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July 16, 2012

Open Repositories 2012 – Day One

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This is the first of a series of blog posts on my reflections on the 7th International Conference on Open Repositories. I've split the post by the days of the conference mainly to avoid this being the longest blog post ever and to make it easier to refer to later.

Day one was taken up with half day workshops, a fantastic idea and allowed a level of interaction that some of the later sessions couldn't. All the workshops seemed to feature great discussions on relevant topics and a great comparison of different practises in different countries and institutions. My day one workshops were:

  • ISL1: Islandora - Getting Started
  • DCC: Institutional Repositories & Data - Roles and Responsibilities
  • And an optional evening workshop on EDINA's Repository Junction Broker project.

The Islandora workshop was fascinating! I'd not seen very much of the software or it potential before and the workshop was a great introduction to everything about the software, from the architecture and underlying metadata to the different Drupal options for customising the front end. Their system of 'solution packs', Drupal modules that allow you to drop in functionality for different functionality and content types into the system is a great idea and allows the system a degree of flexibility not found in other systems yet (although the EPrints Bazaar might get there soon). They demo-ed a books solution pack for paged content as well as discussing forthcoming solution packs for institutional repository (IR) functionality and Digital Humanities projects. Islandora maintain a web-based sandbox environment to allow people to experiment which is wiped clean each evening which I'm looking forward to playing with as we scope new software for future projects. I also like the fact that the software is completely open source, following the replacement of Abbyy OCR software with the open source equivalent Tesseract. Islandora as the 'new' player in the market is managing to provide the same functionality that the other systems do with a collection of exciting add-ons, however I do see that as you add the extra functionality you are having to maintain a number of additional modules as well as the core software which could have resource implications down the line.

The afternoon workshop run by the Digital Curation Centrewas a nice mix of presentations on the current thinking of a number of projects from around the world and group debate on the weeks 'hot button' topic of Research Data Management (RDM). This topic was to come up time and again in the week as most of the talks and discussions touched on it at least a little. As the title suggested the main thrust of the discussion was around who was responsible for what! Discussions covered a range of topics and some of the messages that came out most strongly for me where:

  • Use the discipline data centres as much as possible, no IR (data or otherwise) can, or should, do everything.
  • Knowing where the other data centres are is essential.
  • Try not to get bogged down trying to 'fix' everything first time, fix what you can and work on the rest later or you could end up doing nothing.
  • Interesting point from Chris Awre at Hull, use the IR as a starting point for discussions to move the researcher's thinking from what you have to what they need.
  • Try to get into the researchers workflows as early as possible as it makes creating the metadata easier for the researcher, which in turn helps the archive.
  • Are repositories qualified to appraise the data deposited with them?

I'll admit that the whole area of RDM is a scary one but it was good to realise that there are both a, a lot of people out there feeling the same and b, a lot of assistance there for when its needed. The idea of just getting something in place and fixing the rest later feels a bit anti-intuitive to me but, on the other hand, it's what I've been doing with WRAP's development of the last two years, it's just that someone else had to take the first step!

The final workshop of the day was an informal one in the evening discussing the development of the EDINA's Repository Junction Broker project which is going to form part of the services offered by the UK Repository Net+. This discussions centred around the development of the extension of the middleware tool developed by EDINA to allow publishers to feed deposits directly into repositories as a service to researchers. As ever this sound like a fantastic idea and the debate was active and enthusiastic as the various stakeholders discussed how to make this work for both repositories and publishers. Certain as far as WRAP is concerned if what we need to do is get our SWORD2 endpoint up and running that that is what we have to do, the service offered by the Repository Junction are far too good to miss out on! I'll be watching this develop with interest....

More on day two soon....

June 29, 2012

Wellcome Trust strengthens its open access policy

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The Wellcome Trust has announced that it is strengthening the open access policy for the research it has funded, significant changes include:

  • In final reports the principal investigator's institution "must provide assurance that all papers associated with the grant comply with the Trust's policy". If they are unable to do so the final payment may be withheld.
  • Non-compliant publications "will be discounted as part of a researcher's track record in any renewal of an existing grant or new grant application."
  • "Trust-funded researchers will be required to ensure that all publications associated with their Wellcome-funded research are compliant with the Trust's policy before any funding renewals or new grant awards will be activated."

