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.


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.

Altruism is not Enough

Another interesting evening event organised by RIN last week in the series Research Information in Transition looked at the topics of data handling and data sharing.

I was not surprised to see that many of the issues we’ve identified as having a bearing on the take-up of Green/Gold open access also raised their heads in connection with data.

Andrew Young from Liverpool John Moores University talked about the challenges of persuading researchers to put their data into an institutional repository even when it was a conditionof their grant. Policies, systems and guidance may all be in place but further incentives seem to be needed.

Carole Goble from Manchester University described designing systems to encourage the sharing of data between scientists working on the SysMO (Systems Biology of Microorganisms) project. Some were reluctant to share – among other reasons, becasue data sharing isn’t recognised by the academic reward system.

Kevin Ashley, Director of the Digital Curation Centre, addressed similar issues, stressing the need for interaction between policies and behaviours: policies on their own don’t have enough effect.

Our discussions with researchers about open access are leading us to reach the same conclusion. So the challenge for policy makers and funders is to enmesh the open sharing of research results with the attainment of academic prestige, promotion and kudos. Altruism is not enough.

Read more about managing and sharing data in the Scholarly Communications Action Handbook.

Research management: smoothing the way

photo: Elsie esq

Interested in developing a seamless research management system in your institution? We’re organising (with partners from SCONUL, ARMA and RLUK) a free one-day conference in London on January 27 2011 looking at how “joined-up” workflows can help researchers through the process from grant application to publication – and exploit new methods of scholarly communication such as open access.

Librarians and research managers will discuss their experiences of integrated systems and we’ll also hear from funders and from one university that has set up a central publication fund to help researchers comply with open access mandates.

For more details go to the CRC website. Book now while places are available!

RSP: Doing it Differently

Yesterday I helped out at the RSP event, “Doing it Differently”, held at the Sheffield Cathedral. It was a very interesting, full day. The series of talks showcased alternative approaches to repositories, open access and scholarly communications, with the audience mostly repository managers and others working directly with repositories.

So many different and exciting things happening in this area!

Pat Lockley, from the University of Nottingham gave a lively presentation on Xpert, which is a “distributed repository of e-learning resources”.  Stephanie Meece discussed the difficulties of managing repository deposits that are non-text based, and demonstrated the amazing work done at the University Arts London. Their repository, UAL Research Online, does a fantastic job of storing and showcasing non-text based research material. Jason Hoyt from Mendeley described some of their new developments as well as their involvement with the JISC funded Direct User Repository Access (DURA) project. Sally Handford, also from the University of Nottingham, described her involvement in iTunes U at Nottingham. These projects are definitely worth checking out. I could go on, but I won’t.

You can find the programme for the day, as well as slides and handouts to these talks and others here.

Image credit: Rob Ingram, RSP