SOARing into a research career: developing student publishing skills

When The University of Manchester Library restructured its learning and research support activities in 2012 (as explained in a Research Libraries UK blog post), one of the aspirations was to do more to support our researchers in their publishing activities. Subsequently, our developing Scholarly Communications Service has explored the role of the Library in supporting researchers who are interested in creating new journal titles, a service area which has seen substantial growth in the academic library sector, illustrated by the emergence of networks such as the Library Publishing Coalition.

James Baldwin review on Manchester University Press
Volume 1 of the James Baldwin Review on Manchester University Press

At the same time, Manchester University Press, under the leadership of Dr Frances Pinter, a well-established innovator in the publishing industry, embarked on a strategy focusing on Open Access publishing, and the Press and the Library began to develop a collaborative approach to furthering the research publishing ambitions of the University.  This partnership led to a joint project to create a new academic journal, which has recently been launched under a shared brand: Manchester Open Library.

Further opportunity to work together came in 2014, when the University established a Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation and Learning (CHERIL). CHERIL issued an internal funding call, and the Library led a bid with the Press as a partner. We succeeded in winning funding for our proposal, Student Open Access Research (SOAR), and embarked upon a project to explore the issues surrounding student publishing. We sought to understand levels of awareness and demand, support and training needs, technical infrastructure requirements and the costs of running student publishing services.  In addition, we wanted to explore the relationship between research and learning, and the concept of the student publishing service as a tangible benefit to taught students at a research-intensive institution like Manchester. The University has a strategic commitment to research-led teaching, and SOAR aimed to support this aspect of the University’s 2020 strategy.

SOAR comprised a number of interrelated work packages, including:

  • To complete work that had already commenced on a student journal based in Manchester Medical School,
  • To produce a toolkit to support students interested in starting and editing a new journal,
  • To test software and recommend the best platform for student publishing,
  • To explore the value of publishing not just research papers, but also student reflective pieces on their learning.

CHERIL workshopTo deliver on these objectives, the project was highly consultative, engaging with students at all levels, and academics in a variety of disciplines. Workshops and interviews developed our understanding of student views, the opportunities and the barriers , and the dimensions of a potential service offering. In addition, we benchmarked our activities against other institutions doing interesting work in this space, including Edinburgh and Purdue.

So what did we find out?

Our final project report includes a large number of conclusions and recommendations, so this is a selective list of key findings. The full report is available alongside other completed CHERIL projects:

  • A student journal can act as a training tool, developing the skills of research students, and preparing taught students for what it means to be a researcher.
  • Don’t underestimate the work necessary, from the students themselves, from their supervisors, and from service provider. Publishing is time-consuming, and requires student editorial teams to develop expertise in activities that are likely to be very new to them.
  • Academic support is critical: experiences with the Manchester Medical School student journal showed us how important strong and committed academic leadership is when working with inexperienced editors, and let’s not forget the succession planning issues associated with the inevitable turnover as students graduate.
  • Interestingly, we found the well-established open source journal platform, Open Journal Systems (OJS) was not ideal for student publishing, as the levels of complexity associated with it would bring a significant support overhead.
  • The notion that students might publish ‘learning logs’ did not emerge as likely, at least in terms of scholarly papers. Instead, such pieces might lend themselves more to informal publishing, such as blogs.
  • We couldn’t determine fully what the market for a student journal publishing service at Manchester would be, and so concluded that it would be premature to develop a service, at significant cost, ahead of clarity about the demand. Instead, it will be more sensible to develop the draft toolkit we produced into a full training service, allowing us to develop our students without committing to resource-intensive and potentially unsustainable journal production.
  • It will be vital that any student publishing associated with Manchester is of high quality, and this reinforces the need to be cautious at this stage, and only develop titles we have confidence will deliver outputs we wish to be associated with the University. We also concluded that an interdisciplinary approach would be helpful, as this also delivers on a commitment in Manchester’s strategy and we are influenced by the success of Purdue’s multidisciplinary student journal, JPUR.

Where do we go next?

It’s very pleasing to be able to announce that the work completed by SOAR allowed us to make a compelling case for funding for the coming year, and we will shortly commence work on our next project in this area, PuRLS (Publishing and Research Learning for Students). This project will focus on the production of face-to-face and online training materials, and further build on the relationship between the Library and the Press. Look for news about PuRLS in a future blog post here!