All three steps will apply to research articles published from 1 October 2009 onwards.

Researchers wanting help to make sure their publications are compliant can contact the WRAP team at or contact Sam Johnson to get access to the Wellcome Trust fund for open access publication fees.

April 25, 2012

RSP Webinar – Advocacy on implementing funders' mandates

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[This post was written at the time of the webinar, 27 March 2012, but a glitch (technical term) means that it didn't go live until now.]

In light of some of the continued discussions on various boards and forums about the future of Open Access and the impact of funders mandates on things like Elsevier's policies and the recently shelved Research Works Act, it was interesting to hear Scott Lapinski from Harvard University speak about his experiences.

Some highlights of his talk included:

  • Grants aren't always where you think they are! Harvard found NIH grants all over the University not just in the Medical School.
  • Challenges included; high number of researchers, researchers not being based on campus, issues of corresponding author vs grant holder, version issues, what to do about the 'non-compliance' letters and the coordinating messages to the range of people who need to be involved.
  • Support and advice came from the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communicationwhich has a dialogue will all disciplines and monitors all scholarly communications issues.
  • Range of advocacy options were discussed, from meetings and seminars to drop-ins in the linked hospitals as well as advocacy through new web tools for submission and management.
  • Scott also recommended getting in touch with researchers you know are non-compliant, stating that you might get a better reaction from a letter saying 'something might be wrong here, but the Library can help', rather than waiting for the letter saying 'you have been non-compliant and now your grants are in danger'.

All of which may be useful preparation as RCUK funders look to revise their mandates and strat tracking compliance more closely. Although this piece in the THE makes for further interesting reading on this topic.

[Update]Since this was written Harvard's push for open access has continued with this memorandum to faculty staff on journal pricing.

August 09, 2011

SHERPA RoMEO and Publishers – RSP Event

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Thankfully I'm new enough to the whole repository busy that I've never had to try to manage or populate an open access repository without the help of SHERPA's RoMEO service and I hope I'll never have to try! So an event presenting a number of new developments and the chance to engage with Publishers representatives was too good to miss out on!

The event itself gave two really clear messages: we are all on the same side and clarity is everything. The clarity message was raised again and again, all the various players in this community need clarity and consistency in who says what, what means what and what we can do with what (to badly paraphrase Bill Hubbard). Another message that came from both RoMEO and representatives of the Repository community (Enlighten Team Leader Marie Cairney) was that at the end of the day, as much as we care about Open Access, we don't mind being told 'no' as long as it's clear that that is what you are saying.

Some highlights from the sessions:

  • "Change is coming" was the title of the latter part of Bill Hubbard's (Centre for Research Communication) presentation and highlighted the many areas (peer-review, end of the Big-Deal (?), social research tools (Mendeley etc.), demands for free access, cross-discipline research, possibility of institutions taking more control of the intellectual property produced by the institution and more) where we might be seeing change that affect the way we work in the next ten years. No doubt there will be others we haven't thought of yet.
  • Azhar Hussain (SHERPA Services) continued the theme of opportunity by highlighting some interesting statistics for RoMEO. The service currently stands at 998 publishers covering 18,000+ journals and bringing in nearly 20,000 visits a month. Also highlighted was the growth of usage from within CRIS systems, something RoMEO is tracking closely.
  • Mark Simon from Maney Publishing spoke about the reasons behind the companies decision to 'go green' as well as highlighting the fact that for Maney, as they broadly publish for learned societies, the copyright of published work often does not rest with Maney itself, but with the Society. Mark also highlighted the cost of their 'Gold OA' options (STM journals $2000, Humanities journals $800, Some tropical medicine journals $500) stating that the cost disparity was due to the cost of STM journals to produce and the fact that more people want to publish in STM journals.
  • Marie Cairney (Enlighten, Glasgow University) spoke about some of the recent developments to Enlighten, including using the 'Supportworks' software to better track enquiries and embargoes. She also highlighted the changes to publisher policies over the years that have caused problems for her team, most of us can guess which ones she mentioned! Marie's final message was that the more clarity we can get on policy matters, the more deposits we can get.
  • Jane Smith (SHERPA Services) spoke on a similar subject and touched on many of the common pitfalls that can occur when contacting Publishers to clarify policy. These included, no online policy, no single point of contact, two contradictory responses from different parts of the company and more. Jane ended with a plea for the publishers to let RoMEO know when their policy changes so they can get the information out as quickly as possible and for copyright agreements/policies to be written in clear English.
  • Emily Hall from Emerald was up next. One point clearly highlighted from the outset was that Emerald was a 'green' publisher (it couldn't really have been any other colour!). Emily also spoke about the decision not to offer 'Gold OA' options (not felt to be good for the publisher or work for the discipline they mostly publish) and touched on issues with filesharing. (Trivia: Emerald's most pirated book 'Airport Design and Control 2nd Ed.') Emily did mention that Emerald haven't been able to 'see' the content in Mendeley (as of this morning listing more than 100 million papers) yet but they are looking for a way to do this. One thing that came out of the discussion at the end of the talk was an idea for publishers to return versions to authors with coversheets clearly indicating what they can and can't do with that version.
  • Peter Millington (SHERPA Services) finished the presentations with a demonstration of a new policy creator tool developed to be used with RoMEO. This tool, based on the repositories policy tool created as part of the OpenDOAR suite of tools, would allow publishers to codify their policies into standardised language as a way of helping people to read and understand the policy of their publisher/journal. I for one hope publisher's start using this tool as standard. The prototype version of the tool is available now and can be found here.

