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News about City University's open access repository, philosophical musings about Open Access

Open access journal hosting in City Research Online: Learning at City Journal

We’ve recently been working with colleagues in City’s Learning Development Centre (LDC) and at EPrints Services to use our EPrints repository to host the LDC’s Learning at City Journal. The idea was to create a space within EPrints where electronic articles can be stored and served, with the layout, formatting, contextual information and branding you would expect from other e-journals you see on the web. The model for this was the University of Huddersfield’s Teaching in Lifelong Learning journal, which also uses a space within their larger EPrints repository.

Previously City Research Online (CRO) has archived individual Learning at City Journal articles and grouped these together, but this grouping doesn’t have all the nice e-journal added value material. EPrints Services have created a new area in EPrints for us, which will be the journal’s home page. As you will see when you click through, it’s fairly bare-bones, with little contextual information or branding, but it does group together articles nicely. When you click through to articles, EPrints also generates a “Journal Details” box (see for example this article), allowing easy navigation around the contents of the journal.

Next steps are to develop and add the contextual information for the journal, and add some much needed branding. We also need to check that all material from each hard copy issue is being included- for example editorial messages, tables of contents etc. We also need to be able to assign Digital Object Identifiers to every article using CrossRef, so that the standard, persistent identifiers for scholarly articles appear for each record.

Once this work is done, we will be able to publicise the work around the University and more widely (in the latter case an important thing will be to register the journal with the Directory of Open Access Journals). It’s worth noting that there will be no Article Processing Charges for academics and other colleagues to submit articles to the journal, unlike commercial publishers offering open access options! Hopefully this publicity will stoke interest with colleagues- and you never know, other parts of the University might want to develop an open access e-journal with us!

Filed under: City Research Online, Open Access, , , , ,

Repository records now in City’s new Library Search

Over the last few months I’ve been involved in implementing Summon here at City, which we have called Library Search. One of the things we wanted to make sure we included in Library Search’s content set were repository records, and they have now been uploaded to the service’s index. You can view all repository records in Library Search, and the first hit for this search is an example of a City Research Online full text research paper coming up in a real search.

It will be very interesting to see if our download statistics improve as a result of this, and I expect that they will- presumably City users of the service will be interested in City academics’ research! You can read more about the development of this service over at our Summon at City University London blog.

Filed under: City Research Online, , , ,

Event report: “Dealing with Data – what’s the role for the library?”

Sorry for the lack of posts to this blog, loyal readers. I intend to write something about the work we’re doing on staff profiles here at City soon.

In the meantime, here’s a write-up of an event I attended in Ghent, Belgium (which, by the way, is a lovely little city). Entitled “Dealing with Data – what’s the role for the library?” it was on that perennial hot topic, research data management (RDM). I found two things about the event particularly useful: its focus on how library services (as distinct from all the other parts of universities that have a hand in RDM) can support RDM, and the presence of real live researchers who talked about their experiences with RDM and what library services can do to help. What follows is a summary of a couple of the sessions I found particularly useful, and a lesson I think can be taken from the workshop that I hope to be able to apply here at City.

After a couple of opening sessions that set the scene on RDM in the context of open science and what we mean when we talk about RDM (a slippery subject) came for me what was the best session of the morning, “Meet the Scientists”. Often meetings about RDM (and also open access) limit themselves to librarians and other information professionals talking amongst themselves, without input from those people we are actually supposed to be helping, researchers. Therefore hearing from working scientists was really refreshing, particularly since the scientists came from three disparate research areas (digital humanities, biology and market research) each with their own challenges. A number of issues were identified:

  • In the digital humanities, there is a problem that data can be heterogeneous, and this can be a barrier for researchers sharing (“no one else will be interested in my research data”), though this fact can often be used as an excuse not to share.
  • In biology, the GenBank repository for genetic datasets is very well established, but researchers do not share experimental data. There are perceived issues with data quality, but also issues with accreditation when sharing (“will people who re-use my data give me suitable acknowledgement?”). The problem of accreditation came up a number of times, and it’s notable that journal publishers are now evolving standards to try to manage citing datasets.
  • In market research, data modelling allows for natural experiments to take place, but this can also require versioning of datasets, a potentially formidable task for universities looking at RDM.

