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July 19, 2012

Blogging over at Research Support

Writing about Guest post by Yvonne Budden: Metadata and Online Discoverability from Library Research Support

Follow the link above to see my blog over on the main Library Research Support blogon metadata, what it is, what it's used for and why you should care!

It's all about dissemination.

August 08, 2011

IRIOS Workshop – Part Two: Comment and Workshops

Writing about web page

One thing I took away from the workshop session was that both systems ROP and IRIOS were doing the right things and going in the right directions but weren't quite there yet. A big concern to me as an IR manager (and as a former Metadata Librarian) was that the IRIOS system creates yet more unique identifiers (see later in this entry for further discussion of unique IDs). Also automation of the project linking to outputs can't come fast enough, especially for services like WRAP where we spend a not inconsiderable amount of time tracking down funding information from the papers. However we could also benefit from taking information from systems such as this, which tie the recording of information about outputs much more closely to the money, which is always a motivator for people to get data entered correctly!

I think it is telling that more and more of these 'proof of concept' services are being developed using the CERIF dataformat (after R4R I'm looking forward to hearing about the MICE project early next month) but the trick with a standard is that it is only a standard if everyone is using it. I don't think we are quite there yet, I think this coming REF has been such an uncertain process so far that I think there is a lot more chance of CERIF being the main deposit format in the next REF. (If I'm still here for the next REF I'll have to reflect back on this and see if I was right!)

The afternoon of the work shop was taken up with a number of workshop discussions on a range of topics, below are a few of the notes I took in the two discussions I took part in. To see the full run down of all of the discussions please see the link above.

Universal Researcher IDs (URID)

It was generally accepted by all in the discussion that unique IDs for things, be they projects, outputs, researchers or objects were a good idea in terms of data transfer and exchange. They must be a good idea as there are so many different ones you can have (in the course of the discussion we mentioned more than eight current projects to create URIDs). Things are much easier to link together if they all bear a single identifier. However when it comes to people the added issue of data protection rears its head and can potentially hamper any form of identification if it is 'assigned' to the person. A way round this was suggested to allow people to sign up to identifiers, thus allowing those who wish to opt out to do so. Ethically the best route perhaps but unless a single service was designated we could end up with a system similar to the one we have now where everyone is signing up, but not using a whole array for services. The size of the problem is the size of the current academic community and global in scope. Some of the characteristics of URIDs we came up with were they just be; unique (and semantic free - previously mentioned privacy issues), have a single place that assigns them, have a sustainable authority file, not be tied to a role. One current service in place that fulfils many of the above criteria is the UUID service, however this falls down in that there is no register of assigned IDs so people can apply for multiple IDs if they forget them (and lets face it the likely hood of remembering a 128 number is kind of low) ... and we're back in the same situation again. I'm not sure there is a single perfect solution to this problem, though my life would be easier if there was!

REF Considerations

This was a free form discussion that covered the REF, REF preparations and 'Life after the REF' in various guises. HEFCE are currently tendering for the data to be used in the REF at the moment, needless to say the two services bidding are the expected two, Thomson Reuters and Scopus, but HEFCE will only be buying one lot of data. Bibliometrics were touched upon in relation to the REF, is it better to have two people select a really highly cited paper or choose two lower cited papers? Discussions on the HESA data, checking the data once it comes back from HESA, possibilities of mapping the future HESA data to the REF UoA for long term benchmarking rather than a single point hat goes out of date very quickly. Do people's CRIS systems really hold all of the data required for a return? What are the differences between the impact as measured/requested by HEFCE and the Impact measured by RCUK? Selection policy and training, the possibility of sector wide training, possible best practise mentioned in the idea to train a small core group of people who would handle all of the enquires centrally. Would it be possible for institutions to get the facilities data on a yearly basis rather than just before the REF and then have to try and chase people who may not remember/have left to try and verify the data?

One interesting comment from the discussion was the news that NERC, at least, has seen a big increase in the number of grant applications including a direct cost for Open Access funding. Interesting particularly is that there had been a number of comments made to me that researchers didn't want to do that are they feared making their grant application too expensive.

All in all the day was very interesting for me as an introduction to a 'world beyond publications' (as I was attending both for myself and for a member of our Research Support Services department) and as an indication of what we need to do to go forward.

December 14, 2009

What does repository deposit mean?

Follow-up to Theses and early draft deposit in repositories: is that publication? from WRAP repository blog

Last week I attended a meeting with some publishers and it seems to me that there is considerable potential for confusion amongst those not involved in repository management, about what repository deposit actually means. The two main areas of confusion seem to be:

1) Not all content in all repositories is necessarily open access. Some repositories have metadata-only records along with some records which also have full text items available on open access. Some also have full text items that are locked such that only repository staff and the author can see them, or such that only members of the institution can see them. Some repositories add a "request a copy" button to their records so that those who can't see the locked full text can request it from the author. Sometimes the locked access is in order to meet a publisher's requirement or sometimes it is because the author prefers that requests are sent to him/herself so that s/he can know who is reading his/her work.

Publishers' agreements with authors and their information about what can and can't be done usually refer to whether repository deposit is allowed or not. I suspect that more of them would allow repository deposit if the article were locked to be accessible only within the institution or only to the author and repository staff.

2) Just because an item is available on open access, that does not mean that it is available for further copying by anyone! Publishers might also be more inclined to allow repository deposit and open access availability if they knew that allowing this is not granting permission for others to on-copy from the repository. Some repositories do also ask authors to grant a Creative Commons (CC) licence for the use of the article they deposit, and when this is the case then the article will also be available for further copying. Authors can do this when it is clear that they own the copyright themselves. Those repositories which do use the CC licence don't all expect every single item they hold to be deposited with such a licence, although perhaps that would be an ideal scenario. WRAP isn't one of those repositories which asks authors to sign a CC licence, for now. It would just be another hurdle to deposit and our main aim is to make the works available without subscription barrier.

Publishers' agreements with authors who have paid for their article to be made available on open access on the publishers' site do not state that repository deposit is also allowed, although it seems that (some, at least) do expect that to be the case without their stating it. Perhaps their agreements with the authors do grant copyright back to the authors and that's why they expect it, but it's not always clear to repository managers that this is the case.

We don't put open access articles into the WRAP repository unless permission is expressly granted by the publisher or clearly owned and granted by the author. Open access seems to have been conflated with waiving of copyright, but copyright still exists in open access works. BioMed Central are very clear that their open access articles can be further copied, and they state how, etc, so they're an example of how open access should be handled by publishers, in my opinion. This is another reason that I wouldn't consider deposit in WRAP to be a form of publication. WRAP has no copyright owndership over the works it holds: that still rests with the rights owners.

For WRAP, we are clear that we want full text, to be made available on open access for all journal articles and for as many PhD theses as possible. We don't have metadata-only records for journal articles but we do for theses, and we also allow theses to be deposited but locked to repository staff only. The works in WRAP are not made available with any particular licence and rights owners would still need to be consulted before further copying could be done.

It seems to me that there are so many different flavours of repository, all with ever so slightly different aims and purposes and so we're all doing slightly different things with them. No wonder there is so much potential for confusion! In any case, I was very glad to begin speaking to publishers as I did last week with some representatives from the Highwire publishers, in my role as Chair of the UK Council of Research Repositories.

December 03, 2009

Survey on Open Access and features of a repository

Writing about web page

This survey asks about how many scientific publications a month you read and how many of them were open access. I had to confess that I had no idea about the open access status of the articles I read!

I don't read all that many articles which I would class as scientific. Some are articles in Southampton's repository, so I know that they're open access! But I do also read less scientific stuff, like in the THE which I know is subscription based. Occasionally I might find something on Business Source Premier or Science Direct and I know that those articles are not open access. But generally, I don't keep track of such things and I guess that if I don't, most researchers won't either. As long as there is access, that is all any of us want to know!

It does happen, about two or three times a year, that I can't read a journal article that I am interested in. I'm at a well resourced institution and I read relatively few scholarly articles (compared to a researcher), so I wonder how often researchers do come across articles that they can't read.

Other questions in the survey are about the way we like to discover content and how we might like to link between that content and other articles, so they are functions that repositories might offer. The more sophisticated the functions are, the more "stuff" I will come across and the more sophisticated my information navigation skills need to be, and even if some of those functions are designed to help me sort the content in quality order, would I really trust the mechanisms on offer? I much prefer to find stuff through my networks of people who I know and trust, than by polls/reviews by strangers or metrics measured by computer software.

I answered the questions from my personal perspective, rather than what I thought other readers might like to use. I'm not a typical reader of research articles, so I'm not sure how helpful my answers will have been.

I also think that someone completing the survey who is a typical reader might find some conflict between their roles as reader and as a writer,  because most scientists will be both. As a reader, you might not want to know how many other visits there have been to a paper, or other measures of how popular they were (like me, preferring to rely on existing community sources), but as an author, that could be very useful information. Will all respondents think about the questions from both points of view? We know that relatively few are depositing!

