Thursday, 27 January 2011

Library Day in the Life - Thursday: CRC Research Management event report

Today I attended a day long CRC event at RIBA, near Regent's Park in London. It's a great venue, with loads of architectural plans and diagrams on the walls.

The event was about how institutions can manage their research outputs, and focusses on the systems and departments needed to do this. Libraries and research divisions are therefore well represented, and repositories are at the heart of the case studies that we hear about. Here's the programme:

The day was introduced by Bill Hubbard, Head of the CRC at Nottingham. He set the scene, remarking that many of the problems surrounding the management of research outputs, certainly from the repository point of view, would be eased by getting involved earlier in the research process, before the grant runs out and the articles are published.

Also represented here were RLUK, with David Prosser reflecting that academic institutions are increasingly interested in curating existing institutional assets, like theses and research outputs of all kinds, including data. The open question, he posited, is the role of the library in managing these.

Ian Carter, chair of ARMA, ended the round of introductions by suggesting that to understand the research processes of an institution, you also need to understand teaching. This context is essential to understand the time pressures and balancing of priorities that goes on in academics' lives.

The morning programme featured three case studies, from Glasgow, Newcastle and St Andrews. Glasgow was the most interesting for me, as they have an extremely successful EPrints repository, Enlighten, and use it in a similar way to LSE. Susan Ashworth described their service, and in comparison they have a much more complete database than us, although a similar amount of full-text. Excitingly for me, they are about to switch-on integration with their link resolver, something that I've been really keen for us to do. Glasgow should expect an email from us shortly!

There is much to admire in their distributed approach to managing Enlighten, and how well integrated it is into their wider university systems, such as the HR database and staff webpages.

Jill Golightly, from the Research Office at Newcastle University, outlined a different approach that separated the Library-run repository, which was left to focus on full text, and a research management system that tied into systems from across the university.

University of St Andrews have developed a CRIS, called Pure, which utilises staff from both the library and research teams. Again, they had a separate full text repository that ties in with the CRIS. They saw the repository as an essential part of the system, and strongly felt that the Library was the best place for this to be administered.

Stephen Pinfield, CIO at University of Nottingham, talked about the practice of authors or institutions paying publishers to make an article available vie Open Access. This model is supported by funder mandates such as that of the Wellcome, who require all authors to make their work OA. Nottingham themselves have a policy of making research OA either by 1) deposit on the web, such as at UKPubMed, 2) in the Nottingham institutional repository or 3) by paying the publisher to make it OA on their platform. Pinfield described how most major publishers now have a facility for this, and that grant applications should ideally include provision for the cost of those fees. However, he referenced research that shows 50% of publications occur after the funded period is over, and the funds will have gone, In this case, the cost can be considered an indirect cost of the research. Some universities now have central funds to pay for OA fees. Nottingham's recent survey showed 14% of UK universities do, and another 14% are likely to set one up. However, articles made OA by this method only account for 4% of Nottingham's overall output.

The afternoon session included two perspectives from funders The Wellcome Trust and RCUK. Robert Kiley of the Wellcome argued for a centralised research management approach, rather than institutional, and Gerry Lawson from the Natural Environment Research Council spoke about the benefits of national infrastructure such as consistent identifiers and authority controls. One interesting fact that came up was that the Wellcome achieve 50% success with their OA mandate.

The day finished with some group discussion about where to go from here – should pressure come from RCUK? Is a national approach likely to work? What is the role of libraries? Can funders help by wielding the stick more? We didn't reach the answers, of course, but we end the day on a similar note to that which we started with – success will lie in communication with those doing research, ad working with them during that process, and not just at the end of it.

Thursday review
This was a very relevant and timely event for me to have attended. I'm very lucky that my employers support as much attendance at seminars and other development opportunities as they do, and it's something I appreciate all the more having been so involved with cpd25 over the years.

Thursdays for me always end with 5-as-side football in North London. Assuming I survive that, my last daily blog for the libraries day in the life week will appear tomorrow.

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