The panel suggested a number of ways that libraries can help researchers with RDM:

  • Encourage researchers to deposit their data.
  • Offer advice to researchers about where they might deposit data, whether this be locally in an institutional repository, in a discipline repository or in a generic repository. Don’t be afraid to offer this advice- researchers will be grateful!
  • Think small: running small projects with groups of researchers is a good way to develop services. Don’t bite of more than you can chew, but doing something is always better than doing nothing!
  • Think about workflows that created the data in the first place and how these might be preserved.
  • Think about providing machine access to data where possible via APIs.

So a lot to be thinking about!

The other session I wanted to highlight was on “Actively Supporting Data Management: Learning From the Approach of Three Research Institutions”. The session covered how three library services had gone about awareness raising about RDM with librarian colleagues. Dr Andrew Cox of the University of Sheffield’s Information School identified barriers to entry for librarians when first thinking about RDM:

  1. Librarians are already over-burdened with roles, and RDM is yet another thing to worry about.
  2. Librarians don’t often have first-hand experience of the research process and so can feel unfamiliar with some of the issues relating to RDM.
  3. Current library skills don’t always translate to an RDM context.
  4. The problem of being taken seriously: will researchers be interested in what librarians have to say about RDM?
  5. The scale of the task: RDM can involve setting up a service or services from scratch.
  6. The lack of infrastructure to assist with RDM.

Therefore Dr Cox recommended the following steps to raise awareness about RDM issues:

  • Confidence raising: giving people the confidence to talk about RDM, even if they don’t have all the answers.
  • Increasing knowledge about RDM issues.
  • Encouraging changes of professional identity to include RDM as one of the things that librarians have expertise in.
  • Providing prompts to getting started whether or not policy and infrastructure are in place, and instead of waiting for these to come into place through the actions of others.

In conclusion this was a really good event, and I wish I could have stayed on for the main conference, Elag2013: Inside Out Library. The take-home lesson for me was that it’s better to do something rather than nothing when it comes to RDM, since if we in the library don’t then perhaps no one will.

Filed under: Events, Research Data Management, , , ,

Quick update

Just a quick post to say that we’re still here and still working on making City a more open access-friendly place! In lieu of any major pieces of news about the service, here are a couple of other places I’ve been writing. First is over at LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog, where I wrote with a couple of colleagues in defence of institutional repositories. Second, I’ve set up a new blog with my colleague Lucy to discuss another project that’s taking up a fair bit of time at the moment, implementing Serials Solutions’ Summon resource discovery software. One of the many advantages of Summon is that it will make City Research Online content more visible to one of our key user groups, the staff and students at City. I intend to write about repositories and web-scale resource discovery at some point, so keep an eye out if you’re interested in that.

Filed under: City Research Online, Systems, , , ,

Adding Almetrics badges to City Research Online

First post of 2013! I’ve been lax in posting to this blog, apologies loyal readers!

A nice new piece of functionality with City Research Online’s repository- we have added Altmetrics badges to records. See for example this recent paper which has already picked up some Twitter attention.These badges display the amount of social media attention a particular article has attracted. They provide what is hopefully an interesting extra piece of functionality along with the Addthis buttons, which allow users to post about articles to social media. As so often the magic of DOIs is used, with the Altmetrics plug-in matching articles from the DOI displayed on a record against tracked activity via its API.

It will be interesting to see trends as they emerge on records we make available via the repository, and to see if any of our users a) notices the change and b) comments on the new metric as disaplyed, either positively or negatively.

Filed under: City Research Online, , , , ,

Making City Research Online OpenAire compliant

We’ve just made City Research Online (CRO) OpenAire compliant. This means that all EU FP7 funded research added to CRO will be made available via OpenAire’s Discovery Portal, and that this research will be fully compliant with the EU’s open access mandate for FP7 funded research.

To make CRO OpenAire compliant was relatively straightforward, since the ever-helpful guys at Eprints Services did the hard work of installing the OpenAire Compliance Plug-In. It was then a matter of using OpenAire’s validation tool to ensure things were working properly, then registering CRO with OpenAire (see CRO’s entry in this list of compliant repositories). All we need to do now is work out which of our full text papers have received FP7 funding!