Memorising your presentation

Introduction

To stand up and deliver a presentation can be a daunting prospect, whether for a new librarian or researcher. Fortunately, we all have access to the most advanced storage and processing unit in the known universe. No, I don’t mean a smartphone and a quick search on the Internet via Google, but your brain.

This is spectacularly good at integrating disparate facts, jumping between memories spanning decades of your life experiences and forming connections to apply to a task – such as developing and memorising a training session. You also get additional benefits: creativity and inspiration leading to relevant ideas ‘popping into your head’, often in the middle of the night – you don’t get that courtesy of Google.

When I first conducted training sessions as a librarian, assisting in an EndNote course, in combination with another librarian (before going on to deliver on my own) you were left to your own devices to improve (or not). A determination to be better and overcome nerves led me to the techniques described here.

First steps

Once you have devised a first draft of your presentation dialogue, if on paper, I would then type it up in a Word document, where it can easily be edited and printed. Continue to edit and proofread until you are happy with the content and timing (established by reading aloud to yourself). You are then in a position to develop an Outline – a single page summary of your presentation dialogue to be delivered and memorise the content, using the Peg Rhyme memory technique.

Peg Rhyme Memory Technique

Memory Jump #1 [-27 years to 1988 ]
Memory Jump #1 [-27 years to 1988 ]
I became aware of this technique through a fortunate happenstance – watching a television programme in 1988, entitled After Dark, on Channel 4. This was a late night discussion programme in which a varied group discussed a topic. Appearing in this particular episode was David Berglas, who talked about memory, commenting on another guest’s inability to remember a name (also in the group) and adding that he had just written a book on memory. Being an accomplished magician, he was used to making use of numerous memory techniques and conducting seminars for executives of multinational companies, to improve memory skills.

This piqued my interest, as anything which could improve my memory – a useful skill – was worth following up. I therefore purchased a copy of the book, entitled ‘A Question Of Memory’ [1], which includes many effective, practical memory techniques, such as Peg Rhyme.

This technique can be illustrated through an actual Outline for a training session (Bloomberg Certification) I currently deliver to students, which builds on the basic structure of Peg Rhyme. It uses number order (1 to 10) for the sequence linked to something which is familiar (and fixed) – the Peg – which is in turn associated with the item to be remembered.

In order to get to this stage I would summarise the dialogue of the training session to Section Headings, Sentences, Phrases, Keywords and Acronyms.

Peg Rhyme:

1 – Gun, 2 – Shoe, 3 – Tree, 4 – Door, 5 – Hive, 6 – Sticks, 7 – Heaven, 8 – Gate, 9 – Wine, 10 – Hen.

Associations to memorise the section headings of the training session I use:

1 – GUN INTRODUCTION

I visualise myself firing a starting Gun – a beginning or ‘introduction’.

2 – SHOE BENEFIT

I visualise gold coins falling into Shoes – from above – valuable – a ‘benefit’.

3 – TREE L/OBJ CERT PROCESS

I visualise myself walking into a Tree branch – a ‘L’ow ‘O’bject ‘L’ and ‘O’ remind me of ‘L’earning ‘O’bjectives.

4 – DOOR Bb PERS LOGIN

I visualise a Door with two rectangular name plates, one above the other. This reminds me of the access screen (two boxes for username and password) when starting Bloomberg, for which you can use a Bloomberg (Bb) Personal Login.

5 – HIVE BESS

I visualise a bee hive, with an image from different BESS function screens (explaining Bloomberg content) on each of the four sides of the bee hive.

6 – STICKS PREPTN. EXAMS.

I visualise myself running on stilts (Sticks) and leaping over a pommel horse in my old school gym, where sports went by the abbreviation PE (for Physical Education) which links to ‘P’ for PREPTN. and ‘E’ for EXAMS.

7 – HEAVEN CERTIFICATE

I visualise a scene from a film (A Matter of Life and Death – US title: Stairway to Heaven) in which the number of people expected in Heaven is displayed on a piece of paper, which looks like a ‘certificate’.

8 – GATE SUMMARY

I visualise a large wooden Gate, of the type giving access to a farmer’s field. Part of the gate has a diagonal bar which crosses the horizontal sections, looking similar to a plus [ + ] symbol. At school, addition (2 + 2 = 4) was known as doing ‘sums’, which reminds me of ‘summary’.

