Tag Archives: scholarly communication

New to OA? Top tips from the experts

We have a fantastic community in the Scholarly Communication space. And this is one of the clear themes that emerged from a recent exchange on the UKCORR discussion list. The grandly named UK Council of Research Repositories is a self-organised, volunteer, independent body for repository managers, administrators and staff in the UK.

The main activity for UKCORR is a closed email list which has 570 members and is very active. Questions and discussions range from queries about how to interpret specific points of OA policy through to technical advice about repositories.

Recently, the OSC’s Arthur Smith (the current Secretary of UKCORR), posed the first ‘monthly discussion’ point, asking the group two questions:

  • What do you wish you were told before you started your job in repository management/scholarly communication?
  • What are your top three tips for someone just starting?

What followed was a flurry of emails full of great advice. Too good not to share – hence this blog. In summary:

  1. This is a varied and complex area
  2. Open access is bigger than mandates
  3. Things change fast in scholarly communication
  4. Don’t panic
  5. Work with your academic colleagues
  6. The OA community is strong and supportive

Top tips for someone just starting in Scholarly Communication

1. This is a varied and complex area

It’s complicated! Terminology, changing guidance and policies, publisher’s rules… everything is complicated and it takes time to learn it all.

You will experience A LOT of frustration (with publishers, financial constraints, lack of policy alignment, issues with interoperability, ) but there will be moments when it all comes together and you realise you have made a difference to someone and it is all worthwhile.

You’re not mad for wondering why open access policies/dates etc. are not easily found…

How varied and exciting the role is, with requirements (and opportunities) to develop expertise in diverse areas: communication/advocacy, copyright, systems, researcher training, project and team management, budget management…to name but a few.

To remember that this is an industry we have not traditionally been involved in, that it is a constantly changing landscape, that the community is incredibly supportive and endlessly useful, that Sherpa Romeo is still vital, that publishers really vary in their responses to open access – from behemoths to start-ups, and that everyone should back the collaborative effort behind the Scholarly Communications Licence!

2. Open access is bigger than mandates

Remember the bigger picture – open access/open research should not be about compliance; don’t allow yourself to become jaded.

Remember that it is not all just about compliance (the REF). Yes, it is concentrating researchers minds wonderfully at the moment but Open Access/scholarly communications should be about selling the benefits– the carrot not the stick.

Efface mandates & policy when possible – while the REF (along with funder and institutional) mandates are powerful driving forces, some people are not motivated by them, and OA and Open Science are bigger and better than any mandates.

It’s not all about compliance…

It’s not all about the REF.

3. Things change fast in scholarly communication

It’s not finished yet – we’re still building it and nothing is set in stone, so what do you think?

My advice is be adaptable – change is good. This field is rapidly evolving which demands that you remain flexible. What was true yesterday may not be applicable tomorrow.

It is a fluid constantly-changing field to be involved in and it will continue to evolve, so enthusiasm (or nosiness) and an enquiring mind helps

Identify ways to keep up-to-date as it is a rapidly evolving area and it’s impossible to keep on top of everything

Keep the big picture alive alongside the ‘how-to’, operational aspects. Reflect this in your communications.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something – a lot of things in this area are based on interpretation of policies etc

Stay passionate (even when the details are dragging you down).

There is a lot more to it than meets the eye – and that is what is appealing – variety and challenge.

Don’t be afraid to try and change things.

4. Don’t panic!

Open Access Emergencies are very rare. If you’re sent a takedown notice, hide the record immediately and then think about what to do (I’ve had two in something like 6 years, they’re pretty rare). Other than that, very few things are actually urgent and you can afford to spend a bit of time thinking about them.

You’re not going to get everything right – mistakes can be made and for the most part easily rectified (in my position at least!)

Don’t worry about asking questions– Green? Gold? Need some context? Get some context!

5. Work with your academic colleagues

Recognise that some of your best allies will be researchers, although they will often be silent partners working away in the background. It’s easy to moan that they always get it wrong, but no amount of lecturing about policies will ever be as effective as a casual conversation between two researchers over lunch. Catalysing those discussions is what we should be aiming for.

Your academics do not care about the vagaries of policy and probably weren’t listening when you told them. Keep the message very simple. If a specific funder is more complicated you may best off targeting those authors directly with an additional message that explains the difference.

Take time to understand the daily and yearly calendar of academic staff to better understand their pressures.

Engage academics in conversations – for me that is the most interesting and rewarding part of the role.

Be confident, you know what you’re doing. And if you don’t? Find out-  you’ve checked the embargo/copyright regardless of what the academic might want you to do!

