Report from Jisc Research Data Management Shared Service Requirements Workshop

Yesterday I travelled down to Birmingham to take part in a Jisc workshop on the proposed Research Data Management (RDM) Shared Services Pilot. The event brought together approximately 70 stakeholders from UK HEIs to discuss requirements for the proposed new Jisc RDM Shared Service. This aims to be a sector response to the issues many institutions are facing around developing and/or procuring systems to manage research data effectively as well as long-term preservation of data (10 years+).

It is likely that the Shared Service will be modular, based around ‘lots’ for different areas of functionality, eg user interface, data storage, data/metadata access, preservation. Different suppliers may provide different aspects of the overall service and institutions will be free to buy into some or all of it, as an ‘off the shelf’ RDM solution.

Ideal RDM System Architecture - Jisc
Ideal RDM System Architecture – Jisc

As well as significant time for group based discussions to feedback on the current proposals, the agenda also featured presentations from 5 different HEIs on their experiences of implementing RDM services. These case studies showed a wide range of approaches to RDM, with everything from a completely bespoke in-house developed system (UCL), to something which involved a range of different external services working together (Lancaster), to an ePrints/Arkivum based solution (Manchester Metropolitan).

The session closed with a description of the pilot process and a call for 6-8 institutions to work with Jisc and external suppliers to develop an RDM shared service to meet institutional and sector requirements. The current plan is that this will be ready to roll out for beta testing in 2017. Involvement in this pilot will be a good opportunity to steer development of this major national research infrastructure project, however Jisc were clear that participation would require buy in at a senior level (PVC Research) as well as across services (IT, Library, Research Office) and academic departments. Apart from full involvement in the pilot there is the opportunity to be involved as a beta testing institution further on in the development process.

This event will be followed on 19/11/15 by an equivalent workshop for suppliers. Feedback from both the stakeholders and suppliers will then be used to refine the list of requirements which will directly inform the tender, to be released by Jisc in early December 2015.



Open Access Good Practice at Northumbria

We’ve just published an update on our Open Access Good Practice blog about our work over the past 6 months on our Jisc-funded Pathfinder project. The update includes details of case studies of OA in three UK HEIs, a cost modelling tool, and a decision-making tool for academic staff:

mapreading by wockerjabby CC BY-NC-SA 2
mapreading by wockerjabby CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Since the last update in March, we’ve had a significant policy announcement from HEFCE on Open Access in the next REF, as well as RCUK’s response to the Burgess review of Open Access implementation. HEFCE’s announcement in particular has shifted the goalposts for OA compliance in the next REF, by deferring the deposit upon acceptance requirement by a year to 1st April 2017. Response from the sector has been mixed, with some welcoming the chance to further embed OA systems and processes, while others bemoan confusing and mixed messages.

RCUK’s response to the Burgess review was less controversial, confirming that they accept and will implement all recommendations, including the formation of a Practitioner Group, making ORCID a requirement, and a review of the algorithm to apportion OA block grant. More recently, RCUK have also set out their arrangements for monitoring of the 2014/15 OA block grant, the deadline for which is 30th October which suggests a busy autumn ahead for research and library staff! Northumbria’s implementation of ORCID has advanced considerably over the past year, and our work on the Jisc-ARMA funded ORCID pilot project has allowed the University to embed ORCID sign up into the postgraduate research student workflow on project approval and at annual progression.

Our Pathfinder has continued to be active over Spring and Summer 2015. Both Northumbria and Sunderland have been further developing their own internal processes, procedures and awareness raising work, but we have also made significant progress in three areas of our workplan. In summary:

  1. Case studies: we have published case studies of good practice and challenges at three UK HEIs
  2. Cost modelling: we have developed and released an early version of our OA cost modelling tool
  3. Decision making: we have developed and released an early version of an OA decision-making tool for academic staff

We’ve also been continuing to engage with the wider Pathfinder programme to disseminate our work (at the June ARMA conference and an upcoming Jisc-ARMA webinar) and developing ideas for a touring OA workshop which we’re planning on rolling out over the autumn this year.

