Friday, December 24, 2010

First advocacy plans made public

One of the key milestones along the path of the RePosit project for the individual partner HEIs is the creation of an advocacy plan for each institution (or review and updating of an existing plan within the RePosit framework). These plans describe the overall strategy for communications around awareness of, engagement with and deposit into the institutional open-access repositories (including specifically via the link from the CRIS/RMS), and these are the plans that will be followed for the second half of the project's life to hopefully produce the results we are anticipating - increased deposits and increased users. In some cases, the plans include the detailed timetable of activities that will be undertaken, in other cases these timetables are stored in a separate document - mainly because such detailed activities lists are by their nature more fluid and need to be revisited and updated regularly, in comparison with the overall advocacy strategy documents.

At the moment, those advocacy plans available to view are for the University of Plymouth, Keele University and the University of Leeds. Of course, these plans will potentially be revised as the project progresses and the experience at each institution grows.

All the plans have been drawn up individually but with the sharing of ideas and help across the whole project team. The plans also use the lessons learned from our literature review of previous JISC projects in and around this area.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Notes from third project team Skype call on 22nd Dec 2010

This week saw our third project Skype conference call, despite problems caused by snow for some people on Monday.

Skype call meeting minutes 22nd Dec 2010

We had fewer attendees than usual, but we still managed to cover good ground. There were a few specific issues to discuss - such as the statistics for system users, which are proving tricky to calculate or extract, and the use of certain advocacy materials as related to the format. We looked at when the various advocacy plans are expected to be approved for public viewing outside the project team - with at least two due up on the blog this week. And we also had a useful discussion of how preparations are going for our next project team meeting - to be held in Leeds in January. This is not just an ordinary team meeting, since we will have a conference call link-up with the QMUL designers for part of it, plus - very importantly - there will be an audience of invitees for the first two trial-run advocacy presentations. With this in mind, we hope to have one more team Skype conversation prior to meeting up in Leeds.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Demonstration of Symplectic Elements and DSpace, 17th December 2010

After the meeting last week with Queen Mary Creative Services, I arranged to provide a demonstration of QMRO repository and PubLists, the local installations of the DSpace and Symplectic Elements systems, to the designers who will be working on our advocacy materials. It was hoped that this would give QMCS a better idea of how the systems worked, how they are connected, and why this is important.

I provided a comparison demonstration, showing how content would normally be entered into DSpace; how each field has to be populated manually, the file upload and permission granting process. I then showed them how items are deposited using the RePosit model. By doing this, it was easy to demonstrate how much quicker and simpler deposit is when the metadata is provided through a linked system, requiring only the file upload and permissions to be granted for deposit to be completed.

The demonstration helped to put the project and the systems into context for the designer, Dan Boom, and hopefully gave him some ideas of how to illustrate this in our materials.

Dan was also able to give me a short update on the progress made so far, that they have begun work to produce some project branding for us, and that they hope to have some early examples of these and other materials ready for our meeting in January 2011.

Sarah Molloy
Queen Mary, University of London

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snowed in - so Skype call postponed

With several parts of the country snowed in today and people unable to access their computers, unfortunately we've had to postpone our third Skype conference call from this afternoon. Hopefully there will be a slight thaw this week, so we'll manage to catch up on Wednesday instead. With the Leeds project team meeting in mid January and the Christmas break in between, any further preparations for the two trial-run advocacy presentations due to take place at that project meeting need to be sorted out now.

Lizzie Dipple

Friday, December 17, 2010

Collaborative project team

Being part of this JISC project team has turned out to be very enjoyable and a fantastic learning experience for us all. This is due to the diverse roles of the project team in the different Universities and the professional expertise of Symplectic.

Roles range across the Library, the Central Research Office through to Academic Systems. There is also a range of roles within the library giving the perspectives of the Library Liaison staff through to Electronic Resource staff. Having all these different perspectives helps us all to understand how our own University works and was very helpful when putting together the advocacy plans (where we shared good practice).

It has also proven informative to share the experiences of the partner Universities at different stages of their repository implementation. For example those of us who have never had a repository before can learn from both the successes and mistakes of others further down the line. One key message that the project team have learned is that you can't just raise awareness of the repository once, as a one-off exercise, there has to be continuous promotion. Also the more established repositories can also learn new tricks: for example, colleagues have been very interested how Keele has linked its publications database (and repository) to individual staff webpages. This has encouraged academic colleagues to keep their entries up to date (and deposit), as it instantaneously updates their web page, all from one system!

I'm sure there will be more shared knowledge and experiences next year as we move into the advocacy stage.

Ellie James
Keele University

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meeting with QM Creative Services, 13th December 2010

So, after all our hard work coming up with contextual and content ideas for our advocacy materials, these were dutifully sent off to Queen Mary Creative Services (thanks Lizzie). In a follow up to this, QMCS asked to meet with us to get a clearer idea of what we wanted.

Lizzie and I have therefore spent a very fruitful meeting with members of the design team this afternoon, from which the following has been agreed:
  1. The first priority is to design a brand and theme that will be carried across all materials.
  2. QMCS will then work on the slide library template ready for the next project meeting on 13th/14th January 2011 (when the first trial-run presentations are to take place).
  3. QMCS will also begin developing some of the early design ideas for other materials once the theme and brand have been agreed.

I am providing a demo to Creative Services on Thursday morning (16th December) to give them a better idea about the repository and research publications management systems and how they work, what they are for, etc. This should hopefully help to clarify what we as a project partnership are doing and also tie in with the outlines that we have sent them.

They've also given us things to think about in terms of running our advocacy/communication campaigns. For example, our web presence, which could be providing somewhere quick and easily accessible to get up to date information, not just about the JISC project but about the messages that we are trying to communicate in our advocacy plans. They've also suggested some other mechanisms by which we can give our project a higher profile (for example, year planners on walls are a cheap way to put up information - and have it there all year!) in order to drive users to the project and get the message out more widely.

Whilst we will not be able to do all these things due to time and money constraints, they are useful things to think about for the future, perhaps once we have gone our separate ways. So lots to mull over, and definitely lots of things for me to add to my own shopping list (if I can but find the money). The Head of Creative Services did ask me if I was planning to move in...

Sarah Molloy (QMUL)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Now that we have a set of user stories, as discussed in a previous post, we can look at turning these outline stories into concrete instances which can be presented to users. In order to achieve this, we are employing a technique used in graphic and website design called "wireframing". In this process we decide what materials we would like to produce, and then we layout content in the space with little to no emphasis on how the final product will look. Instead we are simply looking at what information we wish to present, and roughly where on the page we want that content to appear.

We chose two of our user groups to be the focus of advocacy materials: academic authors and senior managers (it is assumed that librarians are mostly already sold on this technology, and don't need the same level of persuasion). For each of these groups we chose a couple of advocacy mediums, thus:

  • Academic authors:

    • Postcards; to be handed out at events, available for collection at library front desks, attached to pay cheques, etc.

    • DL (0.3 A4 size) How-To leaflet; to be handed out at events, available for collection at library front desks, etc. Ideal for pinning next to your computer monitor.

    • Poster; to be pinned up all over campus

  • Senior managers:

    • Postcards; to be handed out at events, available for collection at library front desks, etc.

    • A4 product sheet; to be handed out at events, or delivered directly to senior manager's offices

Below is a screenshot of one of the wireframes in progress, showing the DL size leaflet which contains the How-To for the academic author on depositing their full-text into the digital repository via their CRIS.

Each of these wireframes can then be taken by the project partners and instantiated in their institutional colours, designs, fonts and so forth. This process ensures that the generic project outputs are appropriate for all institutions undertaking a CRIS to Repository link, irrespective of their software solution, and also does not enforce any kind of branding upon the adopting institution.

- Richard Jones, Symplectic Ltd

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Notes from second project team Skype call on 25th Nov 2010

In our inaugural Skype project team RePosit conference call we agreed that we wanted to have a full-on discussion of the various advocacy plans, and so we organised a second Skype call for Thursday 25th November. It was another successful call which ended up lasting about 1¾ hours.

Skype call meeting minutes 25th Nov 2010

Basically we looked at each draft advocacy plan in detail, and found there were a number of recurrent themes. The plans naturally need to be made up of two halves: the overall strategy and then the detail of who/when/what you want to do. Working out that detail gives you a timeline to work against and makes you aware of lead times, for instance for high-level meeting agendas or inclusion in existing training materials. Some partner HEI plans already contained both sections, in other plans we need to flesh out one or the other part more. Another key element of the plans is the background context. Since the plans will act as exemplars of advocacy planning in the pack of project outputs, it is important that any other HEI looking them up can immediately see which situations are most relevant to them.

Some key points that came up for discussion included that planned success criteria must be measurable (SMART). Having subject librarians on board can help not only with dissemination of the message to the academics, but also to get feedback on how awareness is hopefully growing. In fact, having a project team made up of representatives from key stakeholders (librarians, research office, academics and IT) is the best approach. A long-standing repository system is not the same thing as an embedded one, so you have to keep going with continual advocacy. When content is made public, such as on personal web pages, people are much keener to make sure that data is correct and up to date.

Overall, though, something that we all found was that working together like this - sharing different perspectives, different experiences and so on across the varied members of the RePosit project team - is an absolutely fantastic benefit of being involved in the project.

We will have one more conference call before Christmas to work out some of the details for our next project meeting, which takes place in Leeds in mid January.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple