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!