Customer focus is important – support rather than appear to police (even though we might be doing a bit of policing).

You have to remember that even if you are relatively new, that you will probably know more than the academics/researchers themselves, so don’t panic when you don’t know/understand something they ask/request. They are usually fine with the standard “I’ll get back to you….” to give you time to find out. Plus, a lot of them are happy that you are dealing with it so they don’t have to.

6. The OA community is strong and supportive

It takes time to build knowledge, so build your networks.

Make use of your colleagues’ expertise – it’s ok not to know everything about everything and you’ll become a stronger team.

Engage on Twitter – it’s where I find a lot of useful resources, updates and share ideas.

Join UKCORR (but I would say that).

You are part of a community that works together – UKCORR is a great platform for discussion, keeping up with news (eg the release of multiple REF2021 related guidance papers within a few days of each other) and finding out the answers to questions.

Network as much as you can; UKCORR is a fantastic community.

Use the support networks that are available –Colleagues/Local Groups/UKCoRR/ARMA – people are genuinely helpful and supportive and repetition of questions does not offend.

Join the Open Access Tracking Project or at least subscribe to notifications. I read the email digest every morning, there is always plenty going on.

7. General advice

The validation queue will vary rarely reach zero. Your academics are publishing all the time. Don’t try to get the queue to zero, for that way madness lies. Instead set a time period (e.g. 2 weeks) and aim to have nothing take longer than that to validate. Don’t worry if this slips a bit during the busy times.

Don’t be intimidated by copyright – get expert advice when you need it, but most re-use & sharing rights are written down somewhere (in the agreement to publish, or in a publisher’s pages).

Don’t forget the Arts & Humanities – much of the lingo (& policy) in OA, e.g. “pre-print”, PubMed/EPMC deposits, etc. comes from the STEM side of the Two Cultures, and the Humanities tradition can be slightly different (for one thing, more publishing in books).

I’m also happy to admit that I was rather overwhelmed by acronyms and abbreviations. It took me an age to figure out that CRIS was Current Research Information System. Don’t be afraid to stop someone if they’re using a term that you don’t know.

Learn a little bit about code and the underpinnings of your platform so you can communicate more effectively with developers.

If you have the opportunity to learn how the technical infrastructure works, eg coding, APIs, go for it. This is on my wish list – so often I can’t tell if a development/improvement hasn’t happened because it’s technically not possible or if it’s for other reasons.

Published 20 August 2018
Compiled by Dr Danny Kingsley from responses amongst the UKCORR community
Creative Commons License

Manuscript detectives – submitted, accepted or published?

In the blog post “It’s hard getting a date (of publication)”, Maria Angelaki discussed how a seemingly straightforward task may turn into a complicated and time-consuming affair for our Open Access Team. As it turns out, it isn’t the only one. The process of identifying the version of a manuscript (whether it is the submitted, accepted or published version) can also require observation and deduction skills on par with Sherlock Holmes’.

Unfortunately, it is something we need to do all the time. We need to make sure that the manuscript we’re processing isn’t the submitted version, as only published or accepted versions are deposited in Apollo. And we need to differentiate between published and accepted manuscripts, as many  publishers – including the biggest players Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Springer Nature and Wiley  – only allow self-archiving of accepted manuscripts in institutional repositories, unless the published version has been made Open Access with a Creative Commons licence.

So it’s kind of important to get that right… 

Explaining manuscript versions

Manuscripts (of journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, etc.) come in various shapes and sizes throughout the publication lifecycle. At the onset a manuscript is prepared and submitted for publication in a journal. It then normally goes through one or more rounds of peer-review leading to more or less substantial revisions of the original text, until the editor is satisfied with the revised manuscript and formally accepts it for publication. Following this, the accepted manuscript goes through proofreading, formatting, typesetting and copy-editing by the publisher. The final published version (also called the version of record) is the outcome of this. The whole process is illustrated below.

Identifying published versions

So the published version of a manuscript is the version… that is published? Yes and no, as sometimes manuscripts are published online in their accepted version. What we usually mean by published version is the final version of the manuscript which includes the publisher’s copy-editing, typesetting and copyright statement. It also typically shows citation details such as the DOI, volume and page numbers, and downloadable files will almost invariably be in a PDF format. Below are two snapshots of published articles, with citation details and copyright information zoomed in. On the left is an article from the journal Applied Linguistics published by Oxford University Press and on the right an article from the journal Cell Discovery published by Springer Nature (click to enlarge any of the images).

