All entries for Thursday 08 January 2009

January 08, 2009

Backwards in time

The New Year begins, and I'm pleased to say that we're getting more deposits trickling in. I'm currently struggling with an issue that relates to the identity of WRAP as a collection, as well as our collection development policy.

How do we define “Warwick research”? Many of our researchers have come from or go to other institutions. Their citations and profiles will be raised by work they may have done in the past, so should WRAP also host work written from earlier in their career? Future publications will no doubt include expertise developed whilst the authors were at Warwick.

A policy of including work written even whilst not employed at Warwick would enable us to add prestigious articles to WRAP that might add to the “Google juice” of the entire collection. It would also enable us to go further in meeting the wishes of authors to have all their work presented in one place.

Authors need to be clear about what they can deposit to WRAP. At present, we are accepting whatever they submit to us, and don’t check dates of employment against submitted items. We have checked such dates when writing to authors to invite submission, however, because such personal invitations have taken us time to write, especially in checking the copyright agreements of each of the authors’ articles, and we have needed to apply a limit to our checks before inviting deposits, because our invitations have not all led to deposits. Another limit we applied in our invitations was to only look at the five most recently published articles, for the same reasons.

If every author was to send us a version of everything they have ever published, we would be inundated with work, but that is pretty unlikely to happen! The value of making early published works available through WRAP is not so easy for WRAP staff to ascertain: some early articles will valuable to the academic community and therefore to WRAP, others less so. There will be institutional repositories at those other institutions who might already make the work available on open access, so a WRAP deposit would be of limited value to the academic community. We can therefore only rely on academics’ own decisions about what to deposit to us, and hope to keep up with the total level of deposit.

What I need to know, in essence, is: Is it important for Warwick to be able to identify the outputs of research it has hosted? Should we limit WRAP’s collection according to employment dates?

It may be possible to add a metadata field “Written whilst the author was employed at Warwick? – Yes/No”. (NB The question asked is about the writing rather than the publication - is that the right criterion?) However, adding metadata fields to WRAP’s schema is not easy, and the checks would take extra processing time, so it is crucial to know the importance of such information. If it is not important to separate Warwick research from research by Warwick people, then we might also ask for articles written by high profile authors who have recently arrived at Warwick.

Policy thus far: For the time being, we ask all authors to send us everything they can, dating back as far as they like. It may become necessary to prioritise processing of more recently published articles if we become inundated with deposits.

We ought not to go on building the collection much further without a clear policy about what we intend the collection to represent. It feels to me like it is evolving away from an original intention to present Warwick research, and I wonder whether I should attempt to reign it in, or go with the flow and make the most of the advantages of a wider collection policy. Something for our steering group, I feel...

January 2009

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