All entries for Monday 31 January 2011

January 31, 2011

Research Management: Smoothing the Way

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This event, at RIBA, looked at creating an environment of 'joined-up' thinking about research. A area that many of the institutions attending had all made a start on, at least between the Library and the Research Support Offices, but that all needed to expand to include all the actors in the research cycle, from the research funders down.

The introduction helped to set the scene and emphasised the problem that too often the research management we have at the moment is too narrowly focused and does not take into account the full breadth of the issues that are inherent in 'research'.  Especially the fact that you cannot look to manage research if you are not also managing teaching.  One speaker even posed the question of whether it is even possible to 'manage' research!  Overall it was felt that a dialogue needed to be begun between all the areas involved in supporting research to stop the wasteful duplication of effort that is often present currently.

Three of the case studies introduced a collection of different approaches to 'research management', through a broad and integrated IR (Glasgow), through the Research Information System (Newcastle) and using a full CRIS (St Andrews).  The final case study looked at paying for open access publication (Nottingham) as a way of looking at the ways the University can support the dissemination part of the research cycle.  The funders were representatives from the Wellcome Trust and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and looked at the issues they had in ensuring compliance for their open access policies.  Despite the ease of compliance for Wellcome trust funded research through publishers and UKPMC they still only have a compliance rate of 50%.  The Wellcome trust emphasised their current activities in working with publishers to ensure compliance through this route (currently 85% of the Wellcome funded research in UKPMC came from publisher deposit).  As well as the things that the institution could be doing in terms of advocacy and awareness raising with their academics, particularly in terms of the funding available within institutions (Warwick readers can find details of the Wellcome Trust open access fund here).  Gerry Lawson from NERC looked at the issue form the perspective of a single funder and looked at the possibility of monitoring compliance through IR harvest (interesting as NERC mandates deposit to NORA, but useful for other funders).  This was proposed to take place in the beginning few months of 2012 to cover all outputs from 2011.  If this really is the case the funders will need to start confirming that this is the case soon to allow institutions to prepare!

The group and panel discussions focussed on two questions:

  • What do we need to know?
  • What do we need to do next?

This lead to some very interesting points:

  • Research funders are restricted in the ways they can give money to a institution;
  • Libraries are happy to administer central OA funds but want some guidance from the faculties/departments as to criteria as to where to allocate the limited funds;
  • Can funders really do more, after all the open access requirement is part of the contact that academics sign;
  • Funders really need more figures on spend on OA publishing to to take the argument with the publishers (subscription charges in relation to revenue for open access) forward;
  • Would it help if RCUK and HEFCE pushed for the REF2020 to only grant eligibility to OA papers (80% of the submissions to the RAE2008 could have been made OA through their existing journal (but how to pay for this!));
  • Standardisation needs to be a much bigger priority to allow these diverse systems to talk to each other better;
  • Are sanctions from the funders the best way to push up compliance?  Is there a happy medium available?;
  • Possibility of extending the writing up period?  RLUK and ARMA to look to creating a request to RCUK to move this forward.

Sadly the discussion ran out of time but produced some much needed enthusiasm to look at taking some of these points forward in the future.  All round a very valuable day (and chance to meet some new faces from the research support side of things) and many thanks to the CRC for organising.  The was a suggestion to run the day again due to the huge demand for places, if they do I would highly recommend it!!!

January 2011

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