ARMA Conference

I spent the first few days of this week in Glasgow attending the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) UK conference. I presented a poster on some of the findings from our Chemists and Economists survey, and had a delightful time speaking with many Research Administrators and Managers, all who seemed quite educated about Open Access and also more interested in the topic than I expected.

I attended a variety of sessions and learned quite a bit about research management and administration, gaining a new insight into this profession. Below are a few notes onwhat I saw as the highlights.

The opening Plenary had two speakers, Professor Anton Muscatelli, the Principal from the University of Glasgow, and Ehsan Masood, the Editor of Research Fortnight and Research Europe. Both speakers gave engaging talks, and both, of course, identified that we are in challenging times when it comes to research funding.  Professor Muscatelli identified a number of things that institutions could focus on in order to meet these challenges. These were: 1) recognise the value of research (knowledge transfer, identifying and quantifying impact, etc.), 2) disseminate research imaginatively (changing approaches to IP), and 3) manage research efficiently and effectively. Mr. Masood discussed some of the other ongoing issues: funding cuts, concerns about using metrics, and using research assessment to allocate funding (which he noted encourages game-play and concentration).

I attended a session on the REF Assessment Framework, presented by Chris Taylor, Deputy REF Manager. Although a lot of the details about the REF will not be released until later in the summer, this session did give me a good idea of what will be expected in the REF process. The conference delegates had many questions of course, and the thing that I found particularly interesting (which I hadn’t realised before) was that for the next REF, the “impact” will be measured for the unit as a whole and not linked to submitting staff (this, I think is the attempt to get away from Impact Factor measurements, which is good!).

I also attended an interesting session on choosing a Research Management system – with Jonathan Cant discussing Hull’s experience using AVEDAS- CONVERIS and Jill Golightly describing Newcastle’s experience with a built in-house system. Ellie James, from Keele, did a session describing her experiences as a Research Planning and Project Manager (responsible for Keele’s REF submission) setting up a repository. It was interesting to see repositories from a different perspective – and it reminded me how important it is that institutions have set goals and objectives when setting up repositories.

It was a really interesting conference – and most importantly I learned that researcher managers and administrators definitely know how to have a good time! 🙂

Innovation Takeaway – Lessons from the Information Environment

On Thursday of last week I was at the JISC Information Environment 2009-11 Programme Meeting at Conference Aston in Birmingham. Links to relevant resources for the day can be found here with extensive notes from the day (I think mostly written by Andy McGregor) here.

A review of the programme in the form of a list of questions was also created: “27 questions the work of the IE programme can answer.”

It was an interesting day filled with review of some of the INF11 projects, but it also included a few more general talks about things within this area of work. Interesting bits from my perspective:

David Millard’s talk on Managing Learning Resources was quite interesting – He spoke of managing teaching and learning resources, and I of course I couldn’t help but draw parallels with publication repositories. He described how at Southampton they looked to YouTube and Flickr for inspiration, and tried to see the learning resources repository more as hosting than archiving. This tactic (should) lead to greater use – though I don’t remember him reporting on actual usage statistics. I do think part of the reason take-up of institutional publication repositories has been so low is that academics do not see them as adding a lot of value – if they want to they keep a copy of their work they do – and publishing already provides them with an outlet to share. So how can we make depositing in a repository useful on an everyday level?  I do think many repositories that have had success have the ability to populate individual’s institutional homepages – something many academics may find useful. Integration with other systems within the institution also seems to support use. Still there is more that can be done in this area – we need to think from the academic’s perspective as opposed to the repository’s or the library’s.

Joss Winn started off an interesting session on “Benefiting from Local Innovation”. His notes are on his blog here. They give an idea of some of the cool things they are doing at Lincoln. I think most of us that attended the session were wishing we had a similar group working at our instution.

I also attended a session on “Benefiting from Open” which had four speakers covering Open Data, Open Education Resources, Open Access and Open Source. Key things that came up in discussion included the need for embedding within institutions, licensing, and the need for cultural change before this “openness” is widely adopted.

Do take a look at the notes and the JISC INF11 webpage if you are interested in learning more about this programme – and what the future could potentially hold for it.

Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (PIRUS 2)

Yesterday I attended a seminar – Counting Individual Article Usage – which reported on the results of the JISC funded PIRUS 2 Project.

It was a full day, with many interesting speakers. In the morning the talks focused on the project itself, while afternoon talks covered the bigger picture.

All About PIRUS 2

  • Hazel Woodward started things off by setting the stage and providing us with the aims and objectives of the PIRUS 2 project. These can be found here. Basically they were looking at the viability of creating a system that can bring together usage (download) data, at an article level, from publishers and repositories, in a standardised format.
  • Peter Shepherd from COUNTER then gave a review of the organisational, economic, and political issues involved with the project. Cost allocation hasn’t been explored fully, but currently publishers would be expected to carry the brunt of the costs with repositories also contributing. Politically, there are still a lot of issues that remain (one being whether publishers and repositories are actually willing to provide their own data, and willing to pay for such a service).
  • Paul Needham then took us through the technical side, and showed us that, yes, it is technically feasible to collect, consolidate, and standardise “download event” usage data from a number of different providers.
  • Ed Pentz from CrossRef then talked about the importance (and relevance to PIRUS) of DOIs, and also described ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID).
  • Paul Smith from ABCe spoke about their possible role as auditor for PIRUS.

