Friday, 30 March 2012

Raising visibility of repository contents for internet users

  Nowadays it has become commonplace to criticize institutional repositories for their lack of content specificity: you can't tell what version of the document is being made available, there is a lot of materials of insufficient quality in there, everything's mixed up, etc. When one has devoted a good part of one's professional career to develop such useful resources, this criticism is a bit painful to take. It's true IRs have weaknesses, even lots of weaknesses, but there is quite a number of people across the world working to solve them and to improve IR content quality and description. And IRs do have a decent collection of advantages alright - that should also be acknowledged to be fair. I shall now highlight one of those advantages, incidentally not even the most important one.

This morning I was looking for some bibliography on research data management performed via institutional repositories for a report I'm currently working at. So I googled research data management institutional repositories and this is what I got:

The reference that caught my attention was of course the one with the red square around it: seems to be called Institutional Repositories and Research Data and seems to be coming from Purdue University Library in the US, although the exact source is difficult to tell from the URL there:

When I opened it I was simply delighted to find this "Institutional Repositories and Research Data Curation in a Distributed Environment" report by Michael Witt and I was also quite amazed to see its publication date - there are clearly several speeds out there in research data management implementation.

When trying to figure out how to cite this report I suddenly became aware of the document head: Purdue University, Purdue ePubs, Libraries research Publications, Purdue Libraries. Had this document by any chance been retrieved from an Institutional Repository? So I checked the footnote: "This document has been made available through Purdue e-Pubs, a service of the Purdue University Libraries. Please contact for additional information". I was simply ecstatic.

I remember having had this discussion about inserting document covers into repository contents more than once when I worked as IR manager. The arguments for not doing it were always the same: we do have too many documents in the repository by now to start re-processing them all and we should instead focus on getting even more of them filed into the IR. These are quite good arguments indeed, but it's the kind of argument that lead to the issues we're now bitterly complaining about. It's a fact that IRs can be properly managed, that a great improvement in description standards has taken place and that there is a still a long way to go until we reach a consensus on a description standard that can please researchers. But not too many IRs that I know of have implemented this rather simple strategy of providing their documents a cover so that users will be able to identify their source and subsequently give it some credit. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this -if you're in the UK or the US you will say that's something every average repository has already cared for, see for instance this example from Enlighten repository in Glasgow or this other one from the LSE repo in London- but I'd say most IRs, even top-ranked ones, lack this small but very useful feature - since given the joint Open Access repository content figures nowadays, the repository+google/googlescholar combination is pretty much unbeatable. I would even dare to suggest some kind of harmonised international seal for identifying reliable research content coming from an institutional repository from their very cover - so that the user will be able to give credit where credit is due.

Let me finish this piece of advocacy with a recommendation to read the abovementioned Purdue University Library report to any colleague interested in potential opportunities for starting out research data management initiatives from the University Library.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Alicia López Medina appointed as new COAR Executive Director

  The International Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) was launched last October 2009 in Ghent with the aim of providing the framework for a global repository organisation. After the DRIVER European project succeeded in building up a network of European scientific Open Access repositories, COAR took over the challenge of extending such network to other continents. With an increasing number of members and partners across the world, COAR is gradually and steadily spreading its network through Asia and Latin America, as well as signing cooperation agreements with international organisations such as SPARC or LIBER.

The recently published COAR Newsletter No. 2 (Mar 2012) announced COAR Executive Board decision to appoint Alicia López Medina (Universidad Española de Educación a Distancia, UNED) as the new Executive Director of COAR.

An opportunity showed up recently to talk to Alicia -whom we warmly congratulate for her new position- on her new duties and responsibilities as Head of COAR. A brief summary of the conversation follows:

What are the most relevant COAR short-term goals as of today?

There are several worklines COAR will focus on in upcoming months. We want to keep on spreading the organization member and partner network throughout the world as successfully as we have done so far. Partnerships will allow COAR to engage with other international organisations for extending and enhancing joint coordination activities. Besides that, COAR Working Groups are progressing with their tasks for supporting OA repositories in various ways – with repository interoperability as a particularly relevant objective. Finally, as a truly international organization, we consider the contents COAR produces should be available in the languages of the participanting geographical areas, so we will make a strong effort to ensure that.

The Research Information Management community seems to be increasingly relying on non-profit consortia for its development- with organisations such as COAR, euroCRIS or, more recently, ORCID. A common challenge to these organisations is their sustainability and their ability to find a specific business model that ensures it. How is COAR planning to operate in this regard?

Regarding COAR business model -which I’d rather call sustainable operational model- the COAR Annual Meeting and General Assembly 2012, to be held next May in Uppsala, will extensively deal with this issue. We consider that it should be based on both an enlargement of the membership basis and on signing of agreements with relevant international partners. The output from COAR Working Group activities may play a relevant role as well.