 

Published versions are usually obvious to the eye and the easiest to recognise. In a way the published version of a manuscript is a bit like love: you may mistake other things for it but when you find it you just know. In order to decide if we can deposit it in our institutional repository, we need to find out whether the final version was made Open Access with a Creative Commons (CC) licence (or in rarer cases with the publisher’s own licence). This isn’t always straightforward, as we will now see.

Published Open Access with a CC licence?

When an article has been published Open Access with a CC licence, a statement usually appears at the bottom of the article on the journal website. However as we want to deposit a PDF file in the repository, we are concerned with the Open Access statement that is within the PDF document itself. Quite a few articles are said to be Open Access/CC BY on their HTML version but not on the PDF. This is problematic as it means we can’t always assume that we can go ahead with the deposit from the webpage – we need to systematically search the PDF for the Open Access statement. We also need to make sure that the CC licence is clearly mentioned, as it’s sometimes omitted even though it was chosen at the time of paying Open Access charges.

The Open Access statement will appear at various places on the file depending on the publisher and journal, though usually either at the very end of the article or in the footer of the first page as in the following examples from Elsevier (left) and Springer Nature (right).

 

A common practice among the Open Access team is to search the file for various terms including “creative”, “cc”, “open access”, “license”, “common” and quite often a combination of these. But even this isn’t a foolproof method as the search may retrieve no result despite the search terms appearing within the document. The most common publishers tend to put Open Access statements in consistent places, but others might put them in unusual places such as in a footnote in the middle of a paper. That means we may have to scroll through a whole 30- or 40-page document to find them – quite a time-consuming process.

 Identifying accepted versions

The accepted manuscript is the version that has gone through peer-review. The content should be the same as the final published version, but it shouldn’t include any copy-editing, typesetting or copyright marking from the publisher. The file can be either a PDF or a Word document. The most easily recognisable accepted versions are files that are essentially just plain text, without any layout features, as shown below. The majority of accepted manuscripts look like this.

However sometimes accepted manuscripts may at first glance appear to be published versions. This is because authors may be required to use publisher templates at the submission stage of their paper. But whilst looking like published versions, accepted manuscripts will not show the journal/publisher logo, citation details or copyright statement (or they might show incomplete details, e.g. a copyright statement such as © 20xx *publisher name*). Compare the published version (left) and accepted manuscript (right) of the same paper below.

 

As we can see the accepted manuscript is formatted like the published version, but doesn’t show the journal and publisher logo, the page numbers, issue/volume numbers, DOI or the copyright statement.

So when trying to establish whether a given file is the published or accepted version, looking out for the above is a fairly foolproof method.

Identifying submitted versions

This is where things get rather tricky. Because the difference between an accepted and submitted manuscript lies in the actual content of the paper, it is often impossible to tell them apart based on visual clues. There are usually two ways to find out:

  • Getting confirmation from the author
  • Going through a process of finding and comparing the submission date and acceptance date of the paper (if available), mostly relevant in the case of arXiv files

Getting confirmation from the author of the manuscript is obviously the preferable and time-saving option. Unfortunately many researchers mislabel their files when uploading them to the system, describing their accepted/published version file as submitted (the fact that they do so when submitting the paper to us may partly explain this). So rather than relying on file descriptions, having an actual statement from the author that the file is the submitted version is better. Although in an ideal world this would never happen as everyone would know that only accepted and published versions should be sent to us.

A common incarnation of submitted manuscripts we receive is arXiv files. These are files that have been deposited in arXiv, an online repository of pre-prints that is widely used by scientists, especially mathematicians and physicists. An example is shown below.

Clicking on the arXiv reference on the left-hand side of the document (circled) leads to the arXiv record page as shown below.

The ‘comments’ and ‘submission history’ sections may give clues as to whether the file is the submitted or accepted manuscript. In the above example the comments indicate that the manuscript was accepted for publication by the MNRAS journal (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society). So this arXiv file is probably the accepted manuscript.

The submission history lists the date(s) on which the file (and possible subsequent versions of it) was/were deposited in arXiv. By comparing these dates with the formal acceptance date of the manuscript which can be found on the journal website (if published), we can infer whether the arXiv file is the submitted or accepted version. If the manuscript hasn’t been published and there is no way of comparing dates, in the absence of any other information, we assume that the arXiv file is the submitted version.

Conclusion

Distinguishing between different manuscript versions is by no means straightforward. The fact that even our experienced Open Access Team may still encounter cases where they are unsure which version they are looking at shows how confusing it can be. The process of comparing dates can be time-consuming itself, as not all publishers show acceptance dates for papers (ring a bell?).

