Successful Event: Research Management – Smoothing the Way

It proved to be a successful event this past Thursday as Research Managers and Senior Library and Information Services Managers came together for a full day of presentations and discussion. The conference, organised by the CRC (specifically us working on the JISC funded RCS project), ARMA, RLUK and SCONUL focused on the growing need for integration between research support and information services.

The morning started off with introductions from Bill Hubbard (CRC), David Prosser (RLUK) and Ian Carter (ARMA), who set the appropriate tone for the day.

Susan Ashworth (University of Glasgow), Jill Golightly (Newcastle University), and Jackie Proven (University of St Andrews) then each discussed the current research managment situations at their universities.  From all three it seemed clear that these systems need to:

  • Provide only one place for researchers to input (and include integration with other systems),
  • Have the ability to mass import and check data,
  • Include ongoing advocacy to research staff,
  • Meet the needs of the different players / stakeholders (have it work for REF, and OA, etc.)

Stephen Pinfield (University of Nottingham) then gave us an introduction to the work being done at Nottingham with their OA Publishing Fund, put in place to meet the need set by Funders’ mandates. Stephen went on to describe the cost of OA publishing (Gold road) at the University of Nottingham, pointing to the Houghton Report – and commenting that it is probably the most important report for those working in this area. Stephen also described how OA publishing is generally cheaper for the University of Nottingham using this modelling.

Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) and Gerry Lawson (NERC) each gave us a funders’ perspective. They described some of things funders need, one thing in particular that was discussed was the need for proper grant acknowledgement and attribution, with grant number, in a standard form.

We finished off the day with small groups and then a panel discussion. There were some interesting ideas that arose, and will hopefully be taken forward:

  • Using the REF as a potential driver for OA content
  • Extending the grant period so that funds can be used for OA publishing
  • Standardisation of terms within these systems – including standardisation of grant acknowledgement
  • Further sharing of good practice

Many key players were present and it was good to get them all in the same room and let them hear each other’s thoughts and concerns.

The full programme and some of the slides are available here.

We may try and repeat the event or do something similar in the future so please do let us know if you are interested.


Heading Down the Gold Road

More and more publishers are now offering a hybrid Open Access option for many of their journals, yet still it is reported that the actual uptake and use of these options is quite low (1-2% industry-wide). Of course publishers themselves must see this as a viable route to follow (see a previous post here) or else they wouldn’t even be going there. Many academics also see gold OA as the only route forward (perhaps because of a lack of knowledge of alternatives?), yet we also have those fighting for the green route (see Stevan Harnad’s blog). From personal conversation I do know that (some) academics are concerned about the costs that are arising from trying to publish OA. Perhaps the cost will help them explore other options… nonetheless, the conversation about hybrid OA and paying to publish continues.

Four speakers, invited by the ALCTS Scholarly Communications Interest Group, recently presented on the topic of hybrid journals at the 2011 ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. Slides can be viewed here. Looks like some good talks, and I am sure they led to an interesting discussion – with contributions from a scientist /faculty member, University Librarian (and Dean of Library Services), and two publishers. Of particular interest to us, were the slides presented by Philip Bourne, which demonstrate clearly what he, as one scholar wants to see in the future of scholarly communication.

Some of the results from the recently presented SOAP research project also focus on the cost of publishing (including both full OA and hybrid journals).

They asked academics:

  • how much they paid to publish their last OA article. (slide 10)
  • how the fee was covered (slide 14)
  • how easy or difficult it was to receive funds for OA publishing (slide 17)
  • how much they would pay to publish OA (slide 22)

Interesting results to take a look at.

How much are you willing to pay? We know publishers are thinking about the sustainability of this “new” option (slide 8), but are you?

Image credit: Nick Leonard

D-Lib Data Issue and

If you are trying to keep up on issues and initiatives related to Open Data you might want to check out the following:

1.   D-Lib Magazine’s January/February 2011 issue. It’s all about data. Topics include the Dataverse Network, the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE), Earth System Science Data (ESSD), research data quality, the trustworthiness of data centres, the relationship between publications and data, and metadata for data set citation.