The bigger picture

  • Mark Patterson from PLoS, then gave an interesting talk, describing some of the new alternative impact metrics (some that PLoS now provides). He cited people such as Jason Priem (see alt-metrics: a manifesto) and commented that changing the focus from Journal to article, would change the publication process.
  • Gregg Gordon from SSRN also spoke of alternative methods to measure usage, and also noted the importance of context when thinking about usage.
  • Daniel Beuke from OA Statistik then gave a review of their project (very similar to PIRUS) set in Germany. It would be interesting to see how these two teams could work together. These projects (along with SURE) have worked together under the Knowledge Exchange’s Open Access Usage Statistics work (see here for their work on International interoperability guidelines).
  • Ross MacIntyre then spoke about the Journal Usage Statistics Portal, another JISC supported project
  • Paul Needham then gave us a demonstration of the functioning PIRUS database and we closed the day with a panel discussion.

Unfortunately, I felt not enough emphasis was placed on demonstrating the usefulness of PIRUS 2 and the data that it could potentially generate. The political side of the discussion would also have been very interesting to delve into further.

Interesting things that kept popping up:

  • The importance of standardisation of author and research names (ORCID)
  • The need for metadata description standard (e.g. whether the paper is peer reviewed)
  • And the need for all publishers to use DOIs

Some of the questions I’m still thinking about:

  • Are publishers really willing to share this data?
  • What can a publisher really gain from this type of collation of usage data? And a repository?
  • To make it most useful everyone would need to contribute (and have access?) What would be the competitive advantage to having access to this data if everyone has access?
  • We now know it is technically feasible, but is it economically and politically feasible?
  • Are we ready to place value on these alternative metrics of usage (i.e. not Journal Impact Factor)? Who says we are ready? Are institutions ready? Will this usage data count as impact in the REF?
  • What about other places people put articles – personal web pages, institutional web pages, etc. – could this data be included?
  • What about including data from the downloads of briefing papers, working papers, and preprints? Doesn’t usage of these also signify impact?

Scientists’ views on Open Access

I was at the Vitae Researcher Development Conference in the very handsome Midland Manchester Hotel on September 6 (and then had the flu, hence the delay in this post!). I ran a special interest session on Open Access and had a discussion around the continuing perception of researchers that citations from OA sources are less “valuable” than citations from traditional publications …

Which links into the fact that one of the most interesting sessions I attended was a workshop on academic scientists’ perceptions of their careers. The picture was one of a profession marked by anxiety, pressure and tension – with early-career researchers showing particularly high levels of insecurity. No real surprise there, then. But I wonder if this is connected with the tendency to be sceptical about the use of open access repositories for disseminating research results. Do scientists feel that by using OA methods they’d be somehow relinquishing ownership of, and/or control over, their research? Since the research results are the key to career progression, status and even permanent employment, the last thing researchers want is to lose control over them. 

Does this make sense as an analysis?

Science Online London

Earlier this month I attended Science Online London at the British Library (3rd and 4th of September). The conference was hosted by Mendeley, Nature Network (Nature Publishing Group), and the British Library, an interesting collaboration. The theme was “How is the web changing science?” Attendees included academics (predominately from the sciences), science journalist, science bloggers, publishers (including OA publishers), service providers (e.g.CiteULike, Mendeley), and to a lesser extent library and information professionals. A colleague and I manned a stand and attended sessions. Twitter had a major presence, with a “Twitterfall” following the conference hash tag(s) (there was even some dispute over which was the official #soloconf or #solo10) projected on a screen in most sessions.

I talked to a lot of people and most conversations eventually led to a general discussion of open access. Most people had some knowledge of OA and generally knew and agreed with the main arguments, though many people were concerned with the cost of OA (in the form of OA journals), and seemed to be unaware of the alternative OA pathway of repositories and self-archiving. Other topics of discussion included: FP7 and OA, the semantic web, and etheses. Open data was also clearly a hot topic.

Martin Rees gave the opening keynote titled How the web is changing science: A reader and author’s perspective. He was an excellent speaker and focused mostly on the current status of academic publishing and OA. He said almost everything that a supporter of OA could want a speaker to say, and set an appropriate tone for the conference.

Another session of note was the “unconference” session about Open Access. The discussion often strayed to topics including the problems with peer-review and impact factor (see Cameron Neylons blogpost here), and the dissatisfaction with the current methods used for tenure and promotion. A need for policy change was identified, though people seemed fairly confident that the academic publishing system would break, and change within 5 years. It is good to know that a session on OA no longer means defining OA and describing its benefits, but instead easily moves onto underlying scholarly communication issues and the changes that need to take place perhaps before OA will become widespread.

Image credit: Ian Mulvany