City Open Access

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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, , , , ,

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, , , , ,

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, , , , , ,

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.

Filed under: IRUS, , , , , ,

RSP event: Scholarly Communications: New Developments in Open Access

Laura and I attended the Repositories Support Project (RSP) event Scholarly Communications: New Developments in Open Access last Friday. It was held in the spectacular surroundings of RIBA’s Portland Place building, which gave proceedings a suitable air of grandeur. The event had a first-class line-up of speakers, and was really excellent- the RSP should be congratulated for the event’s high quality and depth of content. A Storify archive of the event’s Tweets is worth taking a look at, if you’re into the whole micro-blogging thing. What follows are my thoughts about the sessions, and as ever they are partial and impressionistic, so apologies in advance for any errors or mistakes in emphasis.

Where next with Open Access – keynote presentation – Martin Hall, Chair of Open Access Implementation Group and Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford. Professor Hall was the biggest scoop for the event- not only is a he a VC, but is also a member of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, AKA the Finch Committee. He was therefore perfectly placed to deliver the keynote, which took a very high-level view of open access (OA) developments in light of the work of the Finch Committee and other developments such as the Elsevier boycott and the recent Whitehouse petition. His vision was one of a slow transition towards full Gold OA predicated on a market in Article Processing Charges (APCs), with a mixed economy (subscription journals, Gold OA journals and Green OA repositories) in the intervening period. He noted two particular possible victims of “collateral damage” in this change:

  • Learned Societies, who often rely on journal subscription charges to fund their activities and operate on very tight margins. The withdrawal of these subs could have a disastrous effect.
  • Independent researchers, who would not have access to institutional funds for APCs (though of course these people are currently in the opposite position- able to publish in journals, but having to rely on the c. 20% of openly accessible articles)

He offered no solutions to these snags, but at least they are being considered. His final remark was heartening for those of us plugging away with institutional repositories: legislative and academics’ attitudinal changes are likely to result in heightened interest in all forms of repositories during this change. I would add to this (as [namedrop alert] Bill Hubbard said to me during a break between sessions) that the emphasis on OA during the next REF cycle is likely to be another driver for interest in repositories.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) at 10 – recommendations for the next ten years of scholarly communications – Alma Swan, Director of European Advocacy, SPARC and Key Perspectives. This presentation was by another very prominent OA advocate, Alma Swan, who had recently participated in updating the BOAI, work which must have been extremely challenging given the stakeholders involved. A few particular points of interest arose from her presentation:

  • For green repositories, gratis OA is better than no OA at all; Libre OA is better than gratis OA. Ideally green OA content should be licensed as CC-BY for full libre re-use. I agree with this (though the distinction is not uncontroversial), the question for us becomes how to license then flag our repository content as Libre, i.e. CC-BY. There are also implications for text- and data-mining of green repository content if this shift is not implemented.
  • BOAI 2012 will make explicit recommendation of use of “Alternative metrics” to assess impact, for example the Altmetric service, or green repositories’  native download and access path statistics.
  • She noted one (in my view) telling statistic regarding access to PubMed Central. This was that 40% of people accessing this site can be defined as “citizens” as opposed to researchers or governmental people, which I think gives the lie to arguments that people do not need (or cannot make sense of) open scholarly research.

I’m now looking forward to the publication of the new version of the BOAI, which should provide yet more impetus toward OA.

Next up were some sessions about some projects and services, which in the interest of keeping this post to a vaguely manageable length I’ll just summarise here:

  • OAPEN-UK – collecting evidence on scholarly monograph publishing – Caren Milloy, Head of Projects JISC Collections. An introduction to the OAPEN-UK project, which is doing some interesting work collating attitudes towards the tricky prospect of archiving books and book chapters.
  • Building campus-based OA journal capacity: SAS Open Journals – Peter Webster, School of Advanced Study. A look at the School of Advanced Studies’  impressive integration of the Open Journals System with an Eprints repository, SAS Space, to provide in-house journal publishing services- see for example Amicus Curiae, a fully open access in-house journal. This is work we need to start looking at here at City.
  • Encouraging data publication – the JISC Managing Research Data Programme – Simon Hodson, JISC Programme Manager – Managing Research Data. An overview of this JISC programme, which is looking into data curation. Data curation is at a tangent to OA as understood as access to research articles, but is just as important. Again, it’s an area we need to start looking at here at City.
  • Figshare and open science – Mark Hahnel, Product Manager, Figshare.An overview of the excellent Figshare service, essentially a Mendeley for research data. As someone said on Twitter, one of the challenges posed by Figshare for repositories is how nice it looks, about a million times better than most repository interfaces.
  • Frontiers – Online community-based peer review, publishing and research networking. – Graeme Moffat, Frontiers. Frontiers is a new open access journals platform. There are some fascinating innovations with the platform, most notably the (nearly) open peer review process, which utilises a web forum to exchange feedback about submitted articles.

