plugged into the repository to transfer CERIF-formatted data between the two systems.

All in all, an interesting and timely event. Keep an eye out for my post on LSE Library's experiences of conducting a mini-REF, coming soon!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

CRIS + Repositories at UK Universities

On the back of this recent post I've been invited to speak at the RSP Autumn School about whether the developing CRIS / repositories landscape at UK Universities might present an opportunity to re-focus on Open Access.

Since the RAE2008, the uptake of integrated electronic research administration systems (CRIS, ERA, RMAS...choose your favourite acronym / abbreviation) has been dramatic with the primary driver being to oil the administrative wheels of the REF in 2013.

As the ever-growing UKCoRR membership attests (currently 254 members) Institutional Repositories are now well established across the HE sector and there are several approaches that institutions are taking to utilise this existing repository infrastructure for research administration and/or embed their repository as a component of a broader research administration infrastructure with many either implementing additional commercial software or developing a bespoke solution in-house.

A significant initiative in this area is the JISC funded
RePosit project (final report due in October 2011) which aims to "increase uptake of a web-based repository deposit tool embedded in a researcher-facing publications management system" and comprises a consortium of 5 institutions (University of Leeds , Keele University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Exeter and University of Plymouth) in partnership with Symplectic Ltd as a commercial partner. The project runs a Google group at http://groups.google.com/group/reposit where there has been a very active thread recently discussing this developing environment; I have used the thread to collate a list of CRIS + repositories at UK institutions and set up a public Google doc if anyone would like to add their institution (I won't post the link here but it's already been shared via the RePosit and UKCoRR mailing lists.)

As can be seen from the list so far, the most common solutions are commercial software implementations of Atira Pure (11 instances) and Symplectic Elements (16 instances) [+4 instances of Avedas Converis and 1 bespoke]. Though this hastily compiled document almost certainly reflects the membership of the RePosit Google group* with only 32 institutions so far represented out of 142 Institutional Repositories in the UK listed on OpenDoar I think it's still a big enough sample to be significant, especially as Symplectic, Atira and Avedas are arguably the only real options currently in the market-place (notwithstanding the ongoing development of CRIS-like functionality into EPrints itself which is by far the most popular repository platform in the UK (run by 71 UK institutions listed on OpenDoar - exactly half of the total.)

* Similar information is also being captured on the new RSP wiki -http://www.rsp.ac.uk/pmwiki/index.php?n=Institutions.HomePage

Both Symplectic and Pure are designed to enable research staff to manage their research profile both manually and by pulling data from online databases via their APIs (Web of Science, SCOPUS, Mendeley etc) but one observation that is worth commenting upon is the different core functionality of the two systems with Symplectic providing a modular solution designed to integrate with an existing repository whereas Pure is arguably more fully featured software, capable of managing full-text and with full version control, functionality to manage embargo, visibility of items based on business rules, and fully indexable by search engines. Indeed, the comprehensive nature of Atira Pure raises the intriguing possibility that it could effectively replace a repository altogether; at this stage, however, I believe the majority of institutions running the software have chosen to integrate with an existing repository in the Symplectic model – a good example is the University of St Andrews who are running Pure – research portal here - alongside their DSpace repository - http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/ - which is just used for full-text.

There are some very interesting perspectives on the RePosit thread on why we should or should not maintain two systems (CRIS + repository) and it is clear that the decision will depend to a large extent on the particular systems at a given institution and their specific configuration. Janet Aucock of St Andrews suggests that the integration of the best features of both CRIS and IR will evolve over time going on to say that an important consideration should be "not to lose flexibility and options. Teams across research offices and libraries can be well coordinated, communicate well and have regular contact and debate"..."But even then...there can be differences in emphasis in what the CRIS is about and what service it offers. The Library tends to emphasise open access and discovery. Research office is undoubtedly more focused on research assessment. (Also see James Toon’s comment on this blog).

