Thursday, October 20, 2011

Final project report

The project blog may have gone a bit quiet in recent weeks, but that's not because of a lack of work going on - but mainly because we've been beavering away writing up the final report for the project, which is being delivered to JISC today. As soon as we've got their go-ahead, the report will be posted here too.

Signing out... for now...

Lizzie Dipple

Monday, September 26, 2011

Advocacy session at Exeter

I forgot to mention in my previous blog that we recently gave a presentation on our research repository, ERIC, to Associate Directors of Research at Exeter. We discovered there was quite a low level of awareness of the repository and what it’s for – for example, that depositing in the repository often allows a researcher to fulfil his/her obligation to the research funder. They were interested to hear about the integration with Symplectic and generally in favour of it (although some still queried the amount of time it would take to deposit). This led on to a discussion about Open Access and the feasibility of imposing a mandate for both research publications and primary data. There was a lot of support for a mandate but also recognition that a change in culture, especially in certain disciplines, would be necessary for it to work. The Open Access agenda will, again, be picked up and taken forward by the Open Up! project mentioned previously.

Jill Evans

University of Exeter

Update from Exeter

Work on integration is continuing at Exeter. We’ve made significant progress, for example Repository Tools 1.3 has now been installed but we’ve also hit a number of unexpected technical hitches that have held things up a little.

Testing has been going on for a few weeks, initially with the Engineering department, which has produced some very useful feedback. Crosswalks and collection mapping have also been tested extensively and we’re now working our way through the list of identified issues. We’re still not sure when we’ll be in a position to go live but we’re moving nearer to that point!

We’re looking at ways of getting publications into ERIC quickly as soon as Repository Tools goes live. For example, some funds have been put aside for a postgraduate to deposit the top four ‘favourites’ for all researchers participating in the REF in ERIC via Symplectic. We’re also aware of a number of publications collections around the University that are, with a little copyright checking, ready to be uploaded.

Advocacy planning is ongoing but we’ve had to scale back some of the activities planned for Open Access Week as it’s unlikely Repository Tools will be working by then. We’ll still be doing general awareness-raising, however, and will follow up with our own OA week when the integration’s been completed.

Some good news – we were successful in our recent bid to the JISC for funds to continue our pilot research data management project. The new project, called Open Up! for the moment, will start in October and will, amongst other activities, look at embedding use of repositories in the research lifecycle. We will have a full time advocacy officer for 12 months, picking up from and building on RePosit advocacy work. We’re aiming for much closer integration of our repositories and deposit procedures, particularly the linking of research publications with the underlying primary research data. So Symplectic will continue to be a focus of advocacy work but through Open Up! rather than RePosit, which will soon come to an end.

If you’d like further information about our integration work or Open Up! email me:

Jill Evans

University of Exeter

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Update from Plymouth University

The sharp eyed will notice the change in the University's name to Plymouth University.

The summer saw significant progress in the work on the integration between Symplectic Elements and Pearl, following a visit from Symplectic and ongoing work here. After testing, we are currently in the final stages of working through the last issues with the crosswalks and the file handling scenarios.

I also ran the RePosit survey using the Test systems and chose a select group of the 60 most frequent users of Symplectic Elements Publications to pilot the Repository Tools and test out the process. This proved an insightful exercise, the feedback showed that there was confusion around versions and copyright information. I now know how to amend the user documentation in response to this feedback. As Plymouth are using a self deposit model, I am also now going to roll out RT, by starting with one Faculty, in order to able to provide support to users and not be overwhelmed.

Open Access Week (beg 24th Oct) is a key target and I will be running advocacy events around OA so ePHDs and masters as well as Pearl. Due to some staff illness here, our plans for getting the integration live have had to be reevaluated and I can not set a date for the integration to go live. However I will be running advocacy activities in OA week and will adapt what I do when I know if the integration will be Live/Test.

Nicola Cockarill

Plymouth University

Monday, August 1, 2011

JOINING SYSTEMS: who owns, administers, and links the systems together?

When planning our discussion topic for the RSP event Working Smartly Together, we assumed that people participating in the discussion group would already have a link between a CRIS and repository system - or be well on with planning the link. We also hoped that people would be further down the line in joining systems and could share their experiences with those still thinking about a potential CRIS/repository link.

In fact, to our surprise, the majority of group members were still at an early stage: some considering a CRIS/repository link, some planning to expand an existing repository to offer CRIS type functions and others just interested in the topic but with no current link plans. Although the CRIS/Repository model is becoming more common, institutions that have followed the process through and achieved full integration between the two systems are still few and far between.

Quickly shifting gears from the initial breakout group plan, we discussed some of the potential benefits and challenges of the new model.

Findings are below (transcribed from flip charts and added commentary):

