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]
  • Glynd┼Ár 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]