Arguments in favour of retaining repositories include the issue of creative arts research outputs and Jackie Wickham of the RSP (and now UKCoRR secretary) points out that “there has been considerable investment in developing repositories (focused on EPrints, KULTUR plug in) to enable them to showcase this type of research e.g. UAL - http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/. The visual impact of the repository is critical to arts researchers and many institutions are using the KULTUR plug in – and not just the specialist arts ones”. I think this is a persuasive argument, also for those using their repositories for "non-REF" output / grey literature / Open Educational Resources (though I have posted elsewhere that I’d actually like to investigate the CRIS model for managing OER as there seems no fundamental reason why such a system could not be used to support the workflow for both OA research and OER.

As to whether all of this does indeed present an opportunity to re-focus on Open Access I think is still a moot point. There is perhaps a danger that the administrative burden of the REF will overshadow the objective of providing Open Access to research but there is also the opportunity to integrate the various infrastructural components in such a way to facilitate what are ultimately complementary objectives; to increase visibility of institutional research, improve awareness and advocacy initiatives around OA (and OER) and to more effectively link institutional research administration with access to the actual research outputs.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Repositories and CRIS: Working Smartly together

Yesterday I attended, along with the UKCoRR Technical & Web Officer, an event hosted by the RSP in their native Nottingham. The theme of the day was to take a look at the overlap in working, activities and priorities between repository managers and staff, and those working in the research offices. It was also a chance to meet with staff from the various repository software groups and CRIS suppliers too.

Despite being pitched to the two main groups, there were certainly a few more repository folks there on the day than research managers. That said there were enough from both camps to make for an effective dialogue and exchange of experience.

One of the issues that was flagged up during the day was how do we continue this exchange of experience in the wider community. For my own part I've been working closely with our research office for a number of years; although working with people and really understanding what drives, motivates and challenges them on a day-to-day basis is a different matter entirely. Some people at the event suggested that a shared email list for repository and research managers would be the solution. While others, myself included, felt that there were more than enough lists we were all on already and that attendance at events from people like ARMA, RSP and UKCoRR by people from both camps would be more effective in striking up an ongoing dialogue.

It is worth noting that UKCoRR will be approaching ARMA in the coming weeks to try and establish some form of ongoing communication and in some respects this building of a shared community of experience and practice I suspect will be very much at the heart of it.

However, we approach I think one thing is clear - there is a need for continued closer working with our research manager colleagues, something which can only strengthen the visibility and importance of the role of the repository within our institutions. All be it that it throws up some new challenging questions such as "Would the repository be better managed by a team embedded in the research office than the library?" and "One system, two workflows - is this really the best way to operate?".

Tuesday 21 June 2011

CRIS -> Repository...full-text only...or metadata records too?

Just a quick post to hopefully stimulate some discussion ahead of the RSP event ‘Repositories and CRIS: working smartly together. Conference and Software Exhibition’ that is taking place at Nottingham University Park Conference Centre on the 19th of July. (Places still available!)

From the RSP publicity: "With the REF taking place in 2014 (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/) CRIS systems and repositories are becoming a higher priority and their functionality more visible. Smooth interaction between the two will be vital for a smooth and painless submission in 2014. Now is the perfect time to find out how others have managed this process! This event will look at how repositories and CRISs can work together to meet this goal. Findings of the RePosit project, which has developed case studies around the integration of Symplectic Ltd and repositories in 5 institutions, will be shared."

I've had several conversations recently with repository managers from different institutions in the process of or planning soon to implement CRIS and integrate with their repositories with many reporting a driver to transfer not only full-text to an institutional repository (the current functionality supported by Symplectic for example) but also metadata-only records - presumably to ensure their repositories remain the locus for research management. However, does it perhaps make more sense to separate our research database in a CRIS from full-text only in a repository?

Arguably, one of the limitations of Open Access repositories from an original conception (in the arXiv mould) of holding, disseminating and preserving full-text research outputs is that they have, in effect, become "diluted" by metadata records for which it has not been possible to procure full-text or copyright does not permit deposit. Developing a "hybrid" model that separates full-text from bibliographic records in this way rather than pushing everything into a repository might enable repositories to return to an antedeluvian world where they are focused once again on preservation of full-text material rather than also including bibliographic data.