You can read the full update on our blog.


Open Access Pathfinder Workshop Report

At the end of October our Jisc-funded Open Access Pathfinder project, in collaboration with the Pathfinders led by the University of Hull and Coventry University, ran a full-day workshop on How to be innovative in Open Access with limited resources.


The event brought together representatives from 5 universities, most of which fall under the “modern university” heading. Among the attendees, backgrounds in open access and institutional responsibilities varied, with most attendees from a Library background, although three worked in central research offices:

  • Nick Woolley (Head of Academic Library Services, University of Northumbria, lead for Northumbria-Sunderland Pathfinder)
  • Barry Hall (Institutional Repository Coordinator, University of Sunderland)
  • Chris Awre (Head of Information Management, University of Hull, lead for HHuLOA Pathfinder)
  • Julie Bayley (Impact Manager, University of Coventry, project manager for 02OA Pathfinder)
  • Ellen Cole (Scholarly Publications Librarian, University of Northumbria)
  • Bev Jones (Research Repository and Information Officer, University of Lincoln)
  • David Young (Research Funding and Policy Manager, University of Northumbria)
  • Christine Downes (Research Support Coordinator, University of Northumbria)

It was a lively and engaging workshop and the smaller scale afforded more opportunity for detailed discussion and debate of the various issues.

You can read the full report for each of the three sessions on this blog:

Some pictures from the event are included below (yes, the cake was tasty!):

Draft Recommendations for Comment

At the end of the workshop we sketched out the following set of draft recommendations which we are publishing here for consideration and further comment from the sector, and in the spirit of the Jisc OA Pathfinder programme which is to “release outputs early and often”:


Best Practice Recommendations Sector Recommendations
Champions for OA among academic staff are relatively widespread, however we should consider OA champions among admin staff outside of Library, particularly research office. OA week: current positioning conflicts with start of term and reduces engagement. Suggestion for alternative UK date in Spring. Possible OA event in April 2015 (one year to go until HEFCE REF policy)
Avoid vague “want to know more about OA?” messages. Focus on producing short guides explaining process, what to do when, and FAQs. Coordination needed in negotiations with publishers to avoid “divide and rule”
Currently many institutions have piecemeal policies addressing OA, impact, IPR. There would be value in having an overarching “dissemination strategy” incorporating all of the above. Guidance on support staff roles and levels for OA from HEFCE?
Top-level webpages/intranet pages on OA – don’t split guidance between Library and Research Office. Pathfinder coverage of licensing and rights – there may be a gap here and Jisc needs to ensure this is covered
Create and disseminate template texts/OA slides for academics
In advocacy it is important to focus on the benefits of OA generally, and not just REF/RCUK compliance issues. Otherwise you risk creating a “REF divide” and disengaging staff who are not being considered for REF submission
Systems vs. Behaviour: expectation management is needed around the introduction of new systems (e.g. CRIS). No one system solves all problems. It’s crucial to focus on behaviour.

Next steps and Collaboration

Going forward, we have invited all participants to contribute a case study of their institutional approach to OA, issues specific to each institution, and how they are addressing them. Interim versions of these will be released in Spring next year, with the final versions in 2016. This aligns closely to the HHuLOA approach of capturing baseline data and updating this at regular intervals. Our Pathfinder is planning to contribute to this output for the HHuLOA Pathfinder.

In addition, Julie Bayley, project manager of the Coventry-led Pathfinder, is currently working on an intervention map, which will be a further joint output of the event.


Collaboration, balance and compliance: our Jisc Open Access Pathfinder project update

This project update is cross-posted from our Jisc OA Pathfinder blog:

Looking Back by Dr Wendy Longo CC BY-ND 2.0
Looking Back by Dr Wendy Longo CC BY-ND 2.0

We’re now just over three months into our Jisc OA Pathfinder project and it’s a good time to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far against our Project Plan as well as looking ahead to what’s in store over the coming months.

