Monday, November 14, 2011

Bringing the emphasis back to Open Access - RSP Autumn School event review

The RSP Autumn School took place at Miskin Manor, Cardiff from 7th-9th November 2011. As I’m relatively new in post, it was encouraging to meet 40 or so RSP School participants with similar motivations to discuss OA advocacy, CRISs, scholarly publishing, tips for encouraging full-text deposit, the REF and repository technical developments.

Miskin Manor
Here are my highlights:
  • Closed Access Week? David Prosser (RLUK) discussed e-journal package deals and greater institutional access to ejournals. How do we convince authors to support OA who, as readers, have seamless access huge ejournal packages? However, as average RLUK member library purchasing power reduced by 16% in 08-09, leaving a shortfall of £400,000 for some members, it’s likely that we’ll see a drop in ejournal subscriptions. We need to take this opportunity to shift the focus to OA. David also recommends taking a pragmatic approach to OA advocacy – key drivers for authors should focus on self-interest i.e. increasing citation counts and the dissemination of research, rather than relying on altruism. During the Q&A, one participant suggested introducing Closed Access Week to demonstrate the value of OA in institutions.
  • Bibliometrics and data. Niamh Brennan (Trinity College London) discussed bibliometrics and gathering data about your institution’s research outputs. The key is to familiarise yourself with bibliometrics tools, gather data about outputs and tell a story with that data. It’s important to paint a picture: nobody wants to see raw data – your audience want a story, ideally with pictures. Demonstrate the relationship between publication performance and institutional reputation. Various tools were recommended for visualising statistics and data such as Google Fusion and Needlebase.
  • Strategies for embedding OA in institutions. Robbie Ireland (University of Glasgow) reported on the promotion of OA at Glasgow. More records were added to Glasgow’s repository, Enlighten,  after the mini-REF call-out than following the OA mandate agreement in 2008 thus demonstrating the need to offer tangible reasons for academics to deposit in repositories. Endeavour, Glasgow’s repository for student work, is also an active approach towards integrating an awareness of OA to students early in their academic careers.
  • Bringing the emphasis back to Open Access. Bill Hubbard (Centre for Research Communications, Nottingham) asked if the focus on providing access to research has been lost as repository staff become more involved with additional initiatives such as RAE and REF reporting, OA to etheses, preservation, OERs, Open Data, OA grey literature and OA journal on-campus start-ups. Bill discussed the role a CRIS could play where repositories are seen as a vehicle for something other than providing access to research. One major benefit of implementing a CRIS is in offloading bibliographic work and making the repository full-text only in order to bring focus back to OA.
One of the main reasons I started working in repositories was for the IR USP: providing open access to research. Listening to the various arguments for OA at the RSP Autumn School demonstrated that there's much more to providing open access to research than simply repeating this ‘moral’ argument to myself again and again. OA has a strong message and we're appealing to strongly ideological people but we need to be pragmatic for OA to be integrated into the scholarly publishing workflow.

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