The breakout session that followed the presentations asked us to consider four questions (and some of our answers):

  1. How can RoMEO help Publishers? (Track changes to policy, Visual flag for publishers to use on their websites to indicate the 'colour' of the journal, act as a central broker for enquiries so one service has a direct contact to the publisher that can be accessed by all creating a RoMEO Knowledge Base of all the enquiries for all repositories to use)
  2. How can Publishers help RoMEO? (Nominate a single point of contact, create a page for Repository Staff similar to their pages for 'Librarians', ways to identify academics (see previous blog post), clarity of policy)
  3. What message do Publishers have for Repository Administrators? (Thank you for the work done checking copyrights, don't be scared to talk to us, always reference and link back to the published item.)
  4. What message do Repository Administrators have for Publishers? (Clarity (please!), make it clear what is OA content on your website, educate individuals on copyright, communicate with us!)

A full run down of the answers to those four questions can be found at the link above.

The final panel discussion raised interesting questions that we didn't really find answers for! Issues on multimedia items in the repository; including datasets in the repository or finding ways to link the dataset repository to an outputs repository - DOI's for datasets (see the British Library's project on this topic); and the matter of what to do in the case of corrects and/or retractions being issued by publishers. The last one at least gave me some food for thought!

The event was another valuable day from the RSP featuring lively discussions on current situations and challenges facing the repository community and an invaluable opportunity to meet and have frank discussion with the Publishing Industry representatives. I think both groups got a lot out of the day along with the realisation that we have a lot more in common than might seem obvious at first glance.

August 08, 2011

IRIOS Workshop – Part One: The Presentations

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The IRIOS (Integrated Research Input and Output System) workshop at the JISC Headquarters was designed to demonstrate the preliminary look of a system designed to take information from the RUCKL funders on Grant awards and combine it with the information from University's IRs and CRIS systems. The event was attended by research managers, representatives of four RCUK funders and repository managers and all of the presentations can be seen at the link above.

The event kicked off with a video presentation from Josh Brown of JISC discussion the RIM (Research Information Management) programme of projects. One interesting statistic was that it is estimated the £85mill/year is spent on submitting grant proposals and administering awards. Once again the savings that can be realised with the use of the CERIF data format was raised and the point that REF submissions can be made to HEFCE in CERIF was highlighted as a sign of the growing importance of the standard. IRIOS was highlighted as a step towards a more integrated national system of data management. Josh closed with the news of a further JISC funding call to investigate further uses of CERIF due to be announced soon.

Simon Kerridge (Sunderland) was up next to discuss the landscape and background of the project and the need for interoperability and joined up thinking between a number of different University departments if we are to make the most of an increasingly competitive environment. He also spoke of the ways in which IRIOS might feed into the RMAS (Research Management and Administration System) project further enhancing the cloud based system. Simon finished by touching on the challenges (research data management and unique researcher IDs anyone) and opportunities for the future (esp. the JISC funding call).