As a reminder and a starting point, it’s worth restating our project’s main aim“We will develop shared tools and best practice policies and procedures to enable HEIs with limited external funding to effectively and creatively respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by recent Open Access policies.”

Working together

Way back in June/July there was a series of events which collectively kicked off the Jisc Pathfinder programme. The first was the inaugural meeting of the Open Access Implementation Community, which is a Jisc-hosted gathering of primarily library and research office colleagues who have some responsibility for setting and implementing open access policy in their institutions.

At the event each Pathfinder was asked to do a short (“lightning”) presentation of their project. This was incredibly useful as it enabled us to start to get a sense of where our project fits within the programme and where there are overlaps and potential synergies with other projects.

Following this my colleague, Ellen Cole, attended the first Programme Meeting on behalf of our Pathfinder. Here the theme of working together was picked up and a number of alignments between the projects were highlighted.

One of the first priorities for us following these events was to identify partners to work with us to build case studies – one of the key outputs of our project. In our bid, we had planned to hold a first case study workshop in September, but this clashed with various other Pathfinder events and it made sense to align our workshop with the plans of other Pathfinder projects. We therefore deferred the workshop until late October and are now in the planning stages, following initial discussions with the Hull and Coventry-led Pathfinders. These Pathfinder projects are both focusing on complementary areas to our own: Hull’s HHuLOA project looks at how OA can further research development at partner institutions, while Coventry’s O2OA focuses on understanding the requirements to implement OA in a modern university setting.

Like us, both of these projects have been carrying out some form of “baselining” (i.e. working out where they are currently and what the key issues are in order to address their project objectives). For us, some of this analysis has focused on our institutional repositories – which have been central in driving forward the OA agenda at our respective institutions. At our workshop we will build on this to explore questions around setting and implementing institutional OA policy in a modern university, and how we can go beyond compliance with limited external funding for OA.

A balancing act?

Our project team has also been busy designing a methodology for our case study work package. Part of this was assessing our current situation – as mentioned above – but we have also used the opportunity presented to us by this year’s Repository Fringe in Edinburgh. As one of the OA Pathfinders, we were asked to run a short session introducing our project to the delegates (a mix of library professionals, developers, publishers, and funders).

Our workshop focused on a few key questions which have arisen from our project team’s initial discussions as well as the work that we’ve already undertaken around open access advocacy and policy development:

  1. In our institutional OA policymaking, do we aim to strike an “optimal balance” between Green and Gold OA, or do we favour one over the other?
  2. Do all stakeholders in our institutions see this the same way as us?
  3. As institutions with limited resources to address the challenges posed by OA, can we use these policies to positively influence other aspects of our institutional culture, e.g. publishing behaviour?

The workshop provided some expected and some unexpected answers to these questions. It also helped to highlight many common themes and issues which are shared by a variety of stakeholders. The full report includes a summary and commentary on the findings – as well as copious pictures of coloured post-it notes!

Compliance and evidence

It’s been a busy time in our universities over the past few weeks, with preparations for the beginning of the new term. Those of us with an open access remit have been especially busy contributing to a number of reports and consultation documents primarily linked to the RCUK compliance monitoring report (due on the 12th September) and their related call for evidence on implementing the RCUK OA policy.

I’ll be writing another post about the various sector-wide consultation responses we have contributed to. For Northumbria, putting together the RCUK OA compliance report presented challenges in terms of linking ouputs and funding data. We have certainly made significant progress this year – an OA policy has been officially agreed by the University Executive, and this is supported by a significant internal OA APC fund. However, we still have work to do to make the whole OA lifecycle work smoothly.

What’s next?

  • Our project workshop in late-October will bring together 6-8 institutions with complementary aims to explore the challenges of implementing OA in a modern university setting. This will be the starting point of the case studies which will become a key output of the project.
  • We will start to look at cost modelling for OA, which will likely include further collaboration with another Pathfinder. Watch this space for more details.

