Sunday, February 27, 2011

Carrots & Sticks - soliciting engagement

The recent meeting in Leeds, where presentations were delivered to an invited audience of academics, highlighted the ever present issue of 'getting users onboard' or, to put it another way, ensuring 'buy-in' to a project or development. We all know that the involvement of the key stakeholders is essential to the success of an endeavour - if they are not an integral part, or the tool or service being delivered has no real 'application' in their eyes, the exercise is destined to fail.

A key part of the advocacy work being carried out in RePosit relates to this essential topic. With a system like Symplectic, for instance, the main 'touch point' or 'driver' is invariably different for each module or component. Whilst there may be an over-arching institutional or strategic driver (improved visibility of research etc.), the key deliverables of modules are often more granular or specific - supporting pillars of the overall deliverable. Therefore, our advocacy plans seek to identify the key deliverables ('killer connections', if you will) for academics, and to build on them, to ensure effective take up of the embedded repository tools.

For us at Exeter this is probably our third advocacy exercise around our research information management system. The initial rollout (about which I'm often asked to discuss or talk) was fortunate in that we had several key connections. We had central institutional support (via our DVC for research), the project tied in with an existing internal research process (which was predominantly paper based) and we added value by facilitating the re-use of the publications data for other applications. Furthermore, three academic schools worked with us to pilot the implementation before wider rollout - a key point.

The second implementation, around professional activities and esteem data, is currently in progress. One of the pilot schools has, again, been at the centre of the work, in part because of an immediate and direct application of the data that could gathered. Whilst this early engagement has been very productive, the point of connection is not one, unlike previously, that can be used to drive a wider rollout. After much work, and a connection arising from a chance conversation, we now believe that we've identified an institution wide driver upon which to build - one where we can, once again, appeal to the academic by facilitating the re-use of the gathered data and, ultimately, saving effort.

The implementation of the repository tool is our third. Through the RePosit work, our advocacy plan has identified the key drivers for an institution wide roll out. Once again part of the appeal is the simplification of an administrative process, a reduction in effort for the users, and a re-use of data. At Exeter we are now in the process of connecting again with one of our original pilot schools - driven in part by a specific requirement that they have, for which repository tools may have the answer.

From our perspective at Exeter, the willingness of several of the academic schools to work with us has been a significant factor in successful implementations. However, we do not underestimate how difficult this is to achieve. Identifying the 'holy grail' of the 'killer connection' remains key, and can take time.

In the advocacy materials for RePosit, the project now believes that it has identified the key deliverables to academics and is working on the language and style to ensure that connection. The presentations at Leeds helped us enormously in refining this, but more feedback is always welcome!

Posted by: Ian Tilsed

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Advocacy presentations

A key project task has been the creation of a bank of advocacy slides that can act as a generic resource for anyone to reuse in their institution. The project team worked together to draw up 2 pilot presentations, one for senior management/academics and the second for the researchers.
These pilots were then delivered to a group of academics and library staff from the University of Leeds and we asked for their feedback. This was a really valuable exercise to roadtest the pilot presentations.
Key messages from the feedback:
  • Must have evidence and examples to back up statements eg around citations
  • Presentations were too long and needed condensing
  • Strong advocacy points were "quick and easy", "one place one deposit" "raises profile" (both individually and as an institution).
  • Hot topics - copyright, versions, external/subject repositories, internationalization, how others access repository contents. It was felt that the "public" aspect of access would be more relevant if phrased as "practitioners". Strong view that researchers would want to know "what is in it for them" and this was echoed at the rsp winter school.

It was clear to the project team that whilst we had the basis of the presentations, more work needed to be done especially around the production of "supporting evidence". Also reinforced was the idea that the presentations would need to be more tailored to each institution depending on such factors as maturity of repository/CRIS and particular drivers. However a key aspect of the project outcome is that the slides need to be reusable by other HEIs.

So to achieve this generic but still tailored approach, project partners are going to take the pilot slides and tailor them to their institution. These presentations will then be pooled along with the supporting evidence. Others can then see what points are being made, how they have been made and examples of supporting evidence. There has been other JISC work done on OA answers and this will be drawn upon as well as adding institution specific case studies.

