[eIFLoa] Fwd: Advice on filling your repository
iryna.kuchma at eifl.net
Fri Mar 26 18:43:14 EET 2010
[Forwarded message from Arthur Sale]
Advice on filling your repository
Arthur Sale, University of Tasmania, 26 March 2010
I was moved to produce this by Hugh Glaser’s remarks that no-one was
prepared to offer advice to beginners or people transitioning to a properly
mandated repository. This advice is not new. It has been said by many others
in part, and I have been preaching it in Australia and New Zealand for at
least five years. It is however firmly based on experience, and knowledge of
what works and what doesn’t in many universities, right around the world.
2. Long-term target
The long term target of every repository manager must be that depositing
research publications should become an automatic part of an academic’s work
pattern, just like submitting their research for publication, or setting
their examinations. I take this as so obvious that I will not argue it.
The only known route to achieving this is via what is called
a “mandate”. As an important transition to getting the long-term target to
happen, and happen worldwide, institutions (and research funders) have to
require their employees (grantees) to deposit their research publications in
an OA repository. This is unexceptionable and few complain about it. Alma
Swan’s studies support this as does actual on the ground evidence. Again, I
will not argue this, except to note that it is the only strategy known to
fill repositories with more than 50% of the available research publications.
This is well documented. See for example http://eprints.utas.edu.au/388/.
Once depositing and making publications Open Access (OA) is
universal (or even as low as 50% of the world) the momentum of the
technological revolution will be unstoppable, and academics publishing
quality papers will rush to deposit. It has already happened in Physics and
Computer Science in case you think this is fanciful. Mandates will no longer
be required except to deal with problem cases or will exist as an historical
leftover from the beginning of a technological change. Those academics that
don’t accept this will be the cast-offs of that generation of scholars, just
like previous scientific revolutions such as that for plate tectonics.
3. Short term targets
Assuming that you do not have an enlightened senior executive, each
repository manager has to adopt a different strategy. If it isn’t oriented
towards gaining a mandate in the long term, you are wasting your time,
unless you believe in prayer and miracles. Voluntary persuasion has
consistently been shown to achieve around 15% (sometimes a little higher) of
available deposits. See http://eprints.utas.edu.au/264/. Five years of
experience has not changed that evidence. The only thing that will change
this in a voluntary environment is the *universal adoption* of OA mentioned
above which will drag in most.
I suppose you are in this situation. You have not got a mandate. What to do?
Firstly you should accept that the idea of one person (other
than the Vice-Chancellor or one of the Senior Executive issuing a mandate)
changing the work practices of a university is such a foolish notion *a
priori* that it can be put aside as a delusion. The theory of change says
that change comes either quickly through fiat (a mandate), or slowly through
evolutionary principles. So here are some suggestions to start slow but aim
Do not try a scatter gun approach. It won’t work because your effort is too
thinly scattered. Soon backsliders come to balance the converts. This is
common centuries-old missionary experience.
Sit down and identify target departments in your university
and target them. (More missionary experience – go for the chiefs.) Each
university is different so you need to choose *your* own targets. Set in
place measures that will ensure that even when you move on to another
target, you have a champion in that target area who will be your surrogate
to deal with backsliding. Support the champion. Massage their ego and with
information. Read the paper http://eprints.utas.edu.au/410/, and apply known
techniques of change management to the problem. Did I mention that I was
previously a Pro Vice-Chancellor before I retired?
Why do we do this?
Your first and main answer to an academic should be that open access
increases citations. Counts of publications are now passé, and they were
only ever the crudest form of metric for research impact. Citations are now
the fashion, and they are a less crude surrogate – if an article is cited at
least someone read it! As time goes on we shall see more complex measures
like the SJR and the set of Hirsch indexes coming to the fore in a basket of
metrics that attempt to measure the multi-dimensional aspects of impact,
different for every discipline. Work has to be online to be assessed!
You should download Anne-Will Harzing’s *Publish or Perish *tool
http://www.harzing.com/pop.htm. Try it out. Demo it to authors. Good for
people with unique or rare names, like me. Not so good for John Smiths.