Unique Author Identifiers: ORCID, Scopus ID, Researcher ID – what’s the difference?

I posted this earlier on Northumbria’s ORCID blog as part of our Jisc-funded project to embed ORCID across researcher career paths. I’m not an expert by any means on the topic of unique author IDs, but the Library, which is running the project, felt it would be good to get a non-librarian’s point of view on this issue, so I did some research and this is what I found:

Fingerprint by CPOA (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Fingerprint by CPOA (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“As we’ve mentioned previously, there is a problem in overcoming “standards proliferation” fatigue when promoting any new research tool or ID standard. The web has enabled an unprecedented level of sharing and connectivity, especially with regards to research, but the downside of opening up the floodgates means you need better ways of filtering information and finding what’s relevant.

In the context of research, unique author identifiers are one way to solve the problem of author ambiguity. Being able to consistently and accurately identify the author of a piece of research is valuable for researchers (because it means you can quickly find other work by the same author and ensure your own work is linked to you) and for administrators and librarians (because it’s vital to be able to manage and report on the research your institution has produced).

Several unique author identifiers have been developed to address this issue in recent years, but the three main ones are: ResearcherID (developed by Thomson Reuters and used in Web of Science and related products); Scopus Author ID (developed by Elsevier and used in Scopus and related products); and ORCID (developed by ORCID Inc., which is a non-profit, community-driven organisation, based in the USA but with international membership).

At a basic level, all three tools do more or less the same thing; that is, uniquely identify an author and link this unique ID with his/her publications/outputs. However, there are important differences between them and reasons why you may need more than one.

The ownership of these IDs is an important signal of their use. ResearcherID is used to identify authors and enables users to build a publication profile and generate citation metrics from Web of Science (assuming you have access to this product, usually provided through your institution). Scopus Author ID is automatically assigned to all authors and also ensures this information is accurately reflected in the various Scopus tools such as search and analytics (e.g. citation tracking, h-index etc.).* Researchers benefit from this by clearly identifying their work, but so do the publishers: ensuring their information is up-to-date and accurate means that they raise the quality of their associated search, discovery and analysis products, which potentially leads to increased traffic to these services and, ultimately, sales.

orcid-logoORCID, by contrast, is not owned by a publisher, but is a community-driven organisation which includes representatives from a range of stakeholders on its board of directors, including funders (Wellcome Trust), publishers (Thomson Reuters, Wiley-Blackwell, Nature, Elsevier) and universities (Cornell, Barcelona, MIT). While ResearcherID and Scopus ID are linked to the journal output of their respective publishers, ORCID is neutral in this respect; you can associate an ORCID with an output in any article from any publisher, and you can also attach the identifier to datasets, equipment, media stories, experiments, patents and notebooks. ORCID does not offer any “added value” services such as citation analysis linked to the acquisition of an ORCID (as is the case with ResearcherID and Scopus ID) – its mission statement is really very simple: “to solve the name ambiguity problem in research and scholarly communications by creating a central registry of unique identifiers for individual researchers and an open and transparent linking mechanism between ORCID and other current researcher ID schemes.”

If you are a researcher, then, depending on your discipline, you may need to sign up for all three. But this is not as difficult as it sounds. Both ResearcherID and Scopus Author ID have relatively painless ways of linking up with your ORCID (see ResearcherID-ORCID integration and Scopus ID-ORCID integration). This will automatically link the research linked to ResearcherID/Scopus ID to your ORCID and ensure that publication lists can be imported from one ID system into another.

If you are a researcher and you haven’t yet signed up for any of these author identification tools then the best way forward is to sign up for an ORCID. ORCID is rapidly becoming the standard, and is supported by many publishers, universities and funders.”

* 07/08/14 Following recent discussion with Scopus on Twitter, I’ve clarified the wording here. All authors are/can be assigned Scopus IDs/ResearcherIDs – not just authors published in Elsevier/Thomson Reuters journals.