I have completed the 2 presentations for UoP and I will be asking for feedback from the PVC for Research. I also mentioned Pearl, UoP's research repository at the end of a session about our CRIS and this generated lots of questions and comments on a variety of topics and so I know that having the body of supporting evidence will be essential. I see finalising the presentations as an ongoing process as UoP examples and facts are only going to be available after Pearl is launched plus the hot topics here at UoP will also be raised so they will need to be fully addressed.

Nicola Cockarill, Senior Subject Librarian, University of Plymouth

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Developing training materials

At the start of the RePosit project (and probably even before then), one of the planned outputs was a set of generic training materials (user based) to help other repository managers should they head down the route of linking their CRIS to their repository.

There is a huge assumption implicit in this however, and one which we as a project group have found difficult to resolve and reconcile. In essence, regardless of the software you are using for either CRIS or repository, there is an assumption that the underlying process is at least similar if not the same. This is perhaps a little naive and has certainly been a bit of a stumbling block.

On a very basic level, when you present this model to your users, what you want to get across is:
All done through the same interface, no need to toggle between CRIS and repository, all done at the same time in one simple set of steps

In technical terms, this is broadly the case (login, find publication, browse to find file, upload file). However, when attempting to apply this to a simple (generic) how-to guide, it turns out it's not so simple afterall. Really obvious, really basic actions become really important: logging in, for example. How do you describe what actions constitute the logging in process? If everyone used the same CRIS software, this wouldn't be an issue (other than for the Competition Commission), log in would just be 'log in', simply because there would only be one way to do it. Similarly, getting to the point of browsing for the file to upload would be just 'find publication', all actions could be illustrated with a few snappy screenshots and you'd be done. When you're not using the same software though, it's hard to provide a simple set of instructions that doesn't become obsolete by its very vagueness.

There's also the problem of what the 'link' between your systems is called (if it has a name other than 'link thingy') and the fact that we're all using different repository software too.

In reality, whilst it would be nice to say we could produce glossy guides and materials that will just provide you with a complete package for your CRIS-Repository set up project, the honest truth is, some things you'll just have to do yourself or need to be software and local implementation specific and best dealt with by you or your vendors.

We love collaboration, but now and again, it can make something simple really, really complicated!

Sarah Molloy, Research Support Librarian (Repository and Publications System Manager) Queen Mary, University of London

RSP winter school

The RSP winter school took place 9-11th February in the Lake District and was my first Repository Support Project event. I wanted to use the opportunity, as a new repository manager, to immerse myself in the repository world, meet other repository colleagues and to inform my work both here at the University of Plymouth and for RePosit.

Some of the main points I took away to reflect on:
  • the variety of models eg commercial / in house, CRIS, no CRIS, standalone or connected repository. From one point of view, this means that there are less HEIs, then I thought, to share experience with but on the other hand, it also means that interest should be generated around the RePosit model and others can share and use the project partner's experiences.
  • the concept of a shared CRIS, feeding to multiple repositories is another more unusual feature of the UoP setup and again other HEIs may wish to share our experiences
  • discussions around the CRIS-repository model changing the concept of the IR (institutional repository) as an entity in itself and what you are promoting and whether that represents a challenge or an opportunity for repository managers. My personal view is that here at UoP, I will be promoting both the CRIS and the IR both in different ways to different stakeholder groups.
I liked the concept of the 3 components of deposit, use and advocacy:
  1. Deposit - seamless deposit via the CRIS.
  2. Access/preserve/report/feed - Senior management and research administrators - CRIS and IR
  3. Discover - via the CRIS via the university's staff profile pages and the IR via search engines
So both the CRIS and IR will be promoted, just in different ways depending on the stakeholder and their interests. I feel, the RePosit model doesn't relegate the IR as an entity, the advocacy programme will communicate the benefits/uses of both the CRIS and the IR but in a targeted way and both will have a strong identity.

  • Discussions around self deposit and mediation. UoP is launching with a self deposit model. Most of the HEIs appeared to using a mediated module. For RePosit, this means that the role of research administrators needs to be considered in the survey and advocacy materials
  • advocacy themes - a key message was that advocacy needs to be sustained and repeated.
The message about "the researchers want to know what they can get out of deposit" resonated with me, and this echoed what the pilot presentations at Leeds fedback. Personally I feel that maybe the message of pure Open Access may resonate with some committed individuals but I feel that at UoP, I will be starting by advocating OA but badging it more as Open Access Lite so focusing on what depositing means for individuals and access to collaborators, peers and practitioners. This is promoting OA but in a context that researchers respond to. In time, as the IR matures, the message will develop, especially with further developments in OA. I believe that OA Lite is the most effective way to reach researchers to launch deposit whilst starting discussions which look at the full range of the OA concept with senior managers.

