Since 18th December 2014 the HE sector has been in thrall to the REF results, with those that did well clamouring about it and those that did less well cherry-picking the data. And clamouring about it. For the UKCoRR membership, however, REF 2014 is perhaps little more than a sideshow as we have long since been looking forward to the *next* REF when repositories, we are told, will really come of age. We built them expecting them to come, and while some did, many more stayed away, but from April the 1st 2016 even the most recalcitrant academic will need to be escorted to the repository gates the moment their paper is accepted for publication, or within 3 months at any rate. No, sorry Professor, it’s not an April Fool…
In addition to this primary requirement, there are other fundamental, related, issues most notably APC management and Research Data Management and with little more than a year to go, the Big Question is whether repository managers, as HEFCE’s foot-soldiers, have the infrastructure, resources and expertise to achieve full green Open Access in the UK – which is surely the implicit goal – and how various stakeholders – UKCoRR, Jisc, Publishers, Universities – are collaborating and responding to the considerable challenge ahead.
The UKCoRR membership now stands at over 300 members representing well over 100 institutions and organisations, the majority of which are using either EPrints or DSpace, sometimes with a CRIS (PURE, Symplectic, Converis) though often without, and with a long-tail of other software platforms. There are also different types of repository, as there are institutions, with some managing teaching and learning resources for example, e-theses or, increasingly, research data; some have sought to manage different content with a single platform (eg. Hydra) while others have opted for multiple, specialised repository instances. Some research repositories – historically a minority – are full text only whereas the majority have tended to also include bibliographic metadata, a pragmatic approach that reflects the historic difficulties encouraging academics to self archive their work. Both EPrints and DSpace are Open Source of course and some Universities run and develop in-house while others favour software as a service, outsourcing to EPrints Services for example. Each of these approaches, of course, requires specific resources and expertise.
On the UKCoRR members’, and various other software specific mailing lists, as well as at various real-life events, I cannot be the only one who has noticed a pervading uncertainty amongst those that manage and develop these, suddenly crucial, University systems, which is hardly surprising given the HEFCE requirements and the range of technology, whether in place or in development: RIOXX, CASRAI, OA Monitor, Publications Router, CORE, IRUS-UK, to mention a few.
One idea that has recently emerged from the committee is that we should, as an organisation, seek to define some sort of guidance, perhaps even a “repository specification” to help our members and their organisations to ensure that their infrastructure and advocacy is fit for purpose. There are already a wide range of relevant projects out there, notably the Jisc Pathfinder projects* – http://openaccess.jiscinvolve.org/wp/pathfinder-projects/ – and OAWAL (Open Access Workflows for Academic Librarians) at the University of Huddersfield – https://library3.hud.ac.uk/blogs/oawal/ – so perhaps this is unnecessary. Please let us know what you think.
* An example of a Jisc pathfinder project exploring this area is HHuLOA OA which has sought to create a baseline of current OA activity within institutions as a way of identifying areas that require attention. Chris Awre of the project has recently disseminated a Google spreadsheet, encouraging other institutions to add their own information, in addition to the project partners – Hull, Huddersfield and Lincoln – and which is openly shared under a CC-BY licence at the link below:
See here for a blog post on the baseline – https://library3.hud.ac.uk/blogs/hhuloa/2015/02/05/open-access-baseline-activity-tool/