City Open Access

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

RSP Autumn School – bringing the emphasis back to OA

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.

Filed under: Events

RIN event: How do we make the case for research data centres?

I attended the Research Information Network’s event, “How do we make the case for research data centres?“. The event was to mark the launch of the RIN/ JISC report, “Data centres: their use, value and impact“.  It was pretty high-level stuff, with plenty of discussion about the relationship of data centres to the research process and ways in which datasets are curated. There were a couple of very interesting examples of use of data are used by researchers themselves, one from an academic who noted the value of data centre data because it didn’t require awkward conversations with potentially rivalrous labs; and another from a researcher in a small company building socio-economic models using data derived from ESDS’ wealth of datasets.

There were a few lessons for City Research Online, though, and I outline them briefly here:

  • Institutions (and by extension institutional repositories) remain important for the curation of data, given their local knowledge and relationships with researchers.
  • Institutional repositories are an excellent and cost effective method of storing data. What they are less good at is the managerial aspects of serving datasets to those whom might wish to access them. IRs can’t provide the rich metadata and sophisticated web front ends that dedicated data centres provide.
  • However, there is still a role for data curation by IRs, for simple and/ or small datasets. Where data are presented in tabular form and are easily catalogued, IRs can take on data that would not be interesting for data centres.
  • This is my own opinion, but I would extend the above role for IRs to include datasets which underlie published journal articles, particularly in those cases where we already archive the paper(s) in question- the ability of IRs to link together items is of benefit here. The challenge here is to advertise this as a viable and meaningful service for data creators.

So, some challenges for us to look at. In my experience, datasets are one of those repository things that can be “worried about later”, but I also think that datasets are of increasing importance to research. If we can identify ways in which City Research Online can usefully provide (perhaps modest) data curation services, then so much the better.

Filed under: Events, , , , , , ,

OpenURL revisited

Our Systems Librarian has been working away at integrating repository content into our OpenURL coverage database, and we’re at a stage where it looks to be working pretty well. This means that whenever someone finds an article the repository holds in a resource which supports OpenURL linkage (e.g. Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO etc.), they will be able to find their way to the full text item in City Research Online in just a couple of clicks.

For example, here’s a search in Google Scholar for a paper in City Research Online. Next to the citation information for the first hit (which is for the article itself), and depending on whether you have access to a link resolver, you should see a link. At City, it looks like this (click on the image to see an enlarged version):

Google Scholar screenshot

Hitting that link here at City runs a query against our Web Bridge resource coverage, which confirms that the repository holds the paper, and allows you to click through to the paper itself. I would be interested to know if this works for people at other institutions with OpenURL services- please leave a comment!

To maintain the repository’s coverage of repository resources, we’re going to do a monthly coverage upload of newly added material. There are also a few bugs to iron out, and we also need to decide if we should be trying to extend coverage to other item types (primarily book chapters and conference papers), since at the moment we’ve only uploaded journal article details.

This is a great development, and goes some way to properly integrating repository material into a variety of commonly used resource discovery tools. We expect to see a lot of hits from Web Bridge in Google Analytics, and it will be interesting to see exactly how many we receive via this channel. Finally, when playing around with Google Scholar to write this post, it looks like Scholar is (finally) indexing a good proportion of our material, which should also help get our material found!

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

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