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

City Research Online & IRUS-UK

Regular readers of this blog will know that we like our stats here at City Research Online. Therefore, when we were approached by representatives of the IRUS-UK project, we leapt at the chance to participate.

The JISC-funded project is intending to set up a national infrastructure to aggregate and disseminate institutional repository (IR) download statistics, thereby demonstrating the vital importance of IRs in the scholarly communications landscape (and by extension, the importance of Green Open Access). These statistics will also be COUNTER-compliant, meaning they can be reported on to SCONUL and other interested parties. The statistics gathered will be freely available and re-usable, in the spirit of the openly accessible IRs on which they report.

For us, the project is a chance to be involved in (and perhaps in a small way influence) the early stages of a project which is likely to be an important piece of infrastructure. It also will provide a way to verify the statistics we gather from our in-house tools (Eprints’ IR Stats package and the ubiquitous Google Analytics), and to benchmark ourselves against other institutions. The early indications are that the other four participating institutions (Bournemouth, Cranfield, Huddersfield and Salford) receive LOTS of downloads compared to us, but then they are all larger and more established than us.

I’ll blog about this project more in future, when we have more to report upon.

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OR2012: Microsoft Academic Search

I’ve failed fairly miserably to blog about Open Repositories 2012, but here at least is something I’ve taken from the conference to work on here at City. This was from the session on  Repositories and Microsoft Academic Search presented by Alex Wade from Microsoft, and you can see a video of this presentation here (it’s the first presentation).

Microsoft Academic Search is precisely what you might guess it to be- an academic search engine, in the vein of (e.g.) Google Scholar. Where it seems to offer added value over Google’s offering is its ability to build and enrich the data it holds, through wiki-like functionality, then to display this data in interesting ways. For example, here’s City academic Jason Dykes’ Citation Graph, showing the authors who have most often cited his work. The service also aggregates data at an institutional level- see for example City University London’s listing.

Where it gets interesting in repository terms is the ability to “seed” publication records with links to PDFs, for example those PDFs held in City Research Online, using the feature that allows you to edit the metadata of any record. I’ve experimented with doing this for the aforementioned Prof Dykes. The process is not quite wiki-like, in that there is a delay and verification before changes go live, but it seems to me that this is an easy way of pointing back to repository materials, and should also help with Google page rankings. There was also a commitment given, during Alex Wade’s presentation, that the Microsoft Academic Research team would be looking at automatically harvesting repository records to further enrich the service’s data, and to point back to the wealth of open access material held in repositories.

If anyone else has experience doing this, I’ve be very interested to hear about it!

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Symplectic Conference

Laura and I attended Symplectic’s Conference earlier in the week, which featured a number of interesting presentations and some intriguing feature announcements. The presentations included:

  • An introduction to the VIVO Project, an initiative to create a network of scientific researchers and enable discovery of those researchers’ publications. VIVO has a number of interesting features which we might look at here at City, not least the ability to create staff profiles.
  • An update on the DURA Project, which will synchronise users’ Mendeley accounts with Symplectic Elements, allowing easy addition of both metadata and full text to Elements, and hence to repository systems. This looks like an excellent feature development, though of course it will depend on City people using Mendeley. A quick search on Mendeley reveals about 20 City users of the system- not loads, but a start.
  • An introduction to Digital Science, a spin-off from the Nature Publishing Group, which is investing in many networked science start-up companies including Symplectic, and notably also Figshare and Altmetric, two companies we like!

The conference then heard from Symplectic CEO Daniel Hook, who outlined development priorities for Symplectic over the course of the next year. There were a lot of them, so I thought I would summarise some of the ones we’re particularly looking forward to here at City:

  • New data sources, including RePEc (actually available in the latest version of Elements, which we will be upgrading to soon), the British Library (book and chapter data?) and CrossRef (with the ability to pull through article-level metadata, hopefully)
  • User profiling and CV generation.
  • An upgraded user interface, featuring Symplectic’s snazzy new branding and the ability to customise look and feel. We’ll certainly want to make our Elements installation look more like the rest of City’s web presence.
  • Enhanced search, including via the API. This should assist us with outputting publications data to City’s web presence, particularly if and when a university-wide staff profiling system is put in place.
  • New reporting functionality. Reporting is already pretty good in my opinion, but any way to improve this is to be welcomed. Hopefully a report scheduler will be added.

The afternoon was taken up with a focus group session, which involved answering some (tricky) questions about the functionality of the REF module, which will hopefully help make that part of the system more user friendly.

All in all, a really good event, which looked at the bigger picture, but also promised some exciting developments for Elements over the course of the next year. It was also heartening to hear about Symplectic’s commitment to its software interacting with repository systems, something that is always high on our agenda here at City.

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Stat attack!

I’ve become a little bit obsessed with monitoring the statistics for City Research Online recently, particularly Google Analytics’ Real Time functionality, which allows you to see visitors as they look at the site in real time.

Obsession aside, we’ve reached a couple of milestones in the last week or so. First, we had our first 100-download day, which weirdly enough was last Saturday the 21st of April:

April 2012 download statistics

Second, we seem to now be attracting more than 100 individual visitors day on day for the first time, which I think is indicative of the increasing amounts of traffic we’re getting via search (inevitably largely Google). I think it probably also indicates that we’re getting indexed more often and more comprehensively by the big G.

It’s also further proof that material added to City Research Online really does get found, downloaded and (presumably) read, built upon and cited.

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City Research Online launch event for Open Access Week 2011

We’re holding a party to celebrate the launch of City Research Online. It’s happening as part of Open Access Week 2011 (party listing here), the global celebration of all things open access. We’ve been lucky enough to have City’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Curran, come to speak at the event. There will also, of course, be wine and nibbles!

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