COAR is developing its network in a particularly effective way in Latin America. Why is it that a region where the implementation of an Open Access repository network is a rather recent initiative is engaging so strongly with COAR?

COAR has been making a strong and persistent effort to engage with the dynamic Latin American Open Access repository community. As a result of this effort, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed last May 2011 with RedClara and Colabora regional networks.

There are multiple reasons for this synergy between COAR and the Latin American OA Repository Network - see the interview with my colleague Dr. Norbert Lossau [Chair of COAR Executive Board] at the Dec 2011 edition of the DeCLARA Newsletter [p. 13] for a comprehensive account of them. Among these I’d highlight the RedClara BID-BPR Project 'Regional Strategy and Interoperability and Management Frameworks for a Latin American Federated Scientific Institutional Repository Network' which was recently awarded funding by the Regional Public Goods Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and which currently makes Latin America the most active region in the world in terms of repository network building. This project represents a very good opportunity for applying repository coordination and interoperability guidelines right from the start of the network development. Besides that, I would also like to acknowledge the effort carried out by the Latin American repository community, whose representatives were keen to join forces with COAR for pursuing common objectives.

COAR is currently carrying out its activity through three Working Groups: WG1 Repository content, WG2 Repository interoperability and WG3 Repository and Repository Network support and training. Do you think COAR could become as successful as DRIVER was in implementing common working strategies in these areas?

COAR is actually a DRIVER follow-up initiative, and at the same time a more sustainable organization than DRIVER –a two-phase European Project– ever was. If the DRIVER guidelines were very successful in building up an Open Access scientific repository network in Europe, COAR is aiming to extend that network across the world. COAR objectives do also cover aspects that were not directly addressed by DRIVER, such as repository interoperability.

In this regard, the COAR Interoperability Project, which aims to provide a high-level overview of interoperability of Open Access repositories, identify the major issues and challenges that need to be addressed, stimulate the engagement of the repository community and launch a process that will lead to the establishment of a COAR roadmap for repository interoperability, is presently our main technical workline.

Finally, to answer your question, we’d certainly be very happy indeed if the various COAR initiatives could match DRIVER success and we aim to work hard to achieve that goal.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Creciente adopción de CERIF como estándar de trabajo en la implantación de Sistemas CRIS

  Con fecha 15 de marzo se ha publicado por parte de Rosemary Russell, del Centro UKOLN de la Universidad de Bath, la versión completa del informe "Adopción de CERIF en universidades británicas: una panorámica". Este informe analiza la creciente aplicación del estándar CERIF (Formato Común Europeo de Información Científica, Common European Research Information Format) en las universidades británicas como base para la implantación de sistemas CRIS (Sistemas de Información Científica en Curso, Current Research Information Systems).

El estudio identifica cinco áreas de uso de CERIF (Plataformas CRIS en universidades, Proyectos del Joint Information Systems Committee-JISC, Repositorios institucionales interoperables con sistemas CRIS, Agencias de financiación y Editores internacionales) y encuentra que 51 instituciones en el Reino Unido están trabajando a día de hoy con sistemas CRIS basados en CERIF, lo que corresponde a un 30.7% de adopción de CERIF como estándar.

El informe analiza asimismo el proceso de implantación de sistemas CRIS en las universidades, con las dificultades asociadas a la intervención de múltiples departamentos en el proceso. Otros aspectos examinados son la distribución de la responsabilidad de la gestión del sistema CRIS en diferentes universidades, la percepción de los implementadores sobre CERIF y su trabajo de persuasión sobre diversas instacias académicas para que el sistema CRIS no se limite a ser una herramienta ad-hoc más para dar solución a los retos que plantea el próximo ciclo de evalución de la actividad científica en universidades (REF, Research Excellence Framework) que tendrá lugar en 2014.

Según las previsiones, se realizará una nueva "fotografía" del nivel de implentación de CERIF en las universidades del Reino Unido -en permanente evolución- en el plazo de un año.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sobre PEER y awareness-raising

  Publica Ángel Borrego (Departamento de Biblioteconomía y Documentación de la Universitat de Barcelona) en el Blok de BiD un extenso e interesante comentario sobre el informe final "PEER Behavioural Research: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories". Siguen a continuación algunas consideraciones adicionales al respecto, quizá un tanto extensas para incluirlas como comentario al post:

Además de etiquetar las versiones de los trabajos especificando claramente si se trata de la versión publicada o de alguna clase de versión intermedia -algo que se está haciendo cada vez más sistemáticamente- los repositorios institucionales harían bien en distinguir con claridad su sección científica de la de 'otros materiales académicos' (incluyendo por ejemplo fondos patrimoniales). Esto es algo sobre lo que primero DRIVER y más adelante OpenAIRE han hecho notable hincapié, tratando de identificar repositorios con infraestructura científica para el Espacio Europeo de Investigación. La perspectiva desde las bibliotecas universitarias no suele ser sin embargo tan unánime al respecto, y sería quizá ahí donde habría que comenzar una labor de difusión eficaz de lo que son y pretenden los repositorios institucionales.