You need to get familiar with these 10 pegs and consider them visually – linking images.

Effectiveness:

An association doesn’t need to be true, accurate or possible (point six – the image of myself leaping a pommel horse on stilts being physiologically impossible). These visual associations may seem novel, being long-winded to explain, but are instantaneous and reliable in operation – they WORK.

Outline Development:

The Peg Rhyme structure forms the basis for an Outline. I use a Word document in landscape format, with the title at the top and a date when the document was last updated.

Bloomberg training outline using Peg Rhyme
An example of Peg Rhyme in practice: Bloomberg Certification training course outline

For each Section Heading I manage to summarise dialogue, which may take two to five minutes to deliver. The following make this possible:

Acronyms:

For example, GAWT – Good afternoon and welcome to …

Keywords:

FORMAT – ‘The format for today’s training session will be a presentation, with a practical demonstration in the middle to illustrate the ‘look and feel’. This will last about 25 minutes with five minutes for questions at the end. Handouts will also be distributed at the end.’

With practice, this technique can be used for a number of presentations, with the same keyword to represent similar details. So here, a single keyword has been used to represent an entire paragraph of speech.

Symbols and Special Characters:

>75% For example, ‘ > ‘ Greater Than symbol, cuts down space.

A Large Leap?

You may consider it a large leap to be able to speak for 30 (to 60) minutes by memorising the section headings, using the Peg Rhyme technique, from a single page Outline. However, the many small steps in summarising the full text of your presentation progressively (Section Headings, Sentences, Phrases, Keywords, Acronyms) means you are gaining a good familiarity with the dialogue.

Additionally, associations related to each Section Heading are helpful. These can be generated by asking yourself the question: what type of information would I expect from a section with this title? For example, in the Introduction, you might expect to talk about the title of the presentation, what will be covered, the format, any practical elements, handouts and how questions would be dealt with.

Hence, this gives you a framework to aid recall of the details you would be covering.

Practice And Effective Use Of Your Time

Memory Jump #2 [-34 years to 1981]
Memory Jump #2 [-34 years to 1981]
Mr Gibson was the name of my O’ level chemistry teacher in 1981. One of the useful tips he passed on to the class, in terms of working to become familiar with a topic, was to do ‘a little bit of work at a time, but often’. He noted that he had used this approach to achieve 2nd place in a national chemistry examination and that it had been effective. I concur.

In putting this advice to use, I work on my presentation preparation in the library (training room, before opening time) and also at home after work, in front of the mirror.

Another extremely useful time is when travelling to/from work. Observing fellow train commuters, reveals four typical behaviours, as we enjoy the journey, jammed in like sardines:

  1. Gazing out of the window.
  2. Tapping with a single finger at the surface of a slim, rectangular artefact – think 2001: A Space Odyssey, but much smaller.
  3. Reading/reviewing printed material.
  4. Sleeping.

I always go for option one or three, not owning a smartphone. When preparing for a training session, option three. It is surprising, but you can still work effectively with your Outline printout a few centimetres from your nose, wedged in by the doors, with others in close proximity.

So, 15 minutes well-spent, twice a day, commuting. Spacing out your efforts across train, work and home gives you a spread of times throughout the day (i.e. ‘often’) to get familiar with your presentation and makes best use of your time.

Summary

The key point in improving competence is Practice, before the actual presentation to be delivered. Confidence is boosted and nerves reduced by effectively utilising the Peg Rhyme technique via an Outline to memorise your dialogue. Knowing what you have to say means you don’t fall back on improvisation: getting rid of ‘umm’s or ‘err’s will ensure clarity of expression and understanding for your audience.

Turning full circle, I sometimes get emails from students thanking me for a training session, ending their email:

Thanks Brain.

Indeed. This never fails to raise a smile with myself.

Reference:

[1] Berglas, D. and Playfair, G.L. (1988) A Question Of Memory. London: Jonathan Cape.

Bloomberg BESS October 15

Financial Database Certification – Updated

Bloombgerg BESS October 15 (full screen)One of the certification schemes mentioned in my ‘Financial Database Certification’ post of 25 September 2014 has been updated. Bloomberg Essentials Training Program, better known as ‘Bloomberg Certification’, has new content, display format and examinations, post 16 July 2015.