  • Potentially greater deposit: whether this is true or not depends on where you are starting from with your existing repository. Some are well embedded, but others have struggled to become part of everyday researcher workflows.
  • One stop shop: single place of deposit but also a way to draw together many strands of research information. A CRIS can be enhanced by an OA platform and the high standards of data curation which come with it; the repository can be complemented by the administrative data in the CRIS.
  • CRIS+repository may be a good model to support researcher compliance with funder OA and reporting requirements.
  • CRIS benefits from repository visibility – research becomes more discoverable.
  • Web page feeds may include publication lists with links to repository content - but also grants, expertise, activities, impact etc.
  • Repository usage stats could be fed back to the CRIS. As well as usage, stats could show non-OA-depositors what traffic they’re missing.
Risks / challenges
  • OA takes a back seat.
  • Academics don’t care about the depositing system – it’s just another admin system to them. Maybe this doesn’t matter. And it’s not an issue that’s limited to the CRIS+repository model. But perhaps academics are less likely to engage with OA aspects of a CRIS if they don’t see the relevance to their own subject discipline and research.
  • REF – a useful driver - but too much REF focus could lead to fewer OA deposits and more limited engagement with repository systems.
  • Why have two sets of metadata? Is the repository just a file store? Does it matter?
  • Data quality – building the publication database within a CRIS tends to involve importing data from a number of different sources. E.g. Thomson Web of Science, departmental databases, individual publication lists in EndNote, BiBTeX etc. Inevitably there is duplication and a range of data quality issues. Is it worth tidying the records up? Who does this? Is there any resource to do this? Is surfacing publication data on researcher web pages sufficient incentive for them to rectify any issues with their own data?
  • The model helps with research publication and research data curation – funder data is tied in with compliance requirements, depositors are advised on these & there is automatic deposit or notification to required external subject / data repositories.
  • Effective data exchange between systems & common data standards – probably CERIF.
  • Crosswalks between systems are easy to set up and readily tailorable.
  • Relevant support departments work together to create an effective system (Research Office, Library, IT, Staff Training). Effective governance mechanisms are put in place.
  • Uptake by some researchers exerts peer pressure on others, raising overall take up.
So long as you have an effective system to deposit, describe, disseminate and preserve you research information, it may not matter too much what the underlying architecture looks like. However, there are many practical issues to be tackled – particularly if you have pre-existing systems which must be linked or phased out – when introducing a CRIS+repository architecture.

Many thanks to the attendees as the comments provided the project with insights that will be written up in the final project report.

submitted by: Rachel Proudfoot and Jodie Double

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Repositories and CRIS / working smartly together - report from conference 19th July

I led the workshops on CRIS/repository advocacy. Do you advocate as separate systems or as one system? If the CRIS and Repository are integrated, do you need to brand the repository, is the focus on the CRIS or is a combination approach best?

The 2 groups all had different CRIS / repository models, some institutions had both and some were integrated/ some not. Other institutions had just a repository or just a CRIS so it was excellent to get a wide variety of views.

Key feedback :
  • the concept of the one stop shop so if staff are working in one system, be it the CRIS or repository, then advocacy was focused on the one system as the place to do all the necessary tasks.

  • that institutions can often put in artificial barriers between systems, often relating to the organizational unit that manages them and in terms of language and terminology

  • researchers don't care which system is doing what, they just need to know what they have to do

  • researchers want clarity with support so joint sessions, singe points of contact are key

  • repositories can provide real life statistics which can be used in advocacy sessions to promote the repository

  • the REF is a key driver for research strategy at many unis and is also having an effect on people's perception of the repository, on submission and Open Access. Some institutions reported that discussions were being had on what is good enough quality to be deposited into the repository and a suggestion that only REFable material should be submitted. Should the repository be for all research or just as a shop window for the highest rated research? Clearly this raises questions around the drivers for submission which may vary according to stakeholder group

  • In general, most of the institutions were giving their repository a brand and identity

I then weaved this feedback gained on the day into my presentation which provided a case study of how the questions were approached at Plymouth University.

My conclusion, which was backed up by the conference participants, is that researchers and senior university management want clarity and demonstrations of coherence and of support for individual and university goals.
The branding and advocacy strategy needs to be flexible and responsive to the audience and messages.
It is perhaps not a question of deciding a single focus on CRIS or the Repository or integration but a question of deciding when and how to apply a varying focus, depending on your audience/message.

Nicola Cockarill, Plymouth University

Monday, July 25, 2011

Break-out session on CRIS/repository community at RSP conference

One of the five topics that we covered through smaller group break-out discussion sessions at last week's RSP conference was all about how the CRIS and repository community might want to communicate. This nicely tied in with the end of Simon Kerridge's keynote speech about how linked systems mean that more communication between research office and repository managers is essential. The session's title was 'Community and Communications to Support the CRIS Model' and it was basically a facilitated discussion around whether this new CRIS->repository world requires new thinking and new means to share the knowledge and experience that's out there. Are existing discussion forums or mailing lists sufficient to the task?

I started by asking each of the two sets of people who had chosen to join this topic how they had found out about the RSP event itself, which lead on to an interesting look at which lists different types of people (RO = research office, RM = repository managers/library, IT = technology people) belonged to.

group 1:

group 2:

There was a bit of overlap but no obvious one existing place that all the groups who now are involved when CRIS systems (traditionally coming from the research office) are linked to institutional repositories (usually run by the library) or the link is under consideration - except perhaps for the JISC-repositories list, which is rather wide-ranging and already quite busy.

Then we had some discussions around open vs closed lists (the RePosit Google discussion group is now open to all new members) and the dangers of 'flaming'. We talked about how to avoid list fatigue - perhaps by using technical solutions to join existing lists via keywords into a super-list rather than creating anything new - and heard with interest that ARMA and UKcorr lists may be joining forces. Also, how to maintain the informality of a group - such as that which has helped make the RePosit Google group approachable for queries and discussions? Plus there were those who felt that existing communication was sufficient without needing anything else, using Twitter or Google searches to find individual sources of extra information - or just the willingness to pick up the phone and talk to someone in person.

All in all, some interesting discussion - but how to take this forward? In the absence of one obvious person who is so motivated to set up and run a CRIS/repository community, which is the body to run with the idea? In our discussions, the consensus seemed to be some combination of RSP/JISC and ARMA was our best bet.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple