Does my data look good in this?

…was the title of a conference/workshop on research data management in the creative arts I attended yesterday. We started off with this:

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It was one of several “Curious Items” placed on the tables around the room. Our task was to think of a title for the item, describe it, say what it was made from, decide why the object was created (its context) and decide on the purpose of the object (what we can learn from it). We decided to call our object “Mind Mattress”… The purpose of this exercise was to get us to recognise (if we hadn’t already) the difficulty of assigning specific and accurate information to arts and humanities ‘objects’ – unlike in science, we are not dealing in facts, but in ideas, emotions, concepts, and other ambiguous, unquantifiable things. This was followed by a presentation by Leigh Garrett, Director of the Centre for Digital Scholarship, Library and Student Services at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) on “Stuff and data: an introduction to research data management in the creative arts”, during which we had to answer questions:

  • What is research data in the creative arts?
  • Why do we want to manage research data in the creative arts?
  • What do we need to consider?

Answers to these questions (and more) can be found at in Leigh et al’s article on ARIADNE.  I will add links to the presentations from the day once they are sent out.

Next, we heard from Amanda Couch, a lecturer and artist from UCA. She works with food, in particular offal. She shared various aspects of her research (and her research data) – a case study. I found her comparison of Instagram  to a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ (or Wunderkammer) very interesting, as well as the use of Instagram as a way of capturing research data (as someone who is dyslexic and dyspraxic Amanda has found this visual/’wordless’ way of data collection very useful as a way of making a record of her practice).

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Part of my Wunderkammer (Instagram)

We then moved on to look at “Arts data management in the real world”; two case studies of the use of arts research data. The first was Glasgow School of Art – Dr Robyne Calvert and Nicola Siminson talked about their experiences of implementing research data management and how research data became essential to the rebuilding of the Mackintosh Building following the devastating fire in 2014.

The next case study was about engaging arts researchers with EPrints research repositories, presented by Stephanie Meece (UAL) and Amy Robinson (UCA). They talked about the Kultur project; the aim of which was

to create a transferable and sustainable institutional repository model for research output in the creative and applied arts…

This meant making quite a few changes to the standard EPrints ‘look and feel’ to make it more ‘arts friendly’. For example there is a much improved and increased use of images on the sites created for UCA and UAL; language has been changed to better reflect that used in the creative arts; there are different item types and sub-types available as options when adding items to the repository. We have (relatively) quite a lot of engagement with creative arts staff/researchers, and I wonder whether there are some simple customisations we could make to our repository in order to make it friendlier and easier to use for these folk (and others).

After lunch (yum), Daniela Duca from JISC spoke about current developments in research data management at JISC. She left us with two questions:(1) What should a next-generation research environment look like? (2) What skills do people need to prepare for research practice now and in the future? Perhaps topics for a future LRS Seminar?

We then had a “repository rodeo”. No horses or bulls were present, alas (or perhaps just as well). Instead, there were short presentations from Figshare, Arkivum and Artivity – all of which you can have a look at online instead of me fruitlessly writing about what was said.

We then split into groups again to think about the future of research data in the creative arts. I was in the group looking at service development. Only one person on the table was actually currently doing anything with research data management in their institution, and this was not specifically for creative arts research data. It was very interesting to hear about what they are planning/doing and one question that came out of our discussion was is it really a good thing to have a[n institutional] research data repository? which sounds like a weird question to ask in the context, but is actually a good point. There are plenty of places where people can put their research data that are not actually institutional research data repositories (e.g. subject or funder respositories), so do we really need to have our own research data repository? The answer is probably, ‘it depends’!

Finally, we looked again at our “Curious Items” and found out what they actually were. The name of our object was really “Breathair Hollow”, a “breathable polyester cushion substitute for urethene foam that uses a hollow yarn to reduce weight”. So there we are.

CPD25: Researchers and repositories

On Wednesday (11th May) I attended two events hosted by CPD25: Engaging and Supporting Researchers and Open Access and Repositories.

Engaging and Supporting Researchers

Although both the talks at this event were very interesting and informative, they weren’t quite what I was expecting – which was how to engage and support researchers from a library perspective in a higher education institution (i.e. what I’m trying to do as part of my current role). The first talk was by Glenn Cumiskey from the British Museum, about digital preservation at the British Museum. This was really fascinating – digital preservation is not an area I’m very familiar with, although it turned out that lots of what he had to say is quite relevant to my work with the institutional repository. It was also thought-provoking from an archives perspective (which also comes into my current role, albeit in a minor part), and also my other role as a cataloguer/metadata person. As I managed to write down his ‘five Vs’ – things to be taken into consideration when dealing with data – I will share them with you:

  • Volume (of data)
  • Velocity (the rate at which data is created)
  • Veracity (of metadata – can be inaccurate, go what is good enough for now [interestingly different from the ‘traditional’ view of cataloguing]
  • Value (of the data – we should not keep data that is not of value to the organisation)
  • Variety (of formats – issues such as software/hardware dependence, small publishers that may not be here in 1o years’ time, etc.)

Glenn finished his presentation by talking about what data should evoke, using the Lampedusa Cross as an example.

Next up: Mahendra Mahey. He spoke about British Library Labs, and about the weird and wonderful things people have done with British Library data sets and online collections. His slides are available on SlideShare.

Open Access and Repositories

The afternoon started with Andy Tattersall talking about altmetrics –  alternative measures of  the impact/influence/engagement of/with research, using social media rather than traditional methods such as citations and journal impact factors. It was great to learn about something I’d previously only had a vague awareness of. I think we definitely need to look at how we could use altmetrics with the repository – maybe looking at engagement with the library research Twitter feed (which includes a feed of new items on the repository). I also wrote down five points Andy made about the value of altmetrics, so here they are:

  • Altmetrics complement, not replace, traditional metrics
  • They help people understand how research is being received and used, and by who(m)
  • Almetrics are not intended as an indicator of quality
  • They can help provide further evidence of engagement and societal impact
  • They give credit for research outputs other than articles

You can see altmetrics in action, as it were, on many journal articles, wherever you see the altmetrics ‘donut’.

Andy has written a lot about this subject, including a blog post on the CILIP website. This video might also be useful if you want to find out more:

 

Stuart Lawson was next, with an overview of Open Access, which I do know a bit about. Although I didn’t know about Sci-Hub. I was sort of shocked by it(s existence), but then I have led a (mainly) quiet and innocent life. I was also quite impressed. Anyway, possibly the less said about that the better…I enjoyed Stuart’s talk and obvious enthusiasm for his subject…and now I know it’s possible to do a PhD about Open Access!

Christina Emery from Knowledge Unlatched spoke next. I’m afraid I didn’t make many notes, partially because I’d read a lot about Knowledge Unlatched for one of my appraisal objectives! It is a good idea, I think. Here is a handy video to explain what KU is all about:

Finally, Lara Speicher presented about UCL Press, the UK’s first fully Open Access university press. I learned a new concept/acronym/word: BOOC – book as open online content. I’m quite interested in this because (a) its relationship to Open Access monographs, which I’ve been researching for one of my appraisal objectives, and (b) because I’m interested in books and can be done with them in terms of different formats, arty stuff, their meaning and how humans related to them as physical (or not) objects, and their relationship to the electronic world.

There is a Storify of the tweets from the Open Access and Repositories sessions and you can follow the tweets from the Engaging Researchers sessions using .

A short and very belated report about Open Access Week

This Open Access Week (October 24-30, 2015 – yes this post is very belated), the repository team decided to try to make more contact with academic staff by running some drop-in sessions on the use of our institutional repository. These took place during lunchtimes in the staff common room. We put up posters about Open Access (OA) (produced by the research centre), handed out flyers about OA and how it works within the University (especially with reference to the REF and the repository) and set up a table with a laptop so that people could ask us questions about OA and the repository if they wanted to.

Sadly, we didn’t get very many takers, but at least we raised awareness a little bit, and I did have some conversations about the repository with staff I wouldn’t normally have contact with. It was nice to be on the main campus for a bit as well, and feel more integrated with the University for a couple of hours (the library building is not on the campus). Although we had limited success in terms of conversations with people I think it was a useful exercise in terms of ‘showing our faces’ and the opportunity to raise awareness of OA through being able to put posters and flyers where academic staff should see them. It was also good to work in liaison with the research centre and meet members of staff I had not spoken to before.