I’m happy that we’ve managed to do this piece of work. There is currently something of a push to get UK repositories OpenAire compliant (there has been lots of activity on the various repository email lists), since very few in the UK are at the moment. It allows us in the CRO team to offer another service to our users: if you have FP7-funded research, give the outputs to us and we will do the legwork in making it comply with the EU’s open access mandate. There is also the imminent (possible but strongly rumoured) prospect of the EU mandating Green open access for all the research it funds- and if that happens we’ll be ahead of the game in offering this service to our users.

Filed under: City Research Online, Open Access, Systems, , , , , , ,

Research Libraries UK conference 2012

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Research Libraries UK conference 2012. It was held at St James’ Park in Newcastle, a rather huge football stadium (though of course we used the conference centre rather the terraces!) The conference was “high level” insofar as it examined big-picture issues relating to research libraries. In this it reflected the membership of RLUK, and attendees were mainly senior library managers as well as the odd interloper such as myself.

The reason for my attendance was hearing Janet Finch talk about the report her committee produced, which has become known as the Finch Report. Below, I summarise the interesting points of the other plenary sessions and examine in more detail the session in which Finch and others talked about open access. For reasons of space I have omitted reporting on some very lively Pecha Kucha sessions and one of the plenary sessions, as well as Stephen Curry’s excellent and engaging researcher’s perspective on open access, since I reported on a very similar presentation of his recently.

Roly Keating, British Library. Starting off the conference at a very high level, new BL Chief Executive Keating explained how he viewed the BL’s place in the “library ecosystem”. it was a dense presentation, but a few things in particular that he said stuck with me:

  • That the BL is a guarantor of information for future generations- and that this guarantee now extended (by statutory remit) to web content.
  • That the BL (and by extension other libraries) is a cultural institutions in its own right, as well as a traditional library in the sense of being a repository for physical objects.
  • Data management is a new horizon for the BL- for example they partnered with the BBC recently to digitise and turn into a dataset the Radio Times, giving the BBC for the first time a complete record of its broadcasting schedule since its inception.
  • The power and value of the physical object has not diminished in this new digital world; in fact it is enhanced.
  • The move to non-physical legal deposit is the biggest challenge on the BL’s horizon, but presents some amazing opportunities, e.g. turning the UK’s entire web domain into a dataset to allow its programmatic analysis.

User-centred cataloguing: thinking differently. This session was on the opportunities presented by shared services for cataloguing, in light of recent developments in data interoperability (not least that old library favourite, linked data). Economies of scale can be derived from a shared approach to the re-use of cataloguing data. The question is how to usefully do this.

Redefining the Research Library Model. A report on the RLUK project of the same name, which summarised new thinking in this area (and the website above includes some very interesting position papers on this subject). Most interesting was news from JISC on their forthcoming changes, which (for repositories at least) seem to lay emphasis on research data management.

Hidden Gems: Revealing or Special Collections. An overview of the state of play with special collections in research libraries. Some provocative points were made here, including one from Andrew Green, National Library of Wales, that perhaps those collections of uncatalogued material should be gotten rid of- how useful are they really?

Open Access to UK Research Outputs. As mentioned above, this session was of the most interest to me personally. Janet Finch kicked off, summarising how the Finch Report came to the conclusions it did, and the implications of those conclusions for libraries. The Finch Report has been discussed at great length elsewhere (in particular the way it favours Gold Open Access (OA) over Green) so I won’t rehash that discussion here, but some of the points and questions I took from Finch’s presentation were as follows:

  • Finch made very clear that there was no ministerial or other governmental influence over the findings of the committee and its report.
  • Finch stated that the remit of the report was (among other things) to make peer reviewed research available “free”, but free for whom? The emphasis on Gold OA means that journal publishing will move from a “reader pays” to an “author pays” model. Moreover, the cost of Gold OA author processing charges has been estimated at £60m per year on top of (or taken out of) the UK’s research budget, which will go directly to publishers.
  • Finch stated that “Maintaining the viability if the publishing industry” was one of the Committee’s success criteria, but it’s unclear to me why this should have deemed a criteria for success, if the goal was free access to research and if there was no Ministerial influence on the Committee.
  • Finch made some reassuring (from my perspective as a repository manager!) remarks about the expectation that we will be in a “mixed economy” of Green and Gold for the foreseeable future.