Depositing a published (not OA) version instead of an accepted manuscript may infringe publisher copyright. Depositing a submitted version instead of an accepted manuscript may mean that research that hasn’t been vetted and scrutinised becomes publicly available through our repository and possibly be mistaken as peer-reviewed. When processing a manuscript we need to be sure about what version we are dealing with, and ideally we shouldn’t need to go out of our way to find out.

Published 27 March 2018
Written by Dr Melodie Garnier
Creative Commons License

Plans for scholarly communication professional development

Well now there is a plan. The second meeting of the Scholarly Communication Professional Development Group was held on 9 October in the Jisc offices in London. This followed on from the first meeting in June about which there is a blog. The attendance list is again at the end of this blog.

The group has agreed we need to look at four main areas:

  • Addressing the need for inclusion of scholarly communication in academic library degree courses
  • Mapping scholarly communication competencies against training provision options
  • Creating a self assessment tool to help individuals decide if scholarly communication is for them
  • Costing out ‘on the job training’ as an option

What are the competencies in scholarly communication?

The group discussed the types of people in scholarly communication, noting that scholarly communication is not a traditional research support role either within research administration or in libraries. Working in scholarly communication requires the ability to present ideas and policies that are not always accepted or embraced by the research community.

The group agreed it would be helpful to identify what a successful scholarly communication person looks like – identifying the nature of the role, the types of skill sets and what the successful attributes are. The group has identified several examples of sets of competencies in the broad area of ‘scholarly communication’:

The group agreed it would be useful to review the NASIG Competencies and see if they map to the UK situation and to ask NASIG about how they are rolling it out across the US.

The end game that we are trying to get to is a suite of training products at various levels that as a community is going to make a difference to the roles we are recruiting.  We agreed it would be useful to explore how these frameworks relate to the various existing professional frameworks, such as CILIP, ARMA and Vitae. 

The approach is asking people: ‘Do you have a skills gap?’ rather than: ‘Do you (or your staff) need training?’. It would be helpful then, to develop a self assessment tool to allow people to judge their own competencies against the NASIG or COAR set (or an adaptation of these). The plan is to map the competencies against training provision options. 

Audiences

We have two audiences in terms of professional training in scholarly communication:

  1. New people coming into the profession – the initial training that occurs in library schools.
  2. Those people already in a research support environment who are taking on scholarly communication roles. 

The group also discussed scope. It would be helpful to consider how many people across the UK are affected by the need for support and training.

Another issue is qualifications over skills – there are people who are working in administrative roles who have expanded their skills but don’t necessarily have a qualification. Some libraries are looking at weighting past experience higher over qualifications. 

There needs to be a sense of equity if we were to introduce new requirements. While large research intensive institutions can afford professional development, in some places there is one person who has to do the scholarly communication functions as only part of their job – they are isolated and they don’t have funds for training. An option could be that if a training provision is to be ‘compliant’ with this group then it must allow some kind of free online training.

Initial training in library schools

As was discussed the previous time the group met, there is a problem in that library schools do not seem to be preparing graduates adequately for work in scholarly communication. Even the small number of graduates who have had some teaching in this area are not necessarily ready to hit the ground running and still need further development. The group agreed the sector needs to define how we skill library graduates for this detailed and complex area.

One idea that arose in the discussion was the suggestion we engage with library schools at their own conferences, perhaps asking to have a debate to ask them what they think they are doing to meet this need. 

The next conference of the library schools Association of Library and Information Science Educators is 6-9 February 2018 in Denver. Closer to home, iConference 2018 will be 25-28 March and will be jointly hosted by the UK’s University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. However, when we considered the conference options it became clear that this would not necessarily work, the focus of these conferences is academic focus, not practitioner or case studies. This might point to the source of some of the challenges we see in this space.

One of the questions was: what is really different now to the way it was 10-20 years ago? We need to survey people who are one or two years out from their qualifications.

Suggestions to address this issue included:

  • Identify which library schools are running a strand on academic librarianship and what their curriculum is
  • We work with those library schools which are trying to address this area, such as Sheffield, Strathclyde and UCL to try and identify examples of good practice of producing graduates who have the competencies we need
  • Integrate their students into ‘real life’, taking students in for a piece of work so they have experience

Professional Development option 1 – Institutional-based training

In the environment where there is little in the way of training options, ‘on the job’ training becomes the default. But is there a perception that on the job training comes without cost While the amount of training that happens in this environment is seen as cost neutral, it could be that sending someone on a paid for course could be more effective.

