Unlocking ground breaking research: Open Access Week 2017

 

open padlock

“Old padlock” by Futurilla is licensed under CC BY 2.0

So it is nearing the end of Open Access Week and here in the UK Institutional Repositories have been promoting the benefits of allowing the ordinary person to read scientific work. I follow some Jisc lists and I have been watching as various events unfurl, the most amazing one that has overshadowed everyone else is Stephen Hawkins’s PhD thesis. He gave permission for Cambridge University’s repository Apollo to make the digitised copy of his work open for anyone to read. Needless to say, the repository was overwhelmed. Apparently by Tuesday 410,000  had viewed the thesis. By Wednesday the Altmetric figures showed that the thesis was shared 1525 times, 964 times on Twitter and of those, 840 were members of the public.

On Tuesday another 30 Cambridge alumni gave permission for their theses to be digitised and uploaded as open access. The only drawback of all this is the expense of digitising the work, but the university are working with a charitable fund; Arcadia Fund to make this happen. The project is explained here.  Apparently there is also a project in collaboration with the British Library which will digitise another 1,400 theses that had been microfilmed.

Evidence Base works with IRUS-UK which has done its own little contribution to Open Access Week. IRUS-UK records the number of times a thesis has been downloaded and in advance of OA week the IRUS-UK tech team developed the function to report repository usage statistics daily. This means that repositories can calculate the impact of Open Access Week; has their usage increased, have more thesis or articles been downloaded? It will be interesting to find out what has happened and I may well report back on that.

However, my favourite remark from an open access staff member of another university was “We are not doing anything specifically for OA week – We OA all the time…” This is surely how it should be and one day there will be no OA week because it has become normality.

 

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IRUS-UK Community Survey 2017

IRUS logoAnother of Evidence Base’s regular tasks is to compile and send out the IRUS-UK user survey. IRUS-UK is a Jisc community driven resource for Institutional Repositories in the UK. When a repository becomes a member of IRUS-UK the IRUS team collects the usage data of items that have been deposited in that repository and processes the data into COUNTER compliant statistics. I have promised to write a blog about COUNTER and I apologise for not doing it yet, in the meantime follow this Link to find out more about the project and the code of practice. The benefit to repositories is that they then have validated usage data about the work that has been deposited which can be compared  with other standardised data.

The annual survey ensures that the IRUS team are developing IRUS-UK to suit the needs of the Institutional Repository community and a great deal of attention is paid to the feedback that is received. Sometimes it is not possible to implement a suggestion, sometimes it takes time to make a change, but each suggestion in considered thoughtfully and steps are taken to impblue surveyrove the website and the service.

This year we found out that IRUS-UK is mostly used for identifying trends and patterns of usage. It is used least for SCONUL reporting. Other uses for IRUS-UK include:

  • Awareness raising
  • Checking records
  • Tweeting about statistics
  • Advocacy with researchers

I particularly like the idea of tweeting about the statistics. It is good to boast on twitter that a certain document has been accessed. Especially as I have just found out through IRUS-UK that one of my articles has been downloaded 185 times.

The IRUS-UK community consider that the most useful reports are Repository Statistics and Item Reports. Most people thought that IRUS-UK provided value because of the reliable and accurate counter compliant statistics, because it helps benchmarking and reporting and it helps to compare data. Moreover, it saves a lot of staff time.town clock

Some of the best things about IRUS-UK are:

  • It is easy to use and access
  • It is good at archiving Statistics
  • The community support is great

There were some requests for some new features such as some quick guides to reports, some more case studies and some bite sized videos to demonstrate how to use the reports. Members also wanted more data visualisations -sometimes only a picture will tell the story – and there was a request that IRUS-UK becomes Mobile friendly.

These and other suggestions are now under consideration by the team . Keep looking at IRUS-UK to see how it develops. And Thank You to the institutional repository staff out there that took the time to complete the survey.

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.