Open Access at Northumbria: the key issues

Lockless Keys by plentyr CC BY-SA 2.0This post by Ellen Cole is cross-posted from our Jisc-funded OA Pathfinder blog:

“I’ve worked at Northumbria University since January 2011 and have seen many changes to how we ‘do’ Open Access. This is an attempt to summarise where we are with our systems, policies and governance, in another post I’ll talk about how we work with researchers to support their OA endeavours.

Though Northumbria researchers have pursued OA by other means, our efforts as a University have mostly centred around our institutional repository, Northumbria Research Link (NRL). NRL has been around since 2008 in a number of guises and is now a key part of the research workflow at Northumbria and central to our efforts to deliver OA.

NRL currently contains 12946 records, 25% have full text attached. Of our 6305 journal articles, 24% have full text attached. In addition to mediating deposits to NRL, the Scholarly Publications Team (me and 3 Scholarly Publications Assistants) has recently been administering the payment of article processing charges (APCs), and preparing for the implementation of our new University Open Access policy, which mandates the deposit of accepted author manuscripts  to NRL and provides institutional funds for the payment of APCs where funder policy requires or where seen as advantageous by the faculty.

In my view, these are key issues in the development of OA at Northumbria:

  • The repository is central to the research lifecycle, with metadata re-used in multiple research administration systems. Our researchers use an online Personal Research and Innovation Plan (PRIP) to compile their recent research activities and plan their future activities. Details of their published work are harvested from NRL, so the researcher must deposit in NRL to ensure their research is reviewed in the PRIP process. This has perhaps diluted the OA function of the repository, but provides a great opportunity to start talking to researchers about OA.
  • Using NRL metadata for institutional purposes (the REF2014 submission, PRIP) has provided us with a rich data set to use to analyse our research activity. This enabled us to create detailed cost models for a range of scenarios to deliver OA, ranging from the cost of simply making everything available green and making everything available gold, with various positions in between, such as only making ‘REF-able’ items available in a gold format.
  • There’s a shared understanding that OA is about more than just compliance with funder policy, and could be a great opportunity for increasing access to our research. In turn, this could help meet our institutional goals of increased research impact. This has informed our decisions in formulating an OA policy: were we satisfied with an all-green route that may be fully policy-compliant, if paying an APC could lead to immediate, free, global access to our research, potentially increasing its reach and impact?
  • Cross-university partnerships have been crucial to the development of NRL and OA. Though services are often library-managed and administered, our accountability is to a much broader community, including both researchers and other support services.

The University has a growing research profile and aims to increase the volume and improve the quality of research, consultancy and scholarly activity. As external funding for OA – BIS ‘pump prime’ funds, RCUK block grants  – was provided based on previous research activity, there is a shortfall in this funding. The institutional fund is an attempt to address this, to ensure our researchers have the same options open to them as researchers at institutions in receipt of greater external funds. Another route to OA for our authors will be a new journal publishing platform managed by the University Library.

This is a really exciting, busy, time to be involved in research support at Northumbria. We have a lot to do, but there’s an appetite here, and with our project partner Sunderland, to come up with some creative solutions to the challenges OA presents.”


OAIC: Facing the Open Access challenge together

This is a cross-post from our Jisc OA Pathfinder blog:

Yesterday I attended the first physical meeting in Jisc’s Open Access Implementation Community (OAIC) in London. The OAIC is a network of librarians, research managers and other administrators – basically everyone working in UK HE who has a stake in implementing Open Access requirements of funders and HEFCE.

Jisc and the OAIC are arranging a series of events (workshops, webinars etc.) to enable the Pathfinder projects and the community to learn from each other and share best practice. These events are a great opportunity for everyone to get together and share things that have worked (and what hasn’t!) so that we can more effectively address the challenges posed by OA.

All of the Jisc OA Pathfinders were invited to attend yesterday’s event to deliver short “lightning talks” on what our projects aim to do over the next two years. Although the proposals had already been circulated around the Pathfinder group, I found it useful to hear other projects talk about their aims and scope in person. It was great to meet the other Pathfinder teams and to start to think about synergies and overlaps of our projects.

