Working with IRUS-UK

Evidence Base works with IRUS-UK, which is a Jisc resource for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) such as Universities, Colleges and other Institutions that offer higher qualifications, such as HNC, HND, and graduate and post graduate degrees.

Flag Iris in Victorian garden Quex House Birchington Kent England.jpg
By AcabashiOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

I said IRUS, not iris! Most of the UK Universities keep an Institutional Repository: an electronic archive of the work produced in the university, such as theses, research reports, data, presentations, images and articles written by staff and students. Many of these Institutional Repositories are freely accessible to anyone who wants to read the work.

As you can imagine, the Institutional Repository managers are keen to find out what work has been accessed. We are in age of Metrics where counting everything is important because use and usefulness has to be justified and value for money demonstrated. But then, as a taxpayer, you will certainly want your money to be spent wisely. IRUS – UK  can be used by Institutional Repository managers to find out what items have been downloaded from their repository. IRUS-UK sorts the downloads into lists: including type of item, title and author. Sometimes it is not so easy to identify a specific author, people use different variations of their names. For  example I could be M. Bamkin, M.R. Bamkin, Marianne Bamkin, Marianne Ruth Bamkin, or even decide to use my pre-marital surname – King, so that makes another four variations. I could be listed as eight different people, and therefore downloads of my work could indicate that it comes from eight individuals, not one. With a name like Bamkin, is it not so hard to work out that M. Bamkin is probably the same author as Marianne Bamkin, but just think about J. Smith. Is that John, Jane, James, Jamina, and if so, which one?

Now, I expect you are wondering why I am going on about different author names when I started talking about Institutional Repositories and IRUS-UK. Well, there is a link – ORCID identifiers.

I said ORCID, not orchid! ORCID is one of those names that started as an acronym but which everyone forgets, so is now a word for the electronic identifier that can be used on all authored work to show that you are one person, whatever you decide to call yourself on that day for that piece of work.

IRUS-UK is working hard to incorporate ORCIDs into the system and has written a blog post about what Institutional Repositories can do to expose ORCIDs. This means that IRUS-UK can have a searchable list of authors with their individual identifiers, so you can be sure that you have found the right J. Smith.

IRUS-UK new users survey feedback

IRUS logo

IRUS logo

Evidence Base is responsible for community engagement on the IRUS-UK project, a Jisc-funded project developing a statistics service for repositories in UK Further and Higher Education institutions. As part of the community engagement, we survey new joiners to the service to get her their first impressions, collect ideas and suggestions, and discover the areas they need more support with. Their feedback informs the technical development and guidance and support aspects of the project:

  • Technical development – we keep a technical wishlist based on user feedback, and review this at monthly team meetings to prioritise development work.
  • Guidance and support materials – we work with other members of the IRUS-UK team to provide relevant help and guidance for using IRUS. User feedback helps us focus our efforts on guidance for the areas that need it most.

As we are moving to the second year of IRUS-UK, we produced a summary of the key themes from the user survey so far. This included benefits and challenges, the way people use IRUS-UK and other repository statistics, their views on the open data approach, benchmarking, and feedback on specific features of IRUS-UK. The table below demonstrates some of the ways we have responded to feedback from these surveys:

IRUS-UK response to user feedback

IRUS-UK response to user feedback

Community input to IRUS-UK is something which is highly valued, and we will continue to collect feedback from the community on a regular basis. The summary report is now available from the News page of the IRUS website.