I also said that it would be very useful to have an indication of the overall usage of a repository. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?!

May 18, 2009

Paying open access publication fees

Writing about web page

I've been reading the RIN publication about paying for open access publication charges. The appendix has some sensible recommendations for authors, institutions, funders and publishers. The appendix also has a very clear and helpful description of the University of Nottingham's central open access fund, which notably mentions that the first part of their institutional policy is to encourage repository deposit.

The weakness of the publication, in my view, is that it does only deal with one way to comply with funders' requirements - that of paying for open access publishing, as opposed to repository deposit. This is stated early on, but I don't know that the message about the two possible routes is reaching authors/researchers very clearly. Or senior HEI staff: repositories are not mentioned in the summary recommendation for HEIs in this booklet.

I don't think it's helpful to separate out the advice to authors about securing funding for open access publishing, without first explaining that they can also meet the requirement by publishing in the traditional way and also depositing a version in an open access repository. I suppose I would say that: I'm a repository manager!

I'm not sure how funders are communicating the message about their requirements to their researchers. I'm not sure what researchers understand about those requirements, but I do believe that when authors are aware of open access, they nearly always think of paying to publish or entirely free journals, rather than repository deposit of early versions. I'm not sure why that is. In some disciplines/with some journals, there is never an author's own version created, after peer review, and authors do not want to share their earliest versions that lack the polished rigour that the peer review process adds to their work. So perhaps they are just more comfortable with the concept of paying to publish the final version in an open access way.

Why should an author choose to pay for open access publication? There are a few reasons that occur to me straight away:

1) The journal that the author wishes to publish in is funded entirely by open access author fees, so it is the only way to get the work published in the most appropriate journal. Or if the publisher does not allow repository deposit of any version of the work without a fee being paid. Authors should be able to choose the best channel for communicating their research regardless of what funding model the publisher applies.

2) The publisher will ensure that the funder is informed of the researchers' compliance with the requirement. That is a service worth paying for: open access publishers who keep PubMed updated with Wellcome Trust funded articles are performing such a service. Publishers can only do that for authors if the authors inform them of their funding details, though: do authors know that this is a part of what they are paying for?

3) The article should be made available on open access immediately, without any embargo period because there is so much interest in the work it describes.

Should an author have to pay for open access publishing in order to meet a funder mandate? I don't think so, but are funders saying that authors should choose to publish only in journals which support open access repository deposit or at least offer an author-pays model of open access publishing? This booklet makes me think that funder mandates are creating a world where fees for open access publishing must be met!

How are funders communicating their message to authors? How will funders be measuring compliance? How will funders define the outputs from the work they have funded? I don't think this message is reaching researchers all that clearly, and the suspicion that was apparent in a recent THES article is the result of a lot of confusion, I believe.

Repository managers are trying to get the message out about repository deposit, and to use the funders' mandates as a part of their message. Are funders expecting us to do this? Are we getting the message right?

Each institution will no doubt have a different type of repository with a different way of depositing, so no doubt it is appropriate that this part of the message be delivered at institutional level.

I believe that guidance should also be provided for repository managers, to complement this publication, and that future work on this topic should build in the repository deposit part of the open access message at HEI level, just as the University of Nottingham case study describes.

I know what advice and support I believe that we (repository staff) should be giving to our researchers/authors. We should explain that authors should make themselves aware of the specifics of their funders' requirement (& help them to do that) and that they should consider direct repository deposit as a route to open access publishing & therefore meeting a funder requirement. We (the institutional repository) should be supporting them in making that deposit, in the appropriate repository/ies (a weak point, I believe: I don't know of any IR depositing works in PubMed on authors' behalf, for instance... ), and then authors can consider paying for open access publishing as a separate matter... and seek funding accordingly.

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...

July 08, 2008

Negotiating with publishers

There's a very interesting example on the lis-copyseek jiscmail list that a law academic has posted, of a letter he has sent to explain that he wishes to retain copyright in his post print and not to sign the agreement as sent by his publisher.

Publishers' copyright transfer agreements and licences to publish are bamboozling. There are plenty of examples on their websites. It is very difficult to work out whether, as an author, you are retaining the right to do all the things you might want to do with your own article. Like sharing it with colleagues, re-publishing the content elsewhere, putting your own version into your institutional repository.

