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

George Monbiot on Open Access in the Guardian

George Monbiot has written an excellent piece on open access and scholarly publishing in today’s Guardian. It’s the lead comment piece, too! Provocatively titled and aggressively argued, it’s bound to put some backs up, so  I look forward to responses from the publishers and others in the letters page over the next few days.

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Filed under: Open Access,

First OA items available in City Research Online

I’m pleased to announce that after a lot of testing and configuration, we have made our first seven items available in City Research Online, City’s open access research repository. The items can be viewed and accessed at the latest additions area of the website. The items are courtesy of Neil Thurman, who directs the Masters in Electronic Publishing here at City, which somehow seems very appropriate!

So, we have some content! Now we need to get more, and do all the tedious stuff like writing documentation and supporting web pages. But this is a real milestone, and a reminder (if one were needed) why we are doing this in the first place.

Filed under: City Research Online, Open Access,

Peter Murray-Rust on problems with Institutional Repositories

Peter Murray-Rust has been posting to his blog with some awkward questions for those of us involved in institutional repositories. His basic point is that institutional repositories only make sense for organisational reasons, and not for any other, and that researchers search by discipline, not at an institutional level.

His most recent post, Criteria for Successful Repositories, contains some salutary lessons for IR people, and while I’m not sure I agree with all of his points, it certainly is providing food for thought.

Filed under: Open Access,

Repository Fringe 2011- day two

Earlier in the week, I blogged about day one of the Repository Fringe 2011. This post, logically enough, is about day two of that same event. Again, I add the caveat that this is a partial account, and that further details can be found on the Repository Fringe website.

The first session of the day was a set of presentations on the the JISC Repositories Takeup and Embedding programme. The presenters all gave good presentations about the wide range of projects which fall under this umbrella programme, but the session was stolen by the final presentation. This was delivered by Robin Burgess from Glasgow School of Art, who SANG A SONG. That’s right, a repository takeup and embedding song.

Next up was Mark Hahnel talking about his Figshare service. Mark was a PhD student at Imperial, who realised that there was no easy way to collate and share his figures, scientific data and results and other media. In response, he developed the Figshare service. It seems to me to be comparable to Mendeley, except that it allows collation and sharing of data rather than formal research outputs. Data curation and sharing has been something that repository-type-people have been grappling with for a while, but it seems to me that Figshare might be the “killer app” for this, given that it appears to be easy to use and has exemplary social media functionality, e.g. allowing users to provide feedback on data. Definitely a service to keep an eye on.

After lunch, there were some more round table discussion sessions. I picked the session “How Repositories are being used for REF & repository advocacy”, chaired by Helen Muir from QMUC. I volunteered to provide feedback to the conference on this, and here are the points that were raised by the group:

  1. There is the risk that the repository might be seen to be only for REF purposes. Further, there is a possibility that the repository might lose sight of its Open Access goal when focussing on REF matters.
  2. There are managerial issues in dealing with spikes in submission of materials.
  3. There is a risk that academics’ engagement with the repository could tale off post-REF, and a challenge in ensuring this does not happen.
  4. The possibility of automated harvesting of data from citations databases such as Web of Science or Scopus for REF purposes was discussed, and it was noted that there were problems with the subject coverage outside of STEM subjects.
  5. This led on to discussion of the possibility of back-filling of the repository as a result of REF work. It was noted that re-surfacing and re-purposing of data for REF purposes can make this data seem “fresh”, and demonstrate the good work done by the repository.
  6. The old info science problem of disambiguation came up, in relation to authors sitting in more than one department (where do they really sit?), and departments splitting, merging and disappearing. There seemed to be no easy answers to these challenges!
  7. Despite these challenges listed above (and others), there was a general feeling that REF provided a great way of engaging with the wider university, and that it was an important opportunity which repositories could not afford to miss out on. There was also the possibility that, if repositories don’t engage with REF, that the repository could be sidelined.
  8. The above notwithstanding, it was felt extremely important not to let the Open Access aspects of repositories to be lost.

Now, a shameless plug: I will be talking about REF matters at a forthcoming RSP event, called the Readiness for REF (R4R) Workshop, taking place in London on September 5th.

The closing keynote address was delivered by Professor Gary Hall from Coventry University. This was a refreshing break from the instrumentalist, utilitarian approach so often taken by repository people who (understandably enough) are interested in solutions. Instead, Hall talked about the politics of repositories (and not just the interminable Green vs. Gold OA arguments). He posited the idea that repositories and Open Access are interventions in the standard practices of publishers, and are hence politically radical. There was a lot more to Hall’s arguments, and I confess I didn’t take as many notes as I should have, but it was good to take a step back and think about the philosophy of Open Access. It was also rare to hear a presentation at a repository conference in which the names of Foucault, Nietzsche and Zizek are invoked!

All in all, Repository Fringe is an excellent conference, with its air of informality and the way it brings together a wide variety of repository people. Holding it in Edinburgh during the Festival gives it an extra something that other cities would struggle to emulate.

Filed under: Events, , , ,

Repository Fringe 2011- day one

Last week I attended the Repository Fringe 2011 conference in Edinburgh. Repository Fringe is intended to be a less formal alternative to the bigger repository conferences such as Open Repositories, in keeping with the festive air in Edinburgh during August. What follows is what I took from the conference, and is partial- there’s also a remarkably comprehensive live blog of the event on the Repository Fringe website and the event’s Twitter hashtag which will fill in the many gaps in my account.

The conference kicked off with a presentation from Eloy Rodrigues from the University of Minho in Portugal. He summarised the work that he and colleagues had been doing to foster the growth of repositories in Portugal, and to create a truly national infrastructure. This has been done to an admirable extent, with a Portugal-wide aggregator called RCAAP, a repository for Portuguese researchers without a home institution, and a service aggregating Brazilian and Portuguese repositories to create a portal by which all Portuguese language OA material can be accessed (now incorporated into the main RCAAP service linked to above).

The presentation made me consider the way in which smaller nations (off the top of my head I thought of Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, Australia and colleagues on Twitter added Norway, Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark; there are probably others too) can organise national infrastructures in a way that larger and perhaps more disparate nations have problems in so doing. Portugal, Australia and the Netherlands are particularly good examples of nations that have linked repositories directly to governmental research dissemination policy at a national level.

Next up was Thomas Krichel, talking about the Author Claim project. Author Claim is an attempt to crack the name disambiguation nut, a long-standing problem for research management. The service allows authors to “self-disambiguate” their research outputs, incidentally a model we at City are using for the repository project. This is great, but left me wondering about the various projects out there looking at these issues, and how they relate to one another (Names, ORCID etc. etc.). If anyone can point to any guidance on this, I would be most grateful- perhaps a topic for a future UKCORR meeting or similar?

The afternoon saw a round-table session on SWORD metadata package and standards, the lesson from which I took: there are as many metadata standards for transferring data as there are repositories! Following on from this were the always-enjoyable Pecha Kucha sessions. The two most interesting sessions (because I was unfamiliar with the projects) were those from Adrian Stevenson (UKOLN) on the LOCAH project, which is converting Archives Hub and COPAC data into freely available open linked data; and from Sheila Fraser (EDINA) on a project to mine OpenURL activity data to (amongst other things) suggest similar items to those discovered, and to track resource usage.

Then it was off to the rooftop of the Informatics Forum, which featured lovely views over the Crags and Arthur’s Seat, as well as the University district, for some drinks in the August sunshine.

A report on day two of the conference to follow!

Filed under: Events, , ,