Gerry Lawson (NERC) was up next with a whistle stop tour round the RCUK 'Grants on the Web' (GoW) systems. Starting with a stern warning that if the funders and institutions don't find a way to match up the data held by both parties commercial services will find a way to fill the gap (for example Elsevier's SciVal is already starting this process), thus putting both parties back into the situation where we have to buy our own data back. Other products are also making a start on this process, as can be seen in the UK PubMed Central's grant lookup tool. Gerry made the vital point that all of the information is available but linking it is going to take work. The RCUK 'Grants of the Web' system is a start in this process as it brings together all of the grants by all RCUK funders in a single system. The individual research councils then use this centralised data to populate their individual GoW interfaces with each interface being set up to the specifications of the individual research councils. With one exception, AHRC, grant data about individual funded PhDs is not included in the GoW systems due to the RCUK preference for handling funded PhDs through their network of Doctoral Training Centres. Gerry closed saying there was a real desire from the RCUK to start linking outputs with funding grants (and expanding into research data and impact measures) especially in relation to monitoring compliance with Open Access mandates. Challenges still remained; a need for a common export format (CERIF); authority files for people, projects, institutions; the issue of department structures within institutions changing over time etc.

Dale Heenan (ESRC), ably assisted by Darren Hunter (EPSRC), discussed the RCUK 'Research Outcomes Project' (ROP). The project was based on the ESRC's Research Catalogue (running on Microsoft Zentity 2.0) extended to meet the needs of the four pilot councils, AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC. (Worth noting that MRC and STFC use the e-Val system). The ROP system is designed to create an evidence base to demonstrate the economic impact of funded research and also designed to attempt to reduce duplication of effort. Upload of data can come from a range of stakeholders, grant holders (PIs or their nominated Co-Is), institutions, IRs etc. and can cover individual items or bulk uploads. Management Information is provided using Microsoft Reporting Services. Future challenges for the system include ways to automate the deposit of research outputs, development/adoption of standards such as CERIF, ways to pull data from external services like Web of Knowledge, PubMed Scopus etc.

The main presentation for the day is of the IRIOS demonstrator by Kevin Ginty and Paul Cranner (Sunderland). The IRIOS project is a 'proof of concept' demonstrator of a GoW like service using the CERIF dataformat and is based on the 'Universities for the North East' project tracking system (CRM). One feature of the service is that four levels of access (hidden, summary, read only, write) can be assigned to three distinct groups (global, individual, groups of users) allowing a fine level of dynamic control over the data contained in the system. All grants and publications have a unique ID that is automatically generated by the system and any edits mad in the current system do not feed back to the system that originated the data. Currently the system is only accepting manual linking of grant to output but there are plans to look into automation of this process. In the future it might be possible to import data from larger databases like Web of Knowledge but information gathered by the research councils indicates that only 40% of outputs are correctly attributed to the grant that funded the research.

If you would like to try the demonstrator version of the IRIOS system details on how to login can be found here.

Comments on the presentations and information on the workshops is to follow in part two.

January 22, 2008

RSP day at the British Library

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I attended my second Repositories Support Project briefing day yesterday, at the British Library. I like going to the BL as it's easy to get to, the conference facilities are really very good, and there's always the exhibition to go round in your lunch break so you do get a proper break from whatever you're learning on the day itself. But I did get the slow train yesterday, so I deserved that break!

The themes for yesterdays event were Funder mandates, Repository Metrics, Repository Statistics and Preservation Metadata. I've linked to the programme which appears to include slides from most of the presentations already.

I found the background information about funder mandates very useful: I kind of knew what was being said as I followed the announcements at the time, but it is good to see a summary that clarifies things, and the main point that occurred to me is that the funders do indeed hold the key to both authors and publishers' involvement with open access repositories.

The repository metrics presentation was interesting and entertaining, but perhaps less relevant to our repository at the moment as our VC is already keen on the repository. But no doubt we will need to be able to demonstrate its value in order to keep that interest.

The Repository Statistics tool that was shown looked most interesting, although it was a pity that the presentation did not include a demonstration of the download due to lack of time.

I was less interested by the preservation metadata workshop, but I still gleaned some useful stuff from that, including considering how we might want to record any preservation processes that might be run at some point in the future.

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