2.   A recent Open Knowledge Foundation blog post. Written by Tony Hirst, this post describes the new site From the site :

GetTheData is a Q&A site where you can ask your data related questions, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • where to find data relating to a particular issue;
  • how to query Linked Data sources to get just the data set you require;
  • what tools to use to explore a data set in a visual way;
  • how to cleanse data or get it into a format you can work with using third party visualisation or analysis tools.

Worth checking out.

Launch of a significant journal

Nature Publishing group have just announced the launch of “Scientific Reports”, as a multi-disciplinary open access high-level journal.

From their website:

“Online and open access, Scientific Reports is a brand new primary research publication from the publishers of Nature, covering all areas of the natural sciences — biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences.

Scientific Reports exists to facilitate the rapid peer review and publication of research that is of interest to specialists within any given field in the natural sciences, without barriers to access.”

This is an open access journal, charging an article-processing fee of £890/ $1,350:  articles will be freely available to everyone under a CC licence, deposited in PMC and authors retain copyright.

This follows in the footsteps of PLoS One and represents a significant move for NPG and, very likely, for journals in general.   This model takes advantage of the fact that “issues” of an OA and electronic journal are not limited in size and can vary up and down:  and can  accomodate all of the articles that meet their peer-review criteria, as they are assessed. With this freedom, the journal is able to work across disciplines, which could represent a challenge to traditional, slower, non-OA journals.  Backed by the Nature brand, this is a powerful mover for change.

Interestingly, although it is OA, the change and challenge that this represents for other journals is really only partially due to its OA nature.  It would be possible, although a little more complex, to have a similar model of a “mega-journal” based on subscriptions.  As I and the CRC team here have been saying for some time, OA is not the biggest challenge to publishers clinging to traditional models for their journals who see development as simply producing electronic analogues of what has gone before. Other capabilities and possibilities bought about by online dissemination and storage; multimedia capacities; meta-analyses; data-mining; and online, open peer-review are far more of a threat to closed, regular issue serials. Open access happens to be part of this suite of possibilities that have been bought by developments from outside publishing – and it fits very nicely.

We now have PLoS One, that led the way, confounding doubters:  Nature’s Scientific Reports has followed and is on course for an Impact Factor by 2013, and will be gathering adherants from now on, so by some metrics the clock is ticking.  What will the other publishers do to respond?


Open access and innovation in scholarly communication

We have published our third report on trends and issues in scholarly communication. Its theme is the scope of current open access practice and the opportunities it offers for innovation in scholarly communication methods.

Some people think that the battle for open access has been won. The number of repositories is growing; funders and (increasingly) HE institutions are mandating researchers to make their work openly available; open access journals are becoming mainstream (a recent blogpost by Heather Morrison asks if PLoS ONE has become the world’s largest journal). Yet it is also true to say that there is still resistance to open access in most areas of the academic community. Not all mandates are complied with; not all researchers believe that publishing in online journals carries as much prestige as publishing by traditional methods.

What might influence authors to change their minds about open access? Perhaps showing them that open access is not just about repositories or OA versions of traditional journals. In all sorts of ways OA can add value to research output. It adds value in an institutional context when the repository becomes part of an integrated system of research  management. It addds value to arts and humanities research when it allows non-text research outputs such as music, images and video to be made available alongside text. It adds value to scientific practice when it contributes to initiatives in open science and open data.

Meanwhile tools such as Mendeley that combine biblographic management with social networking appear to be increasingly attractive to researchers. Maybe OA as it has evolved in recent years, modelled on the traditional publication system, is already outdated, overtaken by Web 2.0 services more responsive to the needs of the academic community. Our report suggests, however, that there are questions to be asked about the sustainability and independence of these services in the light of their need to respond to commercial pressures.

If you are interested in any of the issues raised here, please read the full report. Your comments will be welcome.