Some inital throughts around repositiories and research pools

One of the primary objectives of the project is to look at the specific needs of research pools and how they, as users, will need to engage with repositories. I thought it might be of use to put down some of our initial findings into a blog post.

We have now met with 6 research pools involved with the project, and the initial findings are very interesting. Its made us look outside of ‘normal’ repository thinking, and we’ve identified a number of potential crossovers into other JISC led projects, and also into EuroCRIS and its CERIF metadata format.

The first challenge with research pools is that they are made up of multiple institutions, yet effectively operate as independent entities, investing in resources (both human and facilities/equipment). To support their ability to report effectively to their paymasters, the funding councils and member institutions, they need to have specific policies in place to govern how their data should be managed and presented. This immediately causes a conflict between the pool and its member institutions, who all have their own policies and requirements. The project has to support both the institutions and the pools in this respect, so we in effect become a facilitator of needs.

The other interesting element is the direction of deposit for new materials when considering research pooling. Each institution has its own efforts to support the use of IR’s in managing their research outputs, and this is mostly a mediated activity which is not without its own challenges. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to find out how to motivate researchers to deposit at the local level, and the arguments to support the use of IR’s, but deposit (even post mandate deposit) is still very low. A lot of this would seem to come down to the identified benefits to the individual, as opposed to the benefits to the institution.

The research pools however are able to identify considerable benefits for their members in providing information on their research outputs – their opportunity for survival past the end of their initial investment periods, and as such, if the research pool’s ask, their members tend to deliver. At the moment the pool members produce publication lists and send them in to the pool administrators for collation and reporting. This is a very time intensive process, carried out independently of current IR efforts and tends to not consider the generation of a formal publications repository and associated OA/full text, plus all the benefits that go from increased exposure and availability.

So, we are now considering the following opportunity. For the ERIS Project to provide a mediation service for the pools, we would need to take the lists of their research outputs, compare them against the harvested outputs from all the existing institutional repositories and then gather and feed information back down into the IR’s from the central database. The central service would add the research pool items to a collection level description, acquire the full text versions of the outputs and then feed them back down to the individual institutions repositories. A sort of reverse logistics exercise. In this case, the central repository is king, and the pools would be able to easily generate the reports they need and smooth their ROI management with their funders.

In addition, the pools would like to be able to identify the research that has been produced as the result of capital investment in services and facilities. The project could also be able to help the pools in this respect by producing a CERIF-XML crosswalk from the core harvested data – which allows for the association of resources with research projects and facilities, in a common format that could also link up research outputs with the rest of Europe.

As well as all the above, the pools have also identified the need to create linked grey literature repositories to the final published outputs of their research, in order to build cross pool expertise and knowledge for areas such as impact planning – where some project have great exemplars for documentation and planning which have made projects a success, but wouldn’t necessarily be cited in a publication.

Anyhow, we start the formal assessment of our findings at the beginning of December, so expect some more thoughts from us around that time.

James

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One Response

  1. Eurocris and Cerif are a splendid idea, as Keith Jeffery has long argued. But the first priority is to adopt deposit mandates so your repositories have content. Otherwise all these powerful and desirable functionalities are whistling in the void… (What is needed is not to look “outside of repository thinking” but to make sure all research output gets put inside the researcher’s institutional repository [IR].) Make sure the “research pools” have convergent policies to deposit once, locally, in their own respective IRs, not divergently, multiply, in an external, central collection.)

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