The very term "CRIS" is perhaps problematic and probably better conceived of as an infrastructure derived from a set of software and services - HR systems, Finance systems, repository etc as well as 3rd party commercial software like Symplectic Elements, Atira Pure and Converis (Avedas). Moreover, leading repository software providers like EPrints are looking to extend the functionality of repositories themselves (see: Carr, L. (2010) EPrints: A Hybrid CRIS/Repository. In: Workshop on CRIS, CERIF and Institutional Repositories, 10-11th May 2010, Rome, Italy.); I have no idea whether such a "hybrid" approach would necessarily be achievable in every - or even most - institutions; as emphasised at "Learning how to play nicely: Repositories and CRIS", institutions are all different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The availability of human and other resources, in-house expertise and the existing infrastructure will all have an impact on the most appropriate course of action. The tentative conclusion from that event was that if starting with a blank slate, it probably makes sense for a CRIS to be the central system with the repository as a linked peripheral component; but, of course, very few are actually starting from this point and different models can be just as effective.

Thursday 16 June 2011

UKCoRR Presentation - EIFL-OA–KIT–COAR Online Workshop

In the UK we have been very lucky to have benefitted from considerable investment in open access infrastructure over the last decade or so. This JISC has led the way with this, with a number of high profile projects (including the Repositories Support Project, Welsh Repository Network and ERiS), as well as a not insignificant number of start-up, enhancement and embedding projects at regional and institutional levels.

In addition, practitioners in the UK have been able to call on the UKCoRR network of repository managers for support via the mailing list and members meetings. You will most likely be aware that UKCoRR is unfunded, relying on the time spared by its members to share expertise and to help one another, and piggybacking on existing infrastructure to facilitate this support.
Many of us are aware that we are in a very privileged position in the UK, and that many countries (especially those who would benefit from Open Access the most) do not have the resources to fund work in this area. It is for this reason that UKCoRR has been working with groups in other countries to help set up similar networks - something we have been doing for some time now.

I have been invited by eIFL to give a presentation as part of an online workshop about UKCoRR (how it works, how it was set up and how it has been of benefit in the UK) to delegates from a number of developing and transition countries. By doing so we are hoping to continue to let others outside of the UK know about what we have achieved with UKCoRR – in the hope that similar networks will be founded in other countries. This is just a small part of the external liaison work I am undertaking, but I hope that it will play a small part in helping to sow the seeds of change elsewhere in the world.

It is still early days, but we hope to be able to use available technology (telephone, video-conferencing, webinars etc) to offer more support where we can in the future. Wish me luck and watch this space…

Monday 13 June 2011

Research Outcomes Project


Research Outcomes Project http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/ResearchOutcomes/Pages/home.aspx

Dear All,

Our regular updates should mean you are now familiar with the purpose of the RCUK Research Outcomes System (ROS). As ever, if you do have any queries, please let us know. Today I’m writing to update you on a particular aspect of ROS, the ‘Institution Level User’.

An ‘Institutional Level User’ is anyone who has been nominated by a Research Office, Institution or University to act as the point of contact for submission of Research Outputs and Outcomes to RCUK. This role allows a user to view all the grants which are due for an RCUK report, view the outcomes which have already been submitted for each grant, and provides an option to upload outcome data on behalf of your academics. Academics will retain the ability to submit research outcomes, delegate submission to another person or allow their Institution to submit on their behalf.

The four Research Councils involved with Research Outcomes (AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC and ESRC) are asking every institution to nominate an individual or individuals who they wish to be an “Institutional Level User”. We would therefore be grateful if you could please discuss this with your relevant colleagues, and decide who your institution would like to nominate and provide us with the following information by 30th June 2011:

· The full name, main contact email address and telephone number of each person who wishes to have Institution Level User privileges in the Research Outcomes system.

There is no limit to the number of people who can be an “Institutional Level User”. It is up to your institution to nominate individuals based on your requirements and resources. The only restriction is that anyone who is nominated must be Je-S registered.