In order to keep up to date and be in a position to better advise students attending the Bloomberg Certification training sessions I deliver, I have successfully retaken the certification examinations.

See my updated post noting changes on the Business Research Plus blog.

Alan_ Turing - The Enigma

Mathematics approval plan

A guest post written by Academic Engagement Librarian Nick Campbell.

As part of The University of Manchester Library’s new suite of Strategy Projects a work package was set up to investigate supplementary mechanisms for acquisition and collection development. One element of this was to run an “approval plan” to see if this method of purchasing would benefit the Library. We did this by subject area selecting Mathematics as a test School.

Alan Turing - The EnigmaThe plan itself was defined by Dewey range and readership level; our supplier had the Library’s full holdings file (updated monthly) to avoid supplying anything already in stock, and focused primarily on final year undergraduate and research level items. In essence the idea behind the project was to harness the power of available data for collection development and to determine if the Library might take some of the strain off academic staff in the area of complementary book selection. Of course teaching and research staff can continue to suggest and independently purchase items, and we greatly value this, but the thinking here was to explore an alternative method of acquisition.

The results so far have been good. A number of items purchased (examples below) via the scheme have already been borrowed, renewed and reserved by interested readers.

Alan Turing: The Enigma

An Introduction to Computational Stochastic PDEs

Thanks to Nick for this guest post – you’ll be able to read more about our investigations into data-driven collection development in a future post by Rachel.

RDMRose training

Refreshing the roses

With September marking the start of a new academic year, Manchester students are making their way into the University’s Main Library, site libraries, and website in increasing numbers. As the new students get to know what’s available to them, I’m minded to refresh my knowledge of some information resources, including those on Research Data Management (RDM).

Between November 2014 and February 2015, fellow Manchester RDM Service Team member Chris Gibson and I joined 18 colleagues from NoWAL institutions to participate in a four-day course in RDM that was tailored for information professionals. The course was none other than RDMRose, the result of a JISC-funded project from libraries at the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York along with Sheffield’s Information School (iSchool), to produce RDM learning materials for teaching and continuing professional development.

RDMRose training in Manchester
Haley with Andrew Cox, RDMRose project director

The course, which met one day a month over four months, was led by Andrew Cox of Sheffield’s iSchool, the RDMRose project director, and ably supported by Eddy Verbaan, one of two research associates on the project. Andrew and Eddy used learning materials that were updated versions of the original RDMRose materials. We met at Manchester, with participants coming from the universities of Central Lancashire and Cumbria, Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moores University, Nottingham Trent University, University of Salford, and University of Wolverhampton in addition to me and Chris. No two universities are alike, of course, and our conversations through group working and over coffee and lunch exposed us to different sets of experiences relating to RDM.

Each day was a mixture of types of sessions, and we were kept working all through the course, designing a support web site and a training program, reviewing sample data management plans, and examining policies for RDM and university repositories, among many other things. Having the sessions spread apart by several weeks allowed us not only to apply our practical takeaways between sessions, but also to do some “homework” (or is it “workwork” if you do it at work?) in order to report back to the group about data management practices at our own universities.

Even if you aren’t able to attend RDMRose training, you can still reap the benefits. The most recent version of RDMRose materials (version3) was released in April 2015 and is accessible via the RDMRose website. For those looking to extend their understanding of RDM, it’s well worth having a look – or at least bookmarking for later, once things calm down after the start of year.

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.

Many rail tracks

Are you on track with the EPSRC policy framework on research data?

EPSRC logoIf you’re not already aware, the EPSRC requirements around the management of and access to EPSRC-funded research data are mandatory from 1 May 2015.

If your research is funded by the EPSRC, we’ve summarised the key points to help you comply with the EPSRC policy framework on research data. Read our guidance to find out what you need to do.

If you want to know more about managing your research data, please contact our Research Data Management team.

Tiger

Predatory publishers: who CAN you trust?

