Thursday, 11 September 2008

Understanding Organisational Cultures Workshop

This workshop organised by the repository team at Cranfield University provided some really interesting insights into the realities of working with repositories.

The first half of the morning was taken up with 2 sessions from the researcher perspective. Dr Colin Macduff from The Robert Gordon University presented as the Convert. He described his PhD experience and specifically how he made his thesis available electronically. He suggested it was time to reconceptualise the thesis as an electronic entity. This could open up the possibilities for new types of PhD submission. Colin had linked to his PhD from his web page and also set up an online evaluation. His thesis has been downloaded 1400 times in about a year. He felt this access to his PhD had also helped him gain research grants.

Dr Bruce Jefferson from Cranfield was positioned as the sceptic. He gave a very lively presentation about the need for evidence to support claims that repositories increase citations. He ended his presentation with an outline of his plans to track the citation rates of his papers by depositing some in CERES (Cranfield's repository) and not others. He will then compare the citation rates. He also plans to contact people who have cited papers in CERES and ask if they accessed the paper via CERES or via another route. The results of Bruce's test could be very interesting, despite the small scale.

Neil Jacobs from JISC gave the final presentation of the morning with an outline of the national picture for repositories. He argued Open Access could enable new developments in research but that it was necessary to reduce legal worries and the need for data entry.

A breakout session then followed with 3 groups looking at cultural influences, identifying barriers and impact of RAE/REF. This was followed by a very nice lunch!

The first session of the afternoon was a very upbeat presentation about mandates by Michael White from the University of Stirling. He gave the background to the introduction of Stirling's etheses and eprints mandates. He outlined the support that is being provided to ensure the mandate is successful. High level advocacy from the Vice Principal has been hugely significant. Departments are being made responsible for ensuring compliance and so each has a rep to assist with this. They are continuing to look at ways to help make compliance as easy as possible, including bulk upload.

John Harrington then talked about how Cranfield have been re-assessing their repository, CERES. They looked at the advocacy and felt a more concerted approach was needed. They recently renamed the repository and launched a new publicity campaign. It is hoped this campaign will address most of the misconceptions about depositing in an institutional repository. They have also been talking directly with academics and hope to continue this face to face effort.

The final presentation of the day was by William Nixon from the University of Glasgow. He looked at the ways in which they have had to change and adapt the repositories at Glasgow to address the needs of the university. Enlighten, the repository for academic papers, has been positioned as central to the university's publications policy. It is also seen as key to REF with Glasgow being one of the 22 pilot institutions.

These presentations were followed up with another breakout session, looking at mandates, advocacy and responding to inevitable change. I was part of the group discussing mandates and this provided some really interesting points. A representative from the research councils asked if they should be enforcing their mandates more strictly. This lead to a discussion about how mandates could be enforced and whether penalties (such as financial) were the best approach. It was suggested that incentives might be a better approach. One approach would be for institutions to tie their repositories into the appraisal and promotion process to ensure academics deposit their papers. It was felt that without some form of sanction / incentive then mandates were unlikely to be successful.

The day ended with a general question and answer session, though there wasn’t much time left for significant discussion. Overall it was a very useful day, and provided some thought provoking discussions of the current issues institutional repositories are facing.

Understanding Organisational Cultures Workshop

Monday, 8 September 2008

DRIVER workshop Tilburg, Netherlands

The "Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research" (DRIVER) project is funded by the European Commission under the "Research Infrastructure" unit. The aim of the project is to enable open access of scientific publications and research data through a network of European institutional repositories. Although DRIVER is a European project, collaboration is sought with international repository providers from USA, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Norbert Lassou (Scientific coordinator of the project) talked about the DRIVER community’s need to agree to fundamental principal such as:
i) Make research publications open access.
ii) Follow the guidelines (DRIVER) to make services interoperable.
iii) The need to be committed to ensure long term access.
iv) Join the DRIVER community (open to anyone) to become part of the repository network.

He emphasised that the main aim of DRIVER was not just to build a network infrastructure but to promote open access of research data. Their goal is to support open access publishing (journal and book), new types of citation & impact measuring services and to develop and provide long-term archiving services for repositories. They support three user groups: repository managers, service providers and researchers as well as the general public. They claim one of the benefits of joining will be that funding and research organisations will be able to build their own interface on the DRIVER data index as well as sharing developments by service providers. Furthermore they aim to develop automated article transfer from the publisher to institutional repositories (European PEER project) and metadata transfer workflows from article databases into institutional repositories (e.g. PubMed > Fact Science research database)

In order to become harvestable by DRIVER your repository has to be compliant with DRIVER guidelines. (The networking of repositories is done using OAI-PMH protocol although this has not been working very well however it is too widespread to drop it completely.) The DRIVER guideline is an ongoing development. A new version of the guideline is currently under development. DRIVER has developed a tool (Validator) to check the contents of repositories (full text) for the quality of metadata. There were technical glitches with this software that has been sorted now. The Validator tool was used (to validate the content of repositories) on 100 repositories and no repository was found to be 100% compliant. However, only a few were non-harvestable. They now allow for ~5% error margin.

The DRIVER team has also developed D-Net Software (DRIVER Network-Evolution-Toolkit) which is an open source toolkit for re-use by repository networks. Use of this software ensures interoperability but it is not considered necessary for each institution to have this software. This software requires a lot of resource and hardware and therefore the cost is high. They would only recommend this to national consortiums or large repositories that support several institutions.

The other talks were more focused on the technical side, providing details of how the network of repositories is achieved; data is aggregated and indexed to be used for searching, browsing and profiling by users. They spoke about the “European Information Space” that is maintained by the DRIVER consortium [].

Mentor scheme (mediation)
Soon to be launched, this project aims to mediate networking between repositories staff/managers. If a particular individual is experiencing problems with the different aspects of repositories or are starting to collect a different type of material and they have no prior experience then they would contact DRIVER and they should find a list of other people doing similar things.

Slides from the talk are available form the Tilburg website [