July 12, 2010

Open Repositories 2010

Writing about web page http://or2010.fecyt.es/publico/Home/index.aspx

There will be a full report of the event going up here soon but I thought I'd get a few of the highlights (non-football related, I'm afraid) up in advance.  Presented in no particular order here are some of the things I took way from the conference.

  • News that Spain's new law for Science, Technology and Innovation will mandate the open access publishing of all publicly funded research no more than 12 months after completion in a repository, is (hopefully) to be ratified later this year (Proyecto de Ley de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Innovación, Article 36).
  • The 'buzzword' of the conference was 'linked-data', why you should use it, how to code it and most of all how to share it.
  • Need for a awareness that the published paper is only part of the process, research is not just about the results but also about the process of getting the results.  It is just as valuable to researcher for us to archive this data as well.
  • Everyone knows what the problems and issues are in the broad areas of repositories and Open Access and the solutions are a numerous as the problems.  However at the moment development is so close to the present that people are not having as much choice about waiting for their preferred option to be ready.
  • Some institutions want their mandate in place before they even have a repository.  This has definitely helped them in that they are now starting the repository from a position of community engagement but I can see problems if they have any delays in the building of the repository.
  • Interoperability and integration with other library systems were highlighted as particular issues and concerns and a number of presentations touched on this, bringing us again back to linked-data.
  • Repository drivers (particularly in terms of research assessment) are sometimes driving repositories away from the 'core' or 'ideal' of open access to research.
  • Non-text research outputs lead to non-standard repositories.  Possibly obvious, but it's worth bearing in mind we don't all have the same challenges, and that even if we think we've got it worked out, unexpected deposits can play havoc with systems.  Also it is to our advantage not to get locked into the idea of a single output type.
  • Disambiguation is the next big challenge and a number of different projects were presented in this area, both in session and as posters.
  • Libraries in general and repositories in particular need to be aware that each discipline has it's own 'language'.  We need to strive to be the common language that allows them all to communicate, not another language for them to learn.
  • The more we can move into their preferred working environment instead of forcing them to learn a new one the better, lessons can be learnt from the social networking world (hands up how many of you have linked all your accounts so you only have to update one!?!).
  • The Carrot vs Stick debate: both approaches work and some institutions are using some very big sticks indeed!
  • Digital Preservation doesn't have to be hard, but you do have to want to do it!

Finally, congratulations to Richard Davis and Rory McNicoll of the University of London Computer Centre for winning the 'Developers' Challenge' (for details see here) with a tool to hugely increase the number of useful links out of a repository record.  Also to Colin Smith, Chris Yates and Sheila Chudasama of the Open University for winning the poster contest (available here).

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