Open Access iconOne of our responsibilities as OA advisors at Manchester is to keep track of so-called predatory publishers, and advise our researchers on publishers they should avoid.  It can be hard to separate wheat from chaff, so we rely, where possible, on others helping to do this. Until recently, we recommended Jeffrey Beall’s list, a well-known directory maintained in the US.  However, we have now removed the link, and will no longer advise our colleagues to use it.  Here’s why …

Some of the work we do extends beyond Manchester and is about sharing our experience.  We are currently lead institution on opeNWorks, a Jisc-funded Pathfinder project which aims to share best practice with colleagues from the North West region who have limited experience of providing OA support for researchers and to develop a community of good OA practice.  The purpose of the community is to ensure that trusted advice and resources are easily accessible to institutions that are unable to fund a full-time OA support post.

If the resources and systems we have created are seen as examples of good practice then we’d like them to be representative of our views on OA and it is clear our views are not aligned with Beall’s.

On the basis of what we’ve read – the Berger and Cirasella article recently posted on the LSE Impact Blog provides a good overview and entry points – and what Beall seems to have said in his recent presentation at the US STM conference, here are a few points on which we differ.

Publishing costs

Let’s start simply.  There is a cost to publishing scholarly works.  We know this and we’ve had frank conversations with publishing colleagues on this issue.  In the subscription model authors (who may also be editors) tend to be unaware of the costs, and librarians are aware only of the costs to their own institutions.  What’s ethical about this lack of transparency?  It’s practically the OED definition of predatory (“unfairly competitive or exploitative”).

We’ve taken the recommendation of the Finch Group to heart and have shared the costs of publishing with University of Manchester authors as a first attempt to remedying this problem, telling them that the University spent a total of ~£5million on journal subscriptions in 2013-14 and informing individual authors of the cost of article processing charges (APCs) – added to which there may also be page, colour or submission charges, let’s not forget – paid on their behalf.  Most of the charges we’ve paid have been to publishers of subscription journals offering a hybrid gold option, along with most of the UK universities in receipt of OA grants from RCUK and COAF.  With even more money flowing from university libraries to large commercial publishers there’s a new chapter in the Serials Crisis – an urgent need for offsetting schemes to address the issue of double-dipping.  This work has already begun and we’re feeding into these discussions.   However, the models we’ve seen so far are early experiments that need further refinement to be truly ethical.

Tailoring advocacy

The Open Access team at The University of Manchester Library
The Gold Open Access team at The University of Manchester Library

OA advocacy is at the heart of our interactions with researchers and we tailor our message to audiences at a disciplinary level and to individual authors as required.  This is necessary to win the hearts and minds of researchers for whom subscription publishing is the cultural norm, or to encourage a new generation of researchers to confidently challenge the advice of their senior colleagues, who frequently fall into that first category.  And while we might repeat core messages, the effectiveness of our advocacy depends on the nuance, which requires the thinking that Beall sees as unnecessary.  We tell researchers about the OA publishing model, explain why they need to know (and as funded researchers and/or employees of a UK HEI they do need to know) and why they should care. The most effective message to some authors might be pragmatic (“you might jeopardise your chances of securing funding with a particular funding body if you don’t publish OA”) but we always include positive messages about extending readership and the public good.  I often relate the experience of researchers in other parts of the world with severely limited access to academic journals, based on the inspiring presentation I heard Erin McKiernan deliver at the 2014 SPARC OA meeting.

We find our advocacy activities most successful when we engage researchers in discussion based on our experiences of providing OA support, and this is as important for us as it is for the researchers because it allows us to understand the barriers to OA.  Mostly this is down to complexity of publisher workflows – traditional publishers that is – and remembering to choose an OA option.  We hear these concerns often, much more so than the questionable publishers Beall focuses on, and we respond to these concerns by participating in RLUK-led initiatives to engage publishers in discussions on the simplification of OA procedures or, at a local level, by reminding authors to make new papers OA, and we know that traditional publishers are also helping with this culture change.  This doesn’t mean that we are enemies of traditional publishers, as Beall might suggest, rather that their systems and workflows aren’t as intuitive for authors as they might believe, and the scale of support we provide to authors addressing problems relating to these publishers makes this a priority for us.

