Monday, 9 July 2012

Green with envy (and just a little damp)

This is my second visit to Edinburgh and the real character and old world charm of ‘auld reekie’ is captivating despite the constant drizzle. I walked to OR2012 from my apartment through the old town which takes you past the magnificent Edinburgh Castle and up winding cobblestone streets in an area once known for public hangings and witch trials (now home restaurants, cafes and pubs). Then it was past the museum and on to the University of Edinburgh, once home to two of my favourite authors: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson. On the way to the conference buildings, I was fortunate to pass Doyle’s old home at the university, marked only by a simple commemorative plaque. A few doors down, the former residence of Sir Walter Scott.

Most of the conference takes place in Appleton Tower, which houses the offices of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC). Anthony Beitz from Monash University organised for us to meet with staff from the DCC and Peter Sefton from UWS also joined in. With a backdrop of magnificent views of Edinburgh, we exchanged experiences, thoughts and ideas. The DCC has produced some terrific guides for data management planning and data citation that we can use back home. They also do some great work in supporting institutions with their research data initiatives despite some interesting challenges in this area.
In the afternoon I attended a workshop on ‘Building a National Network’ chaired by the awesome Jackie Wickham from the Repositories Support Project at the University of Nottingham. This confirmed for me that the UK have done a great job in establishing a support network for repository development and for repository staff that made me green with envy. The RSP, for example, offers or facilitates: training, conferences, residential schools, webinars, support tools, site visits, help desk, blog and a buddy scheme (among other things!). UKCoRR offers targeted support for repository staff and most importantly, JISC provides support through its building infrastructure programs and through project funding. The UK repositories face similar challenges to us in terms of increasing full text content, advocacy for open access, building systems around academics, getting critical support from senior management and increasing different types of content in their repositories, specifically creative arts and research data.

Some thoughts arising from the workshop:
·       “Mandates with no teeth”. Just because deposit is policy, doesn’t mean academics will comply with it.
·         When a metadata record is created in a repository, an email is automatically generated and sent to the author asking if they can supply the full text of the article. Could we do the same but for research data?
·         The University of Glasgow has a showcase repository having carried out a number of initiatives driving deposit such as presentations, flyers and reminders to academics of compliance with funding requirements. Could we use any of this in our open access week?
·         How can we strengthen our repository network in Australia/NZ? We can definitely participate in the RSP webinars, though the times may not work out well.
·         The Finch Report is a hot topic here. I haven’t read much about it but I’ve heard it’s good the UK government is recognising the importance of open access but it takes repositories out of the picture.
·         Balviar Notay from JISC mentioned Repnet, which pulls different services together. There is an innovation zone for injecting new ideas and working with developers to try them out. There are rapid innovation projects and an oversight group with international membership.
·         You’ve heard of Sherpa Romeo. Well, now there’s Juliet. While he summarises publishers policies on self deposit, she lists funding requirements for open access.

Tomorrow will be day two. In the meantime, I’m working on my ‘to do’ list. So far I have crossed off ‘visit the castle, try a Jammie Dodger (jam biscuit) and buy something tartan’.


  1. Great thoughts you've posted looking forward to discussing your insights when you get back!