I was lucky enough to attend the RSP Autumn School in Wales two weeks ago. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about new developments in OA and how other IRs have successfully demonstrated their value. For example, Trinity College, Dublin, has taken up the tools of business intelligence to ‘defend against the Dark Arts’ and have been turning raw data into compelling visual graphics that academics and university administrators can take away and use. Niamh Brennan illustrated how effective this could be by showing how their results started circulating in the university and eventually trickled their way through to direct statements made by Irish policy makers.
Niamh also stressed the importance of having your highest performing papers (the university’s ‘crown jewels’) as OA full-text in your repository. As many university administrators see the IR as part of their strategy to raise the institution’s research profile, this clearly makes sense. However, it seems the OA aspect often gets lost in the quest to capture all the bibliographic information of a university’s publication output. Holding the bibliographic information of these items is important – but it is not going to be very effective in showcasing the work or making it easily accessible to other academics, policy makers, healthcare workers, entrepreneurs, members of industry, or other interested individuals.
More evidence of the positive effects of OA on research impact was presented by Josh Brown as he reported the findings of a recently published JISC report on how OA materials translate into concrete benefits for the private sector http://open-access.org.uk/reports . As more of these kinds of reports are published it will be interesting to see if more universities join those who have already made OA full-text deposit a requirement for REF consideration. This would be one very good way for a university to make sure their ‘crown jewels’ are where they should be, and to demonstrate their commitment to helping academics’ research achieve as much impact as possible.