Here’s my presentation of our Pathfinder:

The event was well attended with representatives from a range of organisations – not just the Pathfinder projects. It was also good to see a mix of library and research support staff involved. The projects each had unique elements, although some (our own included) had areas of overlap. For example, several Pathfinders aim to produce “toolkits” and case studies.

This means it will be important for us all to work together to ensure we’re not duplicating effort and that the toolkits and outputs we create are complementary and of value to the sector as a whole. Jisc are aware of this and next week’s Programme meeting for all the Pathfinder projects will be a good opportunity to start a dialogue on how we all work together.

The afternoon was a chance for us to brainstorm the key problems we’re facing in groups – and then to propose solutions. It was interesting that many of the groups came up with advocacy and clarity around procedures and systems as two key areas to address. The others were compliance (with RCUK and HEFCE’s REF requirements), and the mismatch between publishers and funders.

Jisc Map slideThe apparent proliferation of projects, standards and stakeholders was also raised. At one point Neil Jacobs produced a slide with a baffling array of arrows and nodes: CASRAI, RIOXX, Monitor, Publications Router, Sherpa ROMEO, OpenDOAR, OpenAIRE… One of the tasks ahead for both Jisc and the Pathfinders must be to find a way of distilling all of this down into easy-to-understand workflows and procedures for both academic staff and administrators.

While I really enjoyed the day, I do wonder whether the location needs to be varied a bit for future meetings. I appreciate that London is relatively straightforward for most travellers, but it would be good to have more Northern OAIC meetings every so often.

The Twitter hashtag for the event was #oagp (OA Good Practice) and this gives a good flavour of the discussion at yesterday’s meeting.


Survey to help major research project understand how you use books

Domesday-book-1804x972 - Public DomainOAPEN-UK, an AHRC and Jisc-funded project on open access monographs, is currently running a survey to understand how researchers in the humanities and social sciences use books, and especially monographs.

The survey design has been informed by a range of funders including HEFCE and Jisc, and the findings will help build an evidence base for future policies to support monograph publishing in the UK.

No identifiable data will be made public or shared beyond the OAPEN-UK project team. All respondents to the survey can enter a prize draw to win up to £100 of Amazon vouchers.

I hope you’ll spare 10-15 minutes to participate, and to help the researchers understand what you want as both authors and readers of books.

The survey can be found here: 

The deadline for completed surveys is 6th June.

If you have any questions, please contact the survey researcher, Ellen Collins, on”


Digging Into Data: International Research Funding

Big data water wordscape by Marius B CC BY 2.0Round 3 of the Digging into Data Challenge opened yesterday.

This international research funding competition, representing funders from 10 countries including JISC, AHRC and ESRC, has been held every two years since 2009 and seeks to “explore how computationally intensive research methods can be used to ask new questions about and gain new insights into our world.” This year’s Challenge focuses on how “big data” changes the research landscape for humanities and social sciences.

“Now that we have massive databases of materials available for research in the humanities and the social sciences–ranging from digitized books, newspapers, and music to information generated by Internet-based activities and mobile communications, administrative data from public agencies, and customer databases from private sector organizations-—what new, computationally-based research methods might we apply? As the world becomes increasingly digital, new techniques will be needed to search, analyze, and understand these materials. Digging into Data challenges the research community to help create the new research infrastructure for 21st-century scholarship.”

Projects must involve international collaborations between research teams in two to four countries. The deadline for applications is 15th May 2013. UK teams can be composed of individual or multiple universities and the award limit reflects this: for a single institution awards for the UK component of activity range from £15,000 to £100,000; if the team consists of members from two or more institutions then this limit is raised to £150,000. The UK element must be costed using FEC methodology in the same way as a standard JISC application. Institutions from other countries in the consortium must follow the rules of the relevant national funder, all of which are available on the Digging into Data website, alongside the main call [PDF].

Please get in touch with RBS if you would like to discuss an application to this call.