So, there are some tactics that academics can try, to retain these rights:

1) Ignore any such agreements unless and until chased to respond. The publisher might publish your article without you needing to sign the agreement!

2) When chased, explain that you do not wish to sign their form, but would like your work to be published without that requirement. If the agreement is still an issue, seek clarification on anything that is not plainly stated. Write back with your own agreement rather than using their form (as with the example sent to lis-copyseek).

3) If you must use their form, read it and amend it as you see fit.

4) Or else offer to withdraw your article from their journal. Charles Oppenheim of Loughborough did this with Elsevier and his work was published anyway.

It would be great if all authors were aware of what rights they were signing away, and chose to negotiate with publishers rather than signing whatever they are sent without ever keeping even a record for themselves of what they have signed... but perhaps such advice is likely to be for the keen few only.

Copyright law is complicated to understand, publishers don't make it any clearer, and I'm quite sure that academics have other concerns that are more pressing on their time than entering into such negotiations, which will require them to be clued up about their rights in order to stand their ground. Not least of which is boosting their number of publications and citations...

June 23, 2008

Thomson's own unique identifiers

Follow-up to Unique identifiers for authors from WRAP repository blog

It seems that everyone is trying to address this problem with authors' surnames at the moment. Thomson have a scheme where authors can register for a unique identifier, but the potential problem with this is that Thomson are just one publisher of many. So whilst the number will no doubt be unique, it won't necessarily be universally used by all repositories and publishers of online content.

The blurb says that "When you register on, you create and manage your own publication list." Which sounds very much like Warwick's own My Profile (formerly known as Expertise) and also like what we're trying to do with the repository, and indeed what authors are trying to do with their own web pages. It also looks a bit like it could become a social networking tool for academics. It does seem to have advantages for the author, and maybe authors will find it useful to use more than one online method for telling the world about what they have published where. It would be easier for the author if there were a universal unique identifier that could help us all to share information about the author in a more automated way, though, thus sparing the author the time and effort of maintaining so many profiles and pages of information.

February 15, 2008

Harvard mandating open access

Writing about web page

The world of repositories is very much full of the news that Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences have mandated open access deposit for its academics. There is an "opt out" that they can use, though, if they can't get the publisher's permission.

So it remains to be seen whether this will actually cause any changes in the scholarly communication model, in favour of open access and IR deposit as a standard procedure. Authors might simply call upon the option to opt out, rather than negotiate with their publishers. After all, no academic would want to miss out on getting an article published in a prestigious journal, just because their institution wants a copy of the text for their open access repository!

But it does seem that so much of what can go into a repository is actually dependent on the authors themselves, so pressure from funder mandates and institutional mandates is what is needed to populate open access repositories. It is my impression that authors don't feel comfortable with sharing early versions of their work, and they would prefer that someone from the library just harvested everything they ever wrote for them, from the final versions. But in order for the library to do that, we would have to have permission from the copyright holders. Since the authors themselves usually sign copyright in their work over to publishers under the current publishing model, we can't do what the authors would prefer.

So, Harvard academics will presumably be putting pressure on publishers to use a licence to publish rather than signing copyright agreements, in order that they can deposit the final version into their IR. This might make it easier for academics from other institutions to carry out similar negotiations. The news of the mandate itself might highlight to the academic authors that they can ask for a licence to publish in preference to a copyright agreement. Taylor and Francis' website mentions that they have such a licence already, but I doubt that many authors know about it or request to use it.

It seems to me that we could do with a list of which publishers and/or journal titles will use such a licence to publish, enabling authors to share the text of their final version in an open access repository. Such a list would help authors to have the confidence to ask for a licence, after the (sometimes) months of negotiations that take place prior to their article being accepted. I can appreciate that the academic author will perhaps be willing to sign anything at the end of such a protracted process, just to get their work into publication, with all the pressure that is on them to get published, and to get published in particular prestigious titles.

January 15, 2008

Unique identifiers for authors

Writing about web page

One of the things that we need in our repositories is a way to identify an author: the same person might have published an article as, eg J. Slater in one journal, and as John Slater in another, and be listed according to the journal's author naming convention and how would we know that they were the same author?

This is a matter that we can try to deal with internally to our institutional repository by using an ID unique to the University for authors. But how would repository aggregators or cross searchers be able to de-duplicate and sort records when someone searches by author?

There are some interesting moves afoot to assign authors standard numbers, a bit like ISBNs for books. I also rather like the idea that we might all have OpenID usernames that we can use across different services.

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