Using social media to disseminate research outputs – Melissa Terras, Reader in Electronic Communications in the Department of Information studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL. The final presentation of the day came from Melissa Terras, who talked about her experiences of Tweeting and blogging about research papers placed in her institution’s repository, UCL Discovery. You can read a full account of her experiments here (and it’s well worth reading in full), but what’s worth noting for the purposes of this post were the hundreds of extra downloads her papers received, merely by virtue of using social media to tell people about them. She also used her slot to make a plea for repository managers to understand academics’ attitudes with regard to self-archiving. Academics are essentially forward-looking, and when a paper is written it is generally considered to be over and done with. This makes retrospective appeals for academics to trawl their hard drives pretty onerous. I think the implication is that it’s incumbent on repository managers to make deposit as simple as possible, and to not get too hung up on back-runs of papers.

All in all an excellent event. RSP will have to do well to top this one, I’m looking forward to seeing if they can do it!

Filed under: Events, , , , , ,

City Research Online & electronic theses

We’ve been slowly working towards making City’s PhD theses available in City Research Online, and we’re now at the stage where we’re going to be adding a lot more full text versions of these important pieces of research. Working out these issues, and talking to PhD students about the uses made of their work, is also an opportunity to persuade early-career researchers of the benefits of open access, hopefully hooking them for the remainder of their career!

We already have some theses available (four at the time of writing) in the open access repository, thanks to PhD students getting in touch with us and passing on electronic versions. There are a few problems specifically associated with managing theses: you have to be particularly careful about how they are handled, since they represent three of more years of research, and are often intended to be published further down the line; potentially tricky issues with copyright (author permissions, 3rd party copyright) and sensitive data (commercial or personal); and the various places e-theses can both be sourced from and also end up- for example, there are already over 200 City theses held by the BL’s EThOS service, not to mention DART Europe.

I think we’ve worked through these issues to our satisfaction (or at least I’ve produced some papers on them!), and we’re now at a stage where we can recruit more content. There are two sources of e-theses we’re going to examine first. They are:

  1. A nice back-run of c. 50 we have here in the Library (on CD-ROMs!), with permissions forms all signed off. We’re going to add these, then email students to tell them we have done so.
  2. All examined theses going forward. We need to a bit more liaison to make sure that the Schools and Departments are clear with what we will do with newly received e-theses (this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone!), and it will mean that we receive c. 250 newly examined theses per year.

Once we’re comfortable with the work-flows for managing these two sets of theses (and have exhausted the former set), we can have a look at other sources, including theses currently in EThOS but not held locally. I’m also in the process of setting up EThOS automatically harvesting our content, meaning that theses deposited in City Research Online will automatically be added to EThOS- a two for one offer!

This work has taken a while to come to fruition, but it’s really pleasing to think that over time we’ll become a comprehensive source of Doctoral research produced here at City.

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

SOPA, PIPA, RWA and open access

Questions open access and the broader agenda of internet freedom have been very much in the headlines over the last couple of weeks, which has made for an interesting start to 2012, and makes me guardedly optimistic that the arguments for openness in all its forms will continue to be made and listened to this year.

The US’ woefully misguided Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would effectively prevent linking on the web without absolute guarantees of lack of copyright infringement on the part of the site linked to (amongst other ludicrous clauses), and reads like it was written entirely by the US’ big media conglomerates, has now been killed– but the similar in intent Protect IP Act (PIPA) shambles on, zombie-like. Meanwhile, a luminary of free thinking and positive business practices defends SOPA and attacks Google for alleged piracy whilst failing to acknowledge the vested interests behind such attacks.

More ominously for the open access movement, the US’ Research Works Act (RWA) threatens to prevent funders such as the National Institute for Health making taxpayer funded research openly available. The bill, brought by two congresspeople who have received donations from Elsevier and supported by the ever-friendly and reasonable American Association of Publishers, would shore up scholarly publishers as monopoly providers of published research, destroying the advance of open access and seriously and permanently retarding scientific research. All this, to allow publishers to continue to make profits of 20% or more on their revenue.

However, there has been an outcry about this, and hearteningly it’s not just the usual suspects. A variety of influential bloggers and commentators from the research community have written in opposition to the Act, and the Guardian have today published an excellent article on why the RWA and publishers’ attempts to prevent open access should be opposed. UKCORR, the professional body for UK repository people such as myself, have also taken a position.

Though the threat of the RWA is a real one, I think the continued growth in understanding that publicly funded research should be made publicly available can only be positive. Elsevier and co. may win a short term reprieve for their position as monopolistic exploiters of the fruits of publicly funded research, but over time the overwhelmingly convincing arguments for open access will win out- I hope.

Filed under: Open Access, , , , , ,

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