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

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