Following on from Janet Finch, was Mark Thorley from RCUK, to explain RCUK’s also much-discussed and recently revised open access policy. This policy puts into practice the Finch Report’s recommendations by enforcing open access for research it funds, with a clear preference for the Gold over the Green route (which at first glance seems to say that researchers with RCUK funding must, when they publish, go Gold if they can; and if they can’t go Gold they must go Green). When asked about whether this would circumscribe authors’ choices, Thorley was very clear that the policy applied at the level of journals rather than individuals. In other words, RCUK won’t be policing the choices of individuals as long as they have made their work openly accessible whether that is by going Gold or Green (or indeed both). What remains unclear to me is how researchers themselves are supposed to know this, given the wording of the current policy and the advice that surrounds it.

All in all the conference was very interesting for the “core” aspects of my role (i.e. open access), but it was also fascinating to find out about the many other hot topics around research libraries. I also managed to catch up with some old friends and meet some new people, which is always good!

Filed under: Events, , , , , , , , ,

Open Access Week 2012: Opening Research and Data

Last week, as part of Open Access Week 2012, colleagues at LSHTM, Birkbeck, LSE, and SOAS (as well as myself) organised an event, Opening Research and Data. It was intended to be a broad overview of “where we’re at” with open access. As such, we were lucky to be able to put together a bill that was eminently capable of taking a high-level look at the open agenda, particularly in light of recent developments such as the Finch Report and the new RCUK policy on open access.

The first presenter was Frederick Friend, Honorary Director Scholarly Communication at UCL.  Frederick gave a broad overview of the development of open access up to the present day. The strongest message I took from his presentation was the flaws in the Finch Report, and as a result the flaws in the RCUK open access policy. He noted that there was (unjust) antagonism towards institutional repositories (IRs) , particularly since IRs are the medium of by which the vast majority of the 20% of open access journal content has been made available. He also characterised the Gold option recommended by Finch and RCUK as being uncosted and to the detriment of cheaper Green OA. He likened the policy to trying to make an aeroplane flight to open access with just one (Gold) engine- something much easier to do with two (green and gold) engines!  He also asked academic colleagues to question what exactly they will receive in return for potentially very high Gold OA article processing charges. You can view Frederick Friend’s presentation here.

Next up was Professor Stephen Curry from Imperial College London. Prof Curry is, as he admitted, someone who has recently become interested in open access, and has blogged prolifically on the issue recently, as well as writing on open access and other scientific matters for The Guardian. His general message was that it had been a positive year for open access, since the “fundamentally unanswerable” argument for open access had been won, and awareness of open access was greater than ever before. He had a few concerns, which echoed those of Fred Friend, in particular that Finch & RCUK’s emphasis on Gold will benefit commercial publishers, and that the open access movement must show more unity given the sometimes divisive and rancorous nature of the Gold v. Green debate. Finally, he mentioned that the spurious indicator of academic worth, the Impact Factor, should be done away with. You can view Prof Curry’s presentation here.

Providing a couple of “real-life” experiences of open access were Dr Melissa Terras and Dr Antonio Gasparrini. Dr Terras, a Digital Humanities scholar at UCL, presented about her experiences at using social media (in particular blogging and Twitter) to promote papers made available in UCL’s Discovery repository. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a combination of well-nurtured social networks and openly accessible research equals lots of downloads and hence wide dissemination of research (and see here for a fuller account of a previous version of this presentation). You can view Dr Terras’ presentation here.

Dr Gasparrini is an early-career medical researcher at LSHTM. His presentation focussed on navigating the often confusing open access environment to ensure he complied with open access policy, in this case that of the MRC. In his experience, it was often a question of trading off limited funds assigned for Gold OA against a journal’s reputation, as summarised by Impact Factor. Dr Gasparrini’s best find was that of the Journal of Statistical Software, a fully-open access journal with an APC cost of £0, and a good Impact Factor too.  Dr Gasparrini finished his presentation by pointing to the open software movement, which seems to have gotten far further towards “open” than scholarly communications (though there are structural and commercial reasons for this, I would argue). You can view Dr Gasparrini’s presentation here.

Finally it was the turn of the funding agencies to give their perspective, in two presentations. The first was from David Carr from the Wellcome Trust, who detailed Wellcome’s open access policy. Open access to research is covered by an RCUK-like policy, which emphasises Gold over Green open access. David also laid some emphasis on Wellcome’s plans to better enforce already required research data management plans, which should further the open data agenda (something covered in passing, rather than in depth, by the day’s presentations). You can view David’s presentation here.

Last up was Ben Ryan from EPSRC, who was wearing his RCUK policy hat. Ben had the somewhat unenviable task of explaining RCUK’s open access policy to an audience comprised of a large number of those likely to be critical of RCUK’s policy, not least repository managers. Criticism of the policy has been well-rehearsed elsewhere, but one notable statement from Ben was that RCUK would not be prescriptive within institutions about how they complied with the policy; instead it would be down to individuals to choose, within the criteria laid down by RCUK. The possible perverse effects of the policy have also been documented (briefly, journal publishers may up embargo periods to prevent Green OA being an option); Stephen Curry, in the later discussion, noted that any publisher changing embargo periods to exclude Green OA as an option would be likely to see authors vote with their feet. Ben’s presentation can be viewed here.

The day was rounded off with a lively discussion, proving that people had been thinking about and engaging with the issues raised. Despite being somewhat biased, as I helped organise the event, I think it was a great success and a worthy and thought-provoking way in which to celebrate Open Access Week 2012.

Filed under: Events, Open Access, , , , ,

Using City Research Online to serve papers to RePEc

One of the promises of the creation of a network of institutional repositories was that this would truly be a network, in the sense that there would be facility for appropriate transfer of material between services (I wrote about this for UKCoRR’s blog a while ago if you want more context). For example, an academic should be able to post a paper in the home repository, and also see this transferred automatically to e.g. the ArXiv.

We saw an opportunity to do this here at City when we began archiving our Department of Economics Discussion Papers Series. It soon emerged that the main point of discovery for economists looking for papers was the Repository of Papers in Economics (RePEc). The person in charge of the series had set up a page on the Economics website that pushed the papers in the series to RePEc, but this required an awful lot of maintenance, in particular ensuring that data could be transferred to RePEc in an appropriate format as RDF files.

So, we offered to take care of ensuring the series was automatically transferred from City Research Online (CRO) to RePEc. This involved some work with Eprints services and the people at RePEc to set up an area at CRO which indexed the papers as RDF files using the eprints2redif script. This is then used to push these files to City’s Department of Economics page at RePEc. The CRO RDF file-set updates overnight, meaning that additions, deletions and changes to the files therein will quickly be reflected on our RePEc page.

This will hopefully be a convenient and useful service for our economists- add your discussion paper to CRO, and it will automatically appear in RePEc! For us it’s a real win as well- we can take the administrative and technical burden off the economists’ hands, and also demonstrate that we are able to offer this kind of service to other departments. Also, it means that we should see a significant improvement in our download statistics, since the papers’ records in RePEc actually point back to full text papers in CRO when people hit the download button (see the URL to download this paper, for example). So it really is a win-win situation!

I would encourage other repository managers to have a think about this. I found the Department of Economics to be very receptive when we approached them, particularly when it became clear that we take on work they were spending time upon. There is some technical work that has to be done, but nothing that should flummox an experienced Eprints administrator. The next thing I’m going to think about is whether we can arrange something similar for our Centre for Mathematical Science, who are keen users of CRO and the aforementioned ArXiv.

Filed under: City Research Online, Systems, , , , , ,

1,000th paper added to City Research Online!

Last Weds 5th September we made live our 1,000th full text, openly accessible paper. The article in question was part of the Department of Economics Discussion Papers series, entitled: García-Alonso, M. D. C. & Garcia-Marinoso, B. (2007). “The strategic interaction between firms and formulary committees: effects on the prices of new drugs” . We’re now up to a total of 1,030 full text papers in the repository.

Given that City Research Online was only formally launched in October 2011, and that we aimed to make 500 papers live in its first year of operation, we’re pretty pleased with our progress thus far. It is of course testament to the support our team has received and of the willingness of City authors to contribute to the service. Thanks to all our users and depositors, here’s to our next 1,000 openly accessible papers!

Filed under: City Research Online, Open Access, , ,

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