Open Repositories 2012 – Day Two (minus keynote)
Writing about web page http://or2012.ed.ac.uk/
The second day started early with my final workshop, the Place of Software in Data Repositories, this workshop focused on work that had been done by the Software Sustainability Institute on the role of software in the research process. Again illustrating the slow move away from the rewards for researchers being tied to traditional publications and an acknowledgment that research now is a diverse process and involve a huge array of skills. But for researchers to gain the rewards for their work there needs to be a systematic way of storing and making these things available. The host of the workshop, Neil Chue Hong from the University of Edinburgh, spoke briefly on a new idea of the 'software metapaper' as a way to cite all the different parts of a project. The 'metapaper' is a neat idea to get around one of the problems that has been discussed in terms of citing datasets, the fact that some journals limit the number of references you can use (which seems anti-intuitive to me but that's another blog post!). The 'metapaper' will include create a complete record of a project, citing within it any publications, methodology, datasets or software objects that might all be published in different places into a single citable object. The first journal of this kind, the Journal of Open Research Software is due to launch soon. The issue of the long term preservations of software arising form JISC funded projects was also mentioned as an issue that JISC is beginning to grapple with now.
Breakout groups were centred around the range of factors that needed to be considered when making software available in a repository. Which brought up many of the main issues that we had been discussing in relation to datasets, issues of versioning, external dependencies (software is not PERL code alone), drivers to deposit and trust issues can up again. Key amongst these challenges was the issue of sustainability and also of reuse of the software by the software customers. Much of the discussion centred around what exactly it was that you needed to archive for the curation of software, just the text document containing the code? Or would you need to host executable files and the associated virtual machine interfaces as well? What does a trusted repository look like? One interesting issue that also came out of this was the issue of needing to store malicious software, for training purposes and testing, but needing to make these items really clear in an open repository for fear of range of problems! This morning was a great eye opener on the range of questions specialist types of material can raise for repositories making it ever more clear that generalist repositories, like our institutional repository, may not be suitable to try and store everything.
The main conference started in the afternoon with a fantastic keynote opening by Cameron Neylon, the new director of advocacy at the Public Library of Science (PLoS). I had so much to say about this, it has it's own post (to follow)!
Following the Keynote was the 'Poster Minute Madness', a brilliant idea for presenting posters at a conference and a way to get people excited about the content of the posters. A surprisingly nerve-wracking experience for presenters despite being only 60 sections long! (Our poster can be found in WRAP, self-archived on the way to the conference.) As before when I last saw this at OR10 in Madrid, I was blown away by the range of activities being undertaken by repositories around the world and the exciting projects people are thinking up! Highlights for me were:
- Brian Kelly and Jen Delasalle on social networks and repositories
- Chris Awre and others on history data management plans
- Helen Kenna and Karen Bates on Salford's digital archives
- QUT's poster on enhanced usage stats (very much our ideal situation)
But all of the posters were well worth the time taken to read them, I was just disappointed that I didn't get more time talking to people about my poster or talking to others about theirs! The poster reception followed the last events of the day at the stunning Playfair Library.
From here the conference started the parallel sessions, which as usual reminded me of being at a music festival where three of the bands you want to see are all playing at the same time on different stages! (Here I'll add a huge thank you to the organizers for videoing all the presentations so I could watch the ones I missed!) In the end I plumped for the sessions on the development of shared services, which gave an interesting view of a number of countries who are using national shared services as the base of their repository infrastructure. For every advantage of this kind of service I think of I'm reminded of the really rich, heterogeneous environment we have in the UK where every repository works a little differently for different people and I think it's worth the frustrations that always arise when you try to make the systems talk to each other! It was good to hear about the progress of the UK Repository Net+ project that looks like it has the potential to do a lot of good for repositories in the UK and the news from the World Bank of their aggressive Open Access policies is also really encouraging!