How much does it cost for us to get someone fully skilled using on the job training? There are time costs of both the new recruit and the loss of work time for the staff member doing the training. There is also the cost of the large amount of time spent recruiting staff because we cannot get people who are anywhere near up to speed. 

One action is to gain an understanding of how much it does actually cost to train a staff member up. 

Professional Development option 2 – Mentoring

There is an issue in scholarly communication with new people coming through continuously who need to be brought up to speed. One way of addressing this issue could be by linking people together. UKCORR are interested in creating some kind of mentoring system. ARMA also has a mentoring network which they are looking to relaunch shortly.

 The group discussed whether mentoring was something that can be brokered by an external group, creating an arrangement where if someone is new they can go and spend some time with someone else who is doing the same job. However, to do this we would need a better way of connecting with people. 

This idea ties into the work on institutional based training and the cost associated with it. We are aware there is a lot of cost in sharing and receiving info done by goodwill at present.

Professional Development option 3 – Community peer support events

Another way of getting people together is community and peer support, which is already part of this environment and could be very valuable. Between members of the group there are several events being held throughout the year. These range from free community events to paid for conferences. For example, Jisc is looking at running two to three community events each year. They recently trialled a webinar format to see if it is an opportunity to get online discussions going.

The group discussed whether we need more events, and what is the best way of supporting each other and what kind of remote methods could be used. There is a need to try and document this activity systematically.

Professional Development option 4 – Courses we can run now

The group agreed that while it might be too early for us to look at presenting courses, it would be useful to have an idea of who is offering what amongst the member organisations of the group and that we can start to glean a picture of what is covered. If we were to then map this to the competencies it helps decision making.

For example, UKSG have webinars on every month that are free which fulfils a need. Is there a topic we can put on for an hour?

 UKSG is planning a course towards the end of next year – a paid seminar face to face, outlining the publication process, particularly from the open access environment. This could be useful to publishers as well. It explains what needs to happen in a sequence of events – why it is important to track submission and acceptance dates. Pitching it to people who are new in the role and at senior managers who are responsible for staffing.

Professional Development option 5 – Private providers

Given the pull on resources for many in this sector we need to consider promoting and creating accessible training for all. So in that context the discussion moved to whether we were prepared to promote private training providers. This is a tricky area because there is such a range under the banner ‘private’ – from freelance trainers, to organisations who train as their primary activity to organisations who offer training as part of their wider suite of activities. Any training provision needs to look at sustainability, it isn’t always possible to rely on the goodwill of volunteers to deliver staff development and training.

For example, UKSG as an organisation is not profit-making — it is a charity and events are run on a non-profit basis. Jisc is looking at revenue on a non-profit basis to feed into Jisc’s support for the sector. ARMA work on a cost recovery basis – ARMA events are always restricted to members. Many of the member groups engage with private providers and pay them to come along and speak for the day.

We agreed that when we look at developing the competencies framework and identify how someone can achieve these skills we should be linking to all training provision, either through a paid course, online webinar or mentoring.  The group agreed we are not excluding private providers from the discussion. We are looking to get the best provision for the sector.

However, the topic came up about our own expertise. Experts working in the field already give talks at many events on work time, which is being paid for by their employer — who are in effect subsidising the cost of running the training or event. Can we use our own knowledge base to share this information amongst the community? Perhaps it is not about what you pay, it is what you provide into the community. 

Opening up the discussion

The group talked about tapping into existing conferences held by member organisations of the group to specifically look at this issue ‘branded’ under the umbrella of the group.  To ensure inclusion it would be good to have a webinar as part of the discussion at each of these conference so people who are not there can attend and contribute. Identified conferences were:

We also need to address other groups involved in the scholarly communication process within institutions, such as research managers, researcher developers and researchers themselves.

Next steps

  • Engaging with library schools to discuss the need for inclusion of scholarly communication in their academic library degree courses, possibly looking at examples of good practice
  • Discussion with NASIG about rolling out their scholarly communication competencies
  • Mapping scholarly communication competencies against current training provision options
  • Creating a self assessment tool to help individuals decide if scholarly communication is for them
  • Costing out ‘on the job training’ to evaluate the impact of this on the existing team

Attendees

  • Helen Blanchett – Jisc
  • Fiona Bradley – RLUK 
  • Sarah Bull – UKSG 
  • Helen Dobson – Manchester University 
  • Anna Grigson representing UKSG
  • Danny Kingsley – Cambridge University
  • Valerie McCutcheon – representing ARMA
  • Ann Rossiter – SCONUL
  • Claire Sewell – Cambridge University
  • Nick Shepherd – representing UKCoRR

 Published 27 November 2017
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley
Creative Commons License