Por otro lado, en relación con los conocimientos sobre acceso abierto y repositorios de los autores/investigadores, así como sobre su valoración de los mismos como herramientas de difusión de su producción científica, queda claramente mucho camino aún por andar. No obstante, muchos repositorios han alcanzado ya el suficiente grado de consolidación como para poder presentarse como una sólida infraestructura científica institucional en los congresos científicos, facilitando así su conocimiento por parte de los investigadores (véase por ejemplo este 'Computer applications and quantitative methods in Archaeology 2012' que se celebrará próximamente en Southampton con un notable énfasis en aspectos relacionados con el acceso a las publicaciones, sobre todo en el ámbito de datos de investigación).

Finalmente comentar que además de estos aspectos relacionados con el awareness-rising, el proyecto PEER tiene interesantísimas cuestiones que debatir respecto a la interoperabilidad de repositorios y las oportunidades y los retos técnicos que plantea la transferencia de contenido entre plataformas (en el caso de PEER desde plataformas de editores hacia repositorios). Con COAR y el Grupo SONEX trabajando ya sobre estas cuestiones de interoperabilidad, la Conferencia fin de proyecto de PEER del próximo 29 de mayo en Bruselas puede ser una excelente oportunidad para una nueva entrada sobre PEER, sea en el propio Blok o en algún otro foro.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Por qué un Blog de GrandIR

  La comunidad de repositorios de acceso abierto cuenta ya con numerosos medios de transmisión de información relacionada con la disciplina: desde listas de distribución como OS Repositorios y LLAAR hasta blogs específicamente dedicados como el Blog del repositorio RUA de la Universidad de Alicante o el Blok de BiD de la Universitat de Barcelona, pasando por un elevado número de newsletters, tales como el de SPARC o el de Peter Suber. La cantidad de recursos de información es de hecho tan numerosa que se hace difícil en ocasiones encontrar tiempo para estar al día de todas las novedades.

Y sin embargo, hay muchas actividades y convocatorias que permanecen sin cubrir a nivel de comentario o reflexión en el panorama del acceso abierto por falta de ventanas y de rapporteurs. Hay muchos proyectos apasionantes de los que casi nadie ha oído hablar en el ámbito porque se están desarrollando en comunidades concomitantes con la del acceso abierto pero faltan los puentes que las comuniquen. Muchos debates enriquecedores que se quedan sin desarrollar, a menudo por falta de tiempo, pero también porque los medios disponibles no son los más apropiados.

Este Blog de GrandIR nace así con la pretensión de contribuir a difundir reflexiones e iniciativas que puedan favorecer el debate en el seno de la comunidad. Como tal Blog de GrandIR, los contenidos serán mayoritariamente aportados -en cualquier idioma, preferentemente en inglés o castellano- por los integrantes de la spin-off GrandIR, pero el blog estará abierto a comentarios y eventualmente a posts invitados de otros miembros de la comunidad de acceso abierto.

GrandIR: Who we are

  GrandIR startup was founded on Dec 2010 by three collegues from the Carlos III University Library in Madrid, Spain. Their goal was to provide technical services for implementing Research Information Management Solutions (mainly Open Access repositories) to the community of universities and research centres in Spain and beyond. The challenge lies in providing these technical services in an agile way from outside the institutions, playing the role of a reliable technical partner with regard to them - not just for dealing with specific technical issues, but also for doing joint scholarly work and project bids.

As of March 2012, GrandIR are:

Pablo de Castro, BSc in Physics, is Director and co-founder of GrandIR. He previously worked in communication and dissemination tasks for the e-archivo Institutional Repository (IR) team at the Carlos III University Library in Madrid. He also managed the Digital.CSIC project for setting up and developing an IR at the Spanish National Research Council/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). Since June 2009, he coordinates the JISC-funded SONEX Workgroup for Scholarly Output Notification & EXchange, which performs analysis of interoperability issues with regard to research information systems.

Mariano Navarro, GrandIR co-founder and Technology Manager, is Engineer in Computer Science. He previously worked at the Computer Support Service for the Carlos III University Library and in the Bank Management System sector. He contributes extensive expertise in programming and administration environments, as well as wide skills in the installation, customization and administration of content management platforms. As GrandIR Technnology Manager, he is in charge of providing the required support for specific technical challenges - relying for this purpose on a network of external collaborators when required.

Miguel Almazán, GrandIR co-founder and Webmaster, studies Communication Systems Engineering at UC3M. Having also worked at the Carlos III University Library, he provides a technical and a content-oriented background at the same time. He currently deals with GrandIR website and social network profile maintenance while supplying additional technical expertise on development work.