For universities who already have systems in place to record outcomes, the ‘Institutional Level User’ will help streamline the way academics submit outcomes to their University. It will mean academics will not be required to manually submit research outputs and outcomes to two or more different systems.

If you are unsure about who to nominate at this stage, that is fine. There will be future opportunities to nominate ‘Institutional Level Users’ once the Research Outcomes System is launched in the autumn. However we would encourage you to consider this important role now.

If you have any questions about the ‘Institutional Level User’ role, or any part of the Research Outcomes project, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Many thanks,

Darren Hunter

Thursday 9 June 2011

What do you want? Membership Survey 2011

You'll have seen by now the short and painless survey that's gone out on the UKCoRR discussion list, and if you're a member of UKCoRR I'd ask you to spend a couple of minutes filling it in. The survey comes about from discussions at the last couple of Committee meetings about the direction UKCoRR and indeed the position we should be taking. As Chair I've certain views on what that direction should be, but I firmly believe that it's important for such a small but close knit membership body such as ourselves to be steered as much as possible; and not just at the whims of your hard working Committee.

We continue to live in interesting times as repository managers and workers. The advent of CRISes and the REF have seen us go up the visibility flagpole in many institutions, but at the same time this visibility often seems to bring with it a restriction of movement; and it's always been the flexibility and adaptability of repositories that has been one of their strongest points.

I'll be nagging/reminding you all over the coming weeks to have your say!

Friday 3 June 2011

To Challenge or Not To Challenge?

How far does a repository manager or administrator’s advocacy go? This was the essence of a question I posted yesterday to the UKCoRR discussion list. It was raised by an email I’d received from the Editor in Chief of a journal denying permission for us to archive a paper from one of our academics, where RoMEO had been ambiguous. Now these letters aren’t that unusual in themselves, I know we’ve all had many a knock back from publishers but it’s a little rarer in my experience to get them from editors. What prompted my question was that the Editor was arguing all the tired old points about Open Access that were I to hear them from one of my own academics I’d be straight onto the offensive dismantling the arguments and hopefully illuminating the researcher.

But while the EiC might have been an academic, he wasn’t one of mine – did I have the time and energy to start down what may well be a fruitless path for the hope of perhaps changing the mind of one admittedly fairly opposed academic? Did I perhaps have a responsibility as a member of the repository world to engage with such hold outs whenever or wherever I encounter them? Or should I just shrug my shoulders and move onto to the other dozen pressing tasks I had to perform? I thought the best way to take this forward was to throw the question out to the list and see what others do. My thanks to all those of you who responded – anonymised and edited comments below:

If it's an underling (copy and pasting the party line), we generally don't bother. If it's the E-i-C then we understand their position, it's our standard procedure to clarify these issues, other similar publishers have responded much differently, etc.


When I receive a 'no' from a publisher I act according to the information they provide. I have recently been declined permission to mount items on a repository from very small publishers in the arts, who I believe just did not 'get' open access. On these occasions I responded by telephone and after an informal chat received verbal permission, followed up with email conformation. I find telephone far more effective than email when trying to persuade others of your point of view as you can suss out the objections more easily than in an email. On other occasions I don't bother and just move on to the next submission. I think the key thing here is to pick your battles.


I've received some quite interesting/odd/rude/confusing/confused responses from publishers along the way. I decided not to enter into prolonged debate with any of the ones who refused permission, basically due to a combination of a) lack of time, b) thinking there would be no point, and c) worrying about damaging future relations with the publisher if I came on too strong!”


It’s heartening to see others in exactly in the same situation. I was especially impressed with the idea of phoning the publishers up, although for myself I don’t have the hours in the day (nor the job, given that my role of repository manager is blended with managing an additional two sections!). I think what I’ve taken away from this discussion is that we should, where possible, as repository workers take every opportunity to educate, inform and challenge preconceptions – where time and will power allows! As always I’d love to hear more about your experiences with direct engagement with editors or publishers over rights negotiations, good, bad and indifferent!

