All posts by lucindam87

A new professional’s view: UKSG Annual Conference 2015

Open Access iconGlasgow was the venue for the 2015 UKSG Conference and Helen Dobson and I headed north hoping for a repeat of the glorious weather in 2012. We were welcomed by torrential downpours and strong winds, but still had a great time.  The UKSG conference is a good opportunity to hear current debate and learn about innovative practice on the issues affecting libraries and scholarly communications, and a valuable forum for meeting  publishers.  I was lucky enough to win a sponsored place to attend this year – thanks, Springer and Sage!

Once again, Open Access (OA) was a key topic so there was much to interest us in the plenary and breakout sessions.   We were stimulated by Geoffrey Bilder’s introduction, recognising the pressure to publish facing authors and interested in the notion that universities might get better results from their researchers by measuring less and demanding fewer papers. Bilder commented that ‘the primary motivation [for publishing research] is to get credit for stuff, not to document it or provide evidence’, a situation he described as ‘dispiriting’, comparing citations to ‘a scholarly form of the Like button’.

“Citations are a scholarly form of the Like button.”

Throughout the conference, Helen and I were keen to attend events addressing issues and problems which we are all facing, including OA workflows, offsetting deals, and how to build trust in new metrics. The University of Manchester Library is already engaging with these issues on a local and national level so we were interested in the experiences and views shared, and particularly in hearing more about longer-term solutions such as JiscMonitor and the experiences of the institutions involved in the Jisc-ARMA ORCID project.

Counting the costs of open accessOne of the most useful breakout sessions was the panel discussion on ‘Engaging researchers on stakeholder perspectives,’ which prompted some lively debate and much follow-up thought and questions. Summarising the recent Research Consulting report on Counting the costs of Open Access, UCL’s Paul Ayris spoke of the high up-front costs faced by institutions until Open Access workflows and tools become more sophisticated, with smaller or less research-intensive institutions bearing a disproportionate cost burden.

Robert Kiley provided an update on The Wellcome Trust’s stance on Gold OA, emphasising that the Trust remains happy to fund Article Processing Charges (APCs) but only if publishers will honour agreements. We know from our own experiences that papers we have paid APCs for aren’t always OA or published under licences required by funders.  Kiley reported that 34% of Wellcome Trust-funded APCs do not have the required CC-BY licence, and 13% have not been deposited into PubMed Central. This means that  £0.5million of OA funding has been spent on papers that are not compliant with Wellcome Trust’s OA policy.

Elsevier’s Alicia Wise was also on the panel and explained that the cost of APCs has been reduced for some Elsevier titles.  We confess we haven’t really noticed this to date, as the average cost of our Elsevier APCs for 2014-2015 stands at around £1,969, higher than our 2013-2014 non-prepayment deal figure of £1,909.  Alicia stated that Elsevier don’t double-dip but explained that it was difficult to evidence this due to confidentiality clauses or to find a cost-based pricing model acceptable to librarians (who favour calculations based on quantity of content) and publishers (who base calculations on journal value).

The interactive session on OAWAL, Open Access Workflows in Academic Libraries, offered reassurance that different institutions experience similar problems to those we face. Speakers Graham Stone from Huddersfield and Jill Emery from Portland State emphasised that the principle of OAWAL is to gather a wide range of methods and experiences; not to enforce one ‘right’ approach but to allow librarians to tailor workflows to suit their institution. However, I felt that the group activity of identifying challenges, ideal scenarios and possible solutions suggested that a collective approach can highlight what needs to change around OA to streamline processes  The Jisc opeNWorks project we are leading has already highlighted to us the need for community solutions at a regional and national level.  As we prepare for the next major challenge of HEFCE compliance, we see that the issues we face are at a scale greater than an individual institution, meaning solutions will be found within the community, not in isolation.

OUP_cakes
Networking with publishers at UKSG

It was useful (and fun – excellent cupcakes, Oxford University Press!) to catch up with publishers with whom we have existing institutional deals, and with whom we may consider arranging a deal in the future, asking questions about how these function and clarifying workflows. We discussed an institutional deal being developed by OUP and saw  the pilot dashboard designed to simplify processes for our authors, and we dropped by the Taylor & Francis stand to ask for clarification on  how this publisher’s offsetting deal will work for authors. It was also really positive to hear publishers such as BMJ and IEEE considering how they can help institutions with HEFCE requirements, for example, by supporting Jisc’s Publication Router or providing authors with the AAM in acceptance emails; we would love to see more examples of this.

Invisible Humanities?

The conference ended strongly with its closing talks as engaging as its opening salvo. As always, it was a joy to hear articulate and passionate Open Access advocate Martin Eve speak on how ‘mega journals’ might be funded to address the risk of the Humanities becoming invisible to the public through competition for funding (true of subscription costs as well as APCs) with the Sciences. The University of Manchester Library supports the Open Library of Humanities and we look forward to seeing further development.

