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

No comments:

Post a Comment