Friday 27 May 2011

Survey: Annual metrics collection for SCONUL & UK Repositories

As it happens my boss is chair of the SCONUL Chair of Performance Measures group and we've been talking about the SCONUL annual stats return. As many of you remember last year this tried to include repository download numbers for full-text items. I know from conversations I had with various people in the community that what they asked for wasn't realistically collectible, or at least wasn't last year.

However, SCONUL remains keen to be able to demonstrate what the UK repository community is delivering in their findings for 2011. She wanted to know if it was possible to isolate full-text downloads/accesses as discrete from total accesses, as she thinks the former is a more valuable figure.

For my own part I'm still not certain that I can create these figures for my local repository, or at least not without a lot of tech time investigating (something that with all the CRIS work we've got going on isn't really going to be an option). But what about the rest of the community?

Yes, that's right - this is a plea for information!

If you could take a minute or two to complete the following survey it would be very much appreciated and may help shape SCONUL's requests for this year into a more realistic metric! Which I'm sure we could all agree would be a positive move for the community.

The survey is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PKQH6RC

If you're unable to access the Survey Monkey site please get in touch with me and I'll I'll email you a copy of the questions. I'll blog about the results this time next week - so get clicking and thanks

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Strategic direction for 2011/12

Today the new UKCoRR Committee held it's first committee meeting, or rather telcon. The plans are this year to have one of these ever couple of months to make sure we can help each other drive forward the UKCoRR agenda. I think you're going to see some exciting developments over the coming months, that I'll let my fellow Committee members tell you more about in due course.

Of course this begs the question, what is the UKCoRR agenda? Clearly maintaining the organisation and mailing list in the spirit they were set up for the benefit of our members is at our core, as the the Web site outlines. But what about 2011/12 - where should we be devoting our attention to? What are the steps we should be taking? Whom are the people we should be lobbying on your behalf and what should we be lobbying them about?

Without a doubt the committee have some ideas; but we always welcome feedback from you the membership as to where we should be focussed. After all, that's what we're here to do - to be your voice to the community and broader stakeholders in the ever evolving open access and scholarly communications arena!

Make a comment, or drop us a line with your thoughts.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

New Chair greetings

Hello all, I thought it would be worth my while (and I hope yours) in writing a short post introducing myself as the new UKCoRR Chair. There's a running joke among my staff that Gareth knows everybody - it seems whenever they go to an external event that they run into people who know me. I think in part that stems back to my glorious years working for SHERPA (aka the Nottingham Centre for Research Communications these days) on the SHERPA Plus, RoMEO and Repositories Support Project back in 2006-8. Certainly for me it was my first real exposure to the field of repositories and open access. And as one of the founding members of UKCoRR it’s an honour to come back and help play my part in shaping our organisation. Today I'm based at the University of Leicester where as well as managing our repository (the LRA) I also manage our course packs and copyright team and document supply service as well. Like many of you I'm also working hard on joining up disparate systems as we move towards implementing our CRIS this year (indeed, I've been told by our Director that it's my number one priority for 2011, which is most satisfying). Back in the mid 2000s there weren't actually that many institutional repositories in the UK, and yet in a shockingly short time (thanks in no small way to JISC funding) we've seen them grow up like weeds until today any institution serious about promoting their research publications has one. So while I wasn't in at the start of the movement in the UK, I've certainly been well placed to meet many of you as you come into the field. And hopefully I'll have the opportunity of meeting more of you over my term of office. For now there’s not much more to say except to wish you all well, and to encourage you to continue sharing your experience, bringing your questions to the forum and helping us to become an increasingly powerful and influential representative force for everyone working within the repository field today. You'll find all my contact details are available here, should you need them!