The event was very informative and enjoyable and I have returned with lots of contacts, ideas and most importantly, it has confirmed and underpinned the directions that I will take in the advocacy here at Plymouth.

Nicola Cockarill, Senior Subject Librarian, University of Plymouth

Monday, February 14, 2011

QMUL communication strategy, and a quick update

Along with colleagues in the other partner institutions, I have been working on an advocacy (or in Queen Mary's case a communication) plan. The plan comes in two parts, a strategic document identifying how and who, and a timeline of activities. Part one is below. I'm still drafting part two...

We're making progress with the repository, behind the scenes things are moving well and we're adding new content all the time. Researchers here at QMUL seem fine with the concept of uploading their content via our Elements interface, once they know what to do.

QMRO still hasn't been made public, a source of endless frustration for me, due largely to small bugs and configurations that need to be resolved and which it's proving difficult to find the time to for our IT people to fix. Things are looking up though. We have recently retained the services of DSpace consultancy firm @mire to help with developments, and our own project partner, Richard Jones, is off to see QMULs IT people, so the bugs and configs should hopefully be sorted really soon.

I'm already planning the launch party, so watch this space!

And here is the plan.

SMolloy Queen Mary, University of London

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RePosit at the RSP Winter School

Three project partners are attending the Research Support Project's 2011 winter school event held at Armathwaite Hall, Bassenthwaite in the Lake District from 9th February to 11th February: Rachel Proudfoot from Leeds, Nicola Cockarill from Plymouth and Sarah Molloy from Queen Mary. Sadly Jill Evans from Exeter is ill and so cannot attend as planned. With backup from Nicola and Sarah, Rachel is presenting one of the four case studies during the workshop part of the event on Thursday afternoon, based on the experience at Leeds University around embedding their institutional repository, also drawing on what we've worked through the RePosit project so far. Another project aim is to use this opportunity of such a gathering of repository managers and interested parties to grow our project user community forum, and gain feedback on the materials we've produced so far.

Posted by: Lizzie Dipple

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

3rd project team meeting minutes

Our third RePosit project team meeting was held on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th January, running on the afternoon and following morning, at the University of Leeds. This is a key point in the project, just before the planned start of advocacy work, so this was our chance to test-run and tweak some of the advocacy materials, finalise the designs and decide on the survey. Of course, nothing happens quite as smoothly as in an ideal world, so we found we still have work to do and changes to make. We covered quite a bit of ground over the two half days and there is plenty to read about in the full minutes.

In brief:

During the project progress review, we looked at where we are with each of the project outputs, and considered the current issues and risks (discussed in more depth in a separate post). The user community output was discussed, and agreement made that we don't want to reinvent the wheel by trying to create a completely new community, just provide a forum for discussion that doesn't current exist for a subset of the existing repository community and approach research managers as well. When looking at the designs of advocacy poster and postcard for researchers, it quickly became clear that not just the design but the content itself wasn't getting the message across – and so we brainstormed new, punchy straplines and came up with our final choices: 'Spotlight on Your Research' and 'Don't Hide Your Assets'. This means a delay to finalising the materials, but they are getting there.

For the survey, we found that despite earlier fears to the contrary, all partner institutions are signed up with Bristol Online Surveys, so we can use that method. We fleshed out more details of the core questions and agreed there would be an institution-specific set as well. The final survey details are to be agreed in a Skype call at the start of February. The two dry-run advocacy presentations in front of an invited audience were a massive learning experience. We learnt as much about what we need to do differently as anything else: keep it even shorter, tailor the message even more, start with the strongest arguments, have lots of real-life evidence, recap at the end with something memorable, cover the downsides, use the internationalisation argument... It also became clear that our pack of advocacy presentation slides in the project outputs needs to be alongside real examples of presentations from the project to show the slides in use, plus with a crib sheet containing things like useful answers to common problem questions. This will take almost the full project lifetime to come to fruition, as these exemplars and the crib sheet will be added to by all project partners through their own advocacy periods.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple