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|The I-WIRE Project - A Repository Enhancement Project|
I was fortunate enough to be able to take some time out of our busy testing phase last Friday to visit the Repositories Support Project's event in London on Open Access and the impact for libraries and librarians. I was drawn by the content and the speakers, and my instinct was right as it turned out to be compelling from start to finish. Here are the points that resonated with me and my world.
Bill Hubbard of SHERPA opened the event by defining Open Access, its background and drivers. Bill went on to give his view of where the academic community is with Open Access. The scope has always been more than outputs alone: it includes data, grey literature (e.g., lab note-books) and arts media amongst other things, but there is currently a big gap between 'open to read' - the focus of most repositories - and 'strong' Open Access that includes use and re-use of data.
While there have been a number of drivers on the road to Open Access, including the serials crisis, Open Access is a component of the overall shift in academic practices and is something that the community is shifting to 'because it can'. Change is coming, indicated by the academic use of Slideshare, Flickr, YouTube, Mendeley and personal web pages. Bill states that all three units that operate in the academic model - Academics, Funders and Institutions - are in favour of Open Access. The structures, services and processes are in place to support Open Access. Repositories add value to the processes by providing control and authority over content.
Alma Swan gave a very thorough overview of the JISC funded and well publicised economic case for Open Access, including John Houghton's modelling and the work that Alma has undertaken with institutions in the UK, Australia, Netherlands, Denmark and the US. Anyone familiar with the work will know that research intensive institutions don't always come out well in the model, in fact they can see a potentially negative financial impact where Gold Open Access (pay-to-publish) costs rise above a certain level. Alma acknowledged this and emphasised that the UK can save money overall and we need to discuss at a community level how the overall saving is managed so that individual institutions are not disadvantaged. These discussions are already taking place between research funders and institutions.
One of the questions at the end of Alma's talk highlighted that Subject Repository costs weren't included in the Houghton model as apparently no one can see their sustainability; whereas Institutional Repositories are sustainable due to the institutional imperative. In Alma's view, Subject Repositories should harvest their content from Institutional Repositories and not take direct ingest.
Wim van der Stelt of Springer provided a publisher's perspective on Open Access. He expressed his bemusement that Open Access is an academic's cause but championed primarily by librarians! He went on to assure the room full of (mostly) librarians that Springer is different, has an 'agnostic business model' and is driven by customer demand, and so is working with libraries on Open Access, pioneered the 'hybrid journal' and is a 'green' publisher on SHERPA's RoMEO database. The internet has helped change the publishers role from purely distribution since the 50's and Springer has adapted to this. However, the pay-to-view and pay-to-publish systems will need to co-exist for some time as the Gold route to Open Access is growing, but not quickly enough.
The development of the University of Glasgow's repository was covered in a case study from Susan Ashworth, providing a fascinating insight into the university's work since 2001 to create a culture of Open Access, not just an institutional repository, and to evolve the repository into a central publications management system.
Key drivers for this work have been increasing citations, presenting a public view of the university's research profile, demonstrating compliance with funders mandates, managing publications and preparing for the REF.
Sue pointed out that building relationships with the university research office and academic departments has been fundamental to the repository's success. There is also a strong national initiative in the form of the Open Access Team for Scotland, and talk of a Scottish council to help create a climate of opinion on the importance of Open Access. A Scottish Open Access declaration was made in 2004, spurring all universities on to set up repositories and put mandates in place. Glasgow's mandate was issued in 2008, partly influenced by the library's experience of collecting publication data for the RAE. The mandate covers new publications from 2008, requesting bibliographic data as the minimum, and also providing a standard form of address to aid citation analysis.
The university clearly recognises the importance of its repositories. It has three, making the management of different types of outputs more straight forward, and all three are harvested by the university's library catalogue discovery tool.
The university's research and strategy committee is given regular reports, generated using ROAR and Google Analytics. These reports show that the full-text ratio is growing from the current ten per cent.
Sue talked briefly about the Gold route to Open Access. Glasgow has a pay-to-publish fund but anticipates this being difficult to argue for in the next financial year, and expects academics to cover these costs in their grant applications.
Glasgow is currently conducting a mini-REF exercise using a modified version of EPrints that allows academics to rank their top four outputs with some supporting text attached to the publication record, and to record 'esteem' and 'impact' information. Academics can change these records at any time but it provides a good view in the lead up to REF, and has also seen an increased rate of self-deposit, some with full text.
Important lessons for Glasgow have been the importance of advocacy, relationships, acknowledging the variety of user needs (the repositories support multiple deposit methods), making use of external influences and linking the work to central institutional requirements. Which led on nicely to a question about the better driver for self-deposit: the mandate or REF? In Sue's opinion, while the mandate was instrumental in triggering the Open Access debate at the university, the REF preparation has resulted in deposits.
David Carr of the Wellcome Trust provided a funder's perspective. Maximising access to outputs is central to the Wellcome Trust's mission, and it was recognised in the early 2000's that traditional academic models were not consistent with this goal. The trust made it mandatory in 2006 for their funded outputs to be made Open Access and is working with the major Scientific, Technical & Medical publishers to achieve this. There are challenges: improving compliance, persuading researchers of the benefits, improving payment mechanisms, clarifying publishers' policies and flipping the model from subscription to 'author-pays'. Questions at the end of David's presentation demonstrated a strong opinion that the funders need to take a much stricter line in enfforcing their policies.
Chris Middleton of the University of Nottingham talked about the institution's approach to funding Open Access publishing. A survey in 2009 showed that 14% of institutions had a central Open Access fund and that there is generally a low awareness of such funds amongst academics. Chris also pointed out that it's difficult to budget for these funds as they are sensitive to author up-take.
A presentation of the role of professional librarians in repository management was given by Jackie Wickham of the RSP. There has been a phenomenal growth in this area in the last five years, partly driven by the global move to Open Access, central government support and JISC funding, preparations for REF and providing a service to academics. A recent survey conducted by the RSP identified that communication skills and perseverance are key skills for librarians working with repositories, as anyone involved in this area will know!
Paul Ayris of UCL provided the European perspective on things, and talked about some of the european initiatives such as the Open Access theses gateway DART-Europe, LIBER and LERU. Importantly, the Gold Open Access route has been acknowledged at a European level as being too expensive and difficult to justify in the current economical climate, so the community is at an interesting cross-roads for the Gold and Green routes. At the end of Paul's presentation, Ken Chad suggested that portals and aggregators should make more use of 'attention data' and that this could be a growth area where institutions' services could be developed to rival those of Google.
Bill Hubbard closed by stating that the community is moving to Open Access 'because it can'. The whole academic model can be changed. It is up to funders to set the direction through their funding and programmes, institutions to enable and facilitate, and researchers to research.
That's my take on the event, but you don't have to take my word for it as the presentations are now on-line.
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|« May 2013|