However it shows how online access (in this case through Google Scholar) can
be used to develop sophisticated metrics of research impact. Has X published
one excellent paper in their life twenty years ago, or has X a record of
good papers over that time? It matters.
Using performance management to promote your repository is a double edged
sword, so be careful. Some academics might hate you, and then where are you?
Better if a Head of Department asks for help. However, get your repository
able to deliver a research record summary so that a high-performing academic
can attach it to his or her report for performance management. The Head of
Department will get the message...
Forget about using your repository for promotion cases, etc unless you have
senior management support. It comes with the mandate territory, not as a
Things that do not cut any ice
Don’t bother to explain that the university administration would like to
know what research is being carried out. 99% of academics would say “Stuff
that!” Don’t try to explain how when everyone goes OA, then your researchers
will have free access to the world’s literature. They don’t care – they have
never paid for access anyway.
An especial word of warning. Do not publish lists of
individual academics who are most downloaded this month, or similar. Do not
try to award prizes to individual academics. Most academics absolutely hate
this, and you’ve lost them for years. The exceptions are (surprise) those
few at the top. My experience is that the same people are at the top rather
consistently, so what are you doing? Pandering to their ego, that’s what.
And maybe you get pats on the back for your perspicacity. As a matter of
interest, the same object has been consistently top of the UTas downloads
for at least three years! Psychiatry is popular it seems. It probably has
impact above its citation count.
Other things that are useful
Most of the following tips are very useful with individual academics, but
responses to each one varies widely. They are worth doing centrally in your
repository. Especially they are the answer to the people who already put
their papers on their websites (so they are OA) and think that a repository
isn’t any better than their website. Disabuse them, because they aren’t
converts, they are dyed-in-the-wool OA providers. They won’t backslide once
you’ve convinced them.
- Put effort into making sure that Google indexes your repository really
well. Many academic crow about being top of the list in Google on their
search term. You can’t guess that search term – it is the topic of their
research that other researchers are likely to use.
- Make sure that your authors can read good statistics on how often their
paper is downloaded. Some academics follow these avidly and deduce from the
patterns that someone just cited their work and try to find out who. See
or indeed any paper in the UTas repository that takes your fancy.
- Provide an easy service so that authors can put a link to an up-to-date
list of publications on their personal website. For example
- Make sure that each author can download his own paper (even if
restricted) wherever they are in the world. Very active researchers value
this a lot, because it is like carrying a no-weight library of all your
publications with you when you travel internationally. Makes collaborative
research a lot easier.
- Offer Departmental seminars on how to use OA information to best
advantage. Use Google Scholar shamelessly (doesn’t really work without OA).
Talk about Harzing’s *Publish or Perish* and demo it. Talk lots about
metrics, citations, and Scimago. Throw in citations as a way of searching
forward in time from a significant paper. Especially target postgraduate
(PhD) candidates. They influence more indolent supervisors.
5. Debunking some myths and Summary
This advice is meant to be useful to repository managers and librarians who
are new to this Open Access enterprise. However there are a few extra myths
that need to be squashed (not for academic eyes).
- The metadata entered by authors is in general as good as or better than
that entered by librarians. Do not try to do better. You are wasting money.
- Since almost all searches are done by Google, full text analysis rules.
Keywords and Phrases are of such little consequence that it is a pity to
waste a librarian’s time on them when they could be doing something useful.
- Copyright issues can be vastly overdone. If your mandate or your advice
calls for the Accepted Manuscript (aka postprint) as it should, just ignore
checking copyright and let it go up. If a publisher complains (they almost
never do nor have any grounds to), make it restricted without arguing. Do
not accept the Version of Record (aka publisher’s “pdf”) unless it is
guaranteed open access. In case it isn’t tell the author that the submission
has been rejected because they violated copyright. They’ll learn. They’re
good at learning. They won’t learn unless you teach them.
So to summarize: mandates are the only thing that works now. Persuasion is a
weak reed, but worth doing to prepare the ground for a mandate, but be very
selective in who you seek to persuade. Use change management tools to assist
you. The persuasive techniques continue to work once you’ve got a mandate.
Keep them going.
University of Tasmania
26 March 2010
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