Supporting innovation

Support for OA in Word but not in Deed
Bizarre accusation of hypocrisy

But that’s not to say that we are simply reactionary in our approach to OA.  We do react, of course, to new funder policies, new publisher workflows, but we are also hugely supportive of new developments in scholarly communications, eg, JiscMonitor, ORCID, Altmetrics, and we are always interested in the emergence of new publishing models.  We have responded to requests from Manchester researchers who wish to publish RCUK-funded papers with PeerJ by setting up an institutional membership plan.  We are working in partnership with our colleagues at Manchester University Press, developing the Manchester Open Library imprint.  The latest journal in development is student-led and will operate a form of peer-review that MUP CEO, Frances Pinter, considers worthy of patenting.  We are also supporters of Knowledge Unlatched and the Open Library of Humanities, and are encouraged to see traditional publishers experimenting with OA monographs as the sector seeks a sustainable business model.  OA has created opportunities for experimentation and innovation in publishing, driven by energetic and passionate individuals.  There are too many to name but Martin Eve certainly deserves a mention after bizarrely being charged with hypocrisy in Beall’s STM presentation last week.

We don’t disagree with Beall on everything, eg, we don’t dispute the existence of questionable OA journals and publishers.  As fund managers for the University’s OA grants from RCUK and COAF we take our duty of care to authors and funders seriously.  Requests for APC payments prompt an extra Quality Assurance check in the publication process at Manchester which allows us to alert School Research Directors of submissions to journals of questionable reputation.  Our website advice also provides a checklist for authors to consider as part of their publication strategy and we’ll now focus on this type of guidance until a community-driven alternative to Beall’s list emerges.

Liquid Lunch Business Data Service

Lifting the curtain on specialist business and financial databases

Liquid lunches

Several times each year, The University of Manchester Library staff are invited to take part in a “Liquid Lunch”.  Held at lunchtime, as you’d expect, this is a chance for staff to hear from speakers from around or outside the University on a variety of different perspectives and new ideas.  Those attending bring their own sandwiches and drinks are available.

Most speakers are external to the Library, but in March my colleagues in the Business Data Service (BDS) and I had a chance to present to the group.  The topic?  Specialist business and financial databases: Behind the curtain.

 

Specialist financial databases visualised as a tube map

With 30 interested colleagues from across the Library in attendance, we were happy to share some introductory information about how we help users of business databases get access to the data they need.

Xia Hong described the different coverage areas of BDS, including identification of existing Library resources, investigation of new resources, managing of databases, and advice and best practice on working with large datasets.

Phil Reed showed the topological tube network he’d made, explaining that some databases can only be accessed from certain computers in the Library, some can be accessed anywhere on-campus at Manchester, and still others can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.  With over 50 databases covering business and management, choosing the right one is not always straightforward, and we work to help users find the right database.

We were joined by our colleague Jane Marshall, Academic Engagement Librarian for Manchester Business School (MBS).  Jane is the first point of contact for our academic colleagues, and she described her work arranging for curriculum-linked library or database training.

Bloomberg BESS screen 2Earthquakes and equity

Brian Hollingsworth gave a demonstration of Bloomberg.  He showed some of the most-used areas such as share price data, alongside some of the unexpected areas of information such as earthquake data.  Brian holds Equity Essentials certification in the Bloomberg Essentials Training Program, and it was easy to see the depth of his knowledge about what Bloomberg offers and how to access it.  Students who pursue certification will find it increases their skills in working with Bloomberg and also may make them more attractive to prospective employers.

As the newest member of the team, having joined in January, what did I do?  I posed example questions from students, academic staff and non-academic staff; these questions were answered by the others in the team.  Knowing the kinds of questions that come to us helped our colleagues understand more about what we do.

Engaging with our colleagues

Initial feedback on the presentation was positive.  Some questions posed, such as those about how we evaluate our services and how the MBS redevelopment will enhance our services, provide good food for further thinking and development.  Our colleagues were enthusiastic about Bloomberg and all the information it holds; we may see many new users coming to our Bloomberg terminals!

Planning and delivering the presentation gave our team a chance to consider what we though our colleagues might not already know that we’d like them to know.  We would recommend this type of presentation to other teams at Manchester and beyond.  What might be hiding behind a curtain near you?

New data skills course for librarians

Want to improve your data skills and know more about statistics? The University of Manchester Library has teamed up with the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) to offer a new course. ‘Statistics for Librarians’ will run on March 20 in Manchester..  Participants completing the course will be awarded a CMIST, University of Manchester, Data Skills certificate.

All the details (and facility to book) are at http://estore.manchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=416

Last booking date is this Friday 6 March.