We left Glasgow reflecting on how far we’ve come in addressing OA challenges at an institutional level to date and feeling excited that we’re involved in tackling remaining problems via the Jisc Pathfinder projects, an RLUK group focusing on publisher OA workflows, and by participating in a UKSG seminar on offsetting schemes in late May.

Critical reading online

Teaching the researchers of tomorrow

For the past year I’ve been involved with the Library’s My Learning Essentials (MLE) Open Training programme, which involves facilitation of workshops on academic and study skills. In addition to the regular offer of sessions on effective academic writing and organisational techniques, January’s sessions include a focus on revision as part of the Library’s Exam Extra offer.

The MLE workshops are used by students and researchers at all stages of their academic careers. Over the last year, 39% of MLE workshop attendees have been Taught Postgraduate students, with Postgraduate Researchers representing 18% of delegates, and Undergraduates making up 38%. I love being able to offer constructive, tangible support to both current researchers and those who may consider further study or research after graduation.

Jam-packed workshops and engaging online resources

MLE homepage
MLE homepage with links to online resources for all and workshops for students and staff at Manchester

The workshop format is intended to make the best use of students’ and researchers’ precious time, with a jam-packed 20-30 minutes of information provision, instruction, discussion and activities. The rest of the hour-long session is left open, so attendees can work alone or in groups, on their own past papers or using example documents provided. There is also the opportunity to talk directly to facilitators like myself for advice. I enjoy being able to work with students 1:1 or in small groups, and discuss resources that can develop their ideas or answer their questions. It’s great to be able to point students to the Library’s fantastic suite of online tutorials. Designed by the Library’s award-winning MLE Development Team, these interactive resources are available for anyone to use, and offer instruction combined with the opportunity to put skills into practice. Some of my colleagues in the Research Services team have contributed to the latest online resource which provides an introduction to statistics.

Critical reading online resource
MLE ‘Being critical’ online resource

One of my favourite sessions to deliver is Critical Reading, where I suggest ways to ensure that reading is engaged and effective. When setting the agenda at the start of the session I delivered in the first week of January, people attending asked how they could possibly read everything for their topics, or if there was a better way to approach their work. I was able to suggest strategies to determine whether a text is worth reading, through setting a goal on what you wish to get out of a text before you begin, and predicting content and relevance based on title, abstract and introduction. Once you have decided that something is worth reading, I explained the strategies of reflecting on the main ideas being communicated as you are reading, clarifying anything you don’t understand, and summarising the paper and your interpretation of its ideas. As well as checking that you have really understood and engaged with the material, this creates a neat synopsis to refer to throughout your revision, and to look back on for those who go on to further study and research.

Communicating ideas

The most important message I have learnt from delivering MLE sessions, and the one I try to impress upon all workshop attendees, is that whether scribbling a 20-minute exam answer, drafting a 20,000 word dissertation or defending your argument during a viva, we are not tested on what we know, but what we are able to communicate about what we know. The ability to communicate is key to engaging with complex ideas and debates that may have raged for centuries, or are perhaps brand new.  I love being part of the MLE Open Training programme which I hope will instil a deeper understanding of methods and approaches to scholarly work, and encourage confidence to challenge and contribute to discussions at all levels of study.

Check out MLE resources on the library website.

 

Welcome 2014: Research support available

Welcome Week for researchers

At the start of the new academic year, the Library’s Research Services team has been directly involved in the University Library’s Welcome programme, meeting new students and researchers to explain how to get the most out of the services offered by the Library.
With so much for new students to take in, we focused on key information, explaining how to begin using the Library and get started on research. As well as providing logistical information on obtaining student cards and Library PINs, we highlighted the Library’s discovery system, Library Search, and drew attention to the invaluable resources available from the Library.

Welcome 2014: Research support available
Traceyanne explains the research support available to MACE postgraduate researchers

Speaking on 2 October to new Postgraduate Researchers at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE), we described the information, guidance and support offered by the Research Services team on the issues and technology affecting the University’s researchers. We explained how to get help with Research Data Management; assessing the citation impact of your research; use of our institutional repository Manchester eScholar; and how to make published work Open Access.

The Library has developed online Subject Guides to draw together information and resources for particular discipine areas, as well as resources of inter-disciplinary interest like our extensive international newspaper archives. Our colleagues can also support researchers with guidance on copyright, referencing and undertaking systematic reviews.

Welcome 2014: facilities available
Lucinda highlights the facilities available to support researchers in their work

My Learning Essentials (MLE) is the Library’s award-winning skills programme, comprising a comprehensive suite of online resources, workshops and skills clinics designed to help users develop their academic and employability skills. MLE offers a great opportunity to develop essential research skills, hone referencing techniques and the use of referencing software such as EndNote and Mendeley, and learn the most effective ways to plan literature searches.

It was great to meet some of our new researchers and we look forward to working with them this year.