Monday 28 February 2011

Membership Meeting 25.02.2011

The membership meeting was held this year at Salford University's Clifford Whitworth Library. Karen Bates had kndly taken over responsibility for organising the event from Helen Kenna, with the University's Librarian, Julie Berry opening the proceedings for us. The facilities were excellent, there were no technical glitches and even the sun came out for us. After a committee round-up which included news of Graham Stone stepping down as chair (elections forthcoming), we had a short coffee/tea break before Richard Jones' presentation of the SWORD project. Next came the lightning talks - everone keeping to their 5 minutes beautifully. It was particularly good to hear from so many members and their work/projects from all around the UK. Josh Brown discussed JISC activities and their future plans with lunch then providing networking/catch up opportunities for all. Paul Stainthorp demonstrated the new UKCoRR map of members locations which will give us a clearer view of where we can hold future meetings/workshops. More lightning talks and networking finished off a very informative and relaxed day of repository related news and views. Nicky Cashman

Thursday 27 January 2011


SWORD version 2 is a new JISC funded project to update the SWORD (Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit) standard in order to cope not only with the traditional 'fire and forget' deposit scenario, but also to facilitate new functions - update, retrieve and delete extensions - needed to support the whole deposit lifecycle of scholarly works while also supporting the broadening range of technical systems to enable better integration across the scholarly infrastructure. In addition, a new community development model is planned to ensure that it is developed, implemented and adopted by communities engaged in research management across HE.

Though the emphasis of SWORDv2, like it's predecessor, is on research outputs, it will surely also impact on teaching and learning materials - including OER - and the respective systems used to manage them whether dedicated repositories like Jorum or VLEs and other LMSs; as noted by CETIS' John Robertson in a recent post the "development [is] focused on scholarly works but extending the profile to support CRUD functionality and ongoing interaction around content and use of content between users and repository is an important step towards richer tools and services"

Development will first document the use cases that SWORDv2 needs to fulfil before developing the new standard and implementing it across the main repository platforms. Naturally the project would value input from UKCoRR and we have been invited, as a community, to review and comment on the requirements and specification as they evolve. Keep an eye on the blog at http://swordapp.org/ and for the more technically minded there is a mailing list that you can subscribe to at https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/sword-app-techadvisorypanel (where you can also browse the archive.)

In addition, UKCoRR is very pleased to welcome Richard Jones, the Technical Lead for the SWORDv2 project, to our membership meeting on Friday 25th February at the University of Salford (register here). Richard is a core developer of the DSpace platform and also Head of Repository systems at Symplectic Ltd currently working on the RePOSIT project which aims to “increase uptake of a web-based repository deposit tool embedded in a researcher-facing publications management system.”

We are especially keen for colleagues to bring their deposit wish-lists and use-cases to the February meeting

N.B. RePOSIT is one of three projects funded under the Deposit strand of JISC's current Information Environment Programme 2009-11 which also includes DepositMO: Modus Operandi for Repository Deposits which is "creating a repository deposit workflow connecting the user’s computer desktop, especially popular apps such as MS Office, with digital repositories based on EPrints and DSpace" and will liaise closely with Microsoft and DURA – Direct User Repository Access "a collaboration between Mendeley, Symplectic and CARET and the Library at the University of Cambridge"

Thursday 13 January 2011

UKCoRR members' meeting 2011. Destination: Salford

The Committee are delighted to announce the details of the UKCoRR members' meeting 2011.
Welcome to Salford University!

The meeting will take place on Friday, February 25, 2011 from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM (GMT), in the Conference Room of the Clifford Whitworth Library, University of Salford.

You can reserve your place at: http://ukcorr.eventbrite.com/

The event also has a page on Lanyrd.com. We hope to see you there!

A draft programme for the delay is below.

N.B. If you're interested in delivering a lightning talk on the day, please contact Dominic Tate - Dominic.Tate@rhul.ac.uk – by the end of January with ideas for 5 min presentations/updates of your repository work...



10.00 – 10.30

Arrival and Registration

10.30 – 10.35

Opening introduction - Acting Director IS, Julie Berry

10.35 – 10.50

Committee reports/round-up

10.50 – 11.05


11.05 – 11.45

Richard Jones, Technical Lead of SWORDv2 project

11.45 – 12.15

Lightning talks

12.15 – 12.45

Josh Brown, JISC Programme Manager: E-Research - Research Information Management

12.45 – 1.30


1.30 – 3.15

Café style networking with tables (with afternoon coffee?)

3.15 – 3.30


3.30 – 3.55

UKCoRR map

3.55 – 4.00

Concluding words and close