“Open Access Monographs and Publishing Models: Collaborative Ways Forward”

Last Monday (19th October) I attended a panel discussion held at Goldsmiths to hear a panel of experts share thoughts and ideas as part of a discussion about open access monographs (OAMs). I attended as part of my research into collaborative models for the publication of OAMs, which is one of my appraisal objectives.  This event was part of International Open Access Week 2015 and was partly a response to the  HEFCE report on Monographs and Open Access (January 2015) – this year’s theme was “Open for Collaboration”. This report (also known as the Crossick report) came out of research led by Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The report found that:

“There is no single dominant emerging business model for supporting open-access publishing of monographs; a range of approaches will coexist for some time and it is unlikely that any single model will emerge as dominant. Policies will therefore need to be flexible.”

The panel comprised  Martin Eve, Senior Lecturer in Literature, Technology and Publishing, Birkbeck University of London; Alison Jones, Managing  Editor, Open Access, Oxford University PressSarah Kember, Professor of New Technologies of Communications, Goldsmiths University of London and Goldsmiths PressJoanna Zylinska, Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London and Radical Open Access Group. Professor Mark d’Inverno, Pro-Warden for Research and Enterprise at Goldsmiths hosted the discussion and it was chaired by Professor Simon McVeigh,  Goldsmiths’ Academic Lead on Open Access and Practice Research.

The event abstract sums up the main directions of the discussion:

“What is often forgotten is that, alongside transparency of public expenditure, the impetus for open access is the ethical and appropriate sharing of valuable knowledge for the betterment of society.

The proposed panel seeks to discuss the potential of the open access monograph format to contribute to this process of ethical knowledge dissemination, whilst highlighting the challenges presently faced by the publishing industry to make this a viable and financially sustainable reality.

The discussion will involve a group of speakers who hold contrasting perspectives on how this transition to open access monograph publishing should be managed and how it may support or disadvantage their particular professional sector and ethical goals.

Ambitiously and in keeping with this year’s open access theme of collaboration, this panel seeks to encourage the development of collaborative thinking between various kinds of publishers and the academe, in order to promote the ethical sharing of knowledge.”

It was a really interesting discussion, and there was a lot of information to take in. I have made copious notes, which I won’t write out here. If you want to read a pretty good summary of what was said you could have a look at Jeremy Barraud, Caroline Lloyd and Goldsmiths Research‘s tweets (scroll down a bit and look for the hashtag #OAweek).

I suppose the main thing I took away from the evening was that not everyone thinks open access is wonderful! As someone who works on a repository and is supposed to promote open access I think I’d been living in a happy open access ‘bubble’ where nobody ever talked about the potential downsides (or dark, neoliberal, sides) of OA. I still think OA is a good idea, but listening to the panel and the discussion has definitely made me think more about its potential effects on academics and their freedoms and made me realising I have a lot more reading and research to do!

Further reading/listening:

Monographs and open access (HEFCE report)

Open Access, HEFCE, REF and the threat to academic freedom

Opening out from open access: writing  and publishing in response to neoliberalism

The Open Access debate: challenges, threats and promises (podcast)

OAPenUK

Open Access and monographs

Thoughts from ‘Open Access: Understanding the New Environment’

A couple of weeks ago (23rd October), I attended “Open Access: Understanding the New Environment”, an event hosted by the University of Kent as part of Open Access Week.

Half my working week is spent doing things with our institutional repository. Mainly, I amend and create metadata for the items that go into the repository, and sometimes I answer queries about it and help academic staff deposit their research. Open Access (OA) was something I’d heard a lot about in connection with repositories and other things, and I felt that I should try and find out more about it, both for my own development and in case I was ever asked about it!

The programme for the afternoon consisted of talks from a variety of speakers involved in OA in some way. I won’t write about them all here, because you can read an excellent summary of the day at Phil Ward’s blog, Research Fundermentals. You can listen to all of the talks online, should you so wish.

Although all the talks were of interest, the ones I found particularly interesting were Rosemary Hunter on “Gold, Green or in Between: Establishing an Open Access Journal” and Kevin Ashley’s talk on “Research Data Management and Open Access”. I’d come across OA journals in the course of my work on the repository, and it was fascinating to hear the story of, firstly, the difficulties experienced by academics and journal editors in dealing with big publishers, and secondly, about how an OA journal can be set up. After hearing Rosemary’s talk I, and others, I think, were left wondering why more people don’t set up OA journals in order to bypass many of the problems inherent to other forms of OA. As Phil writes:

[feminists@law, the OA journal] was light in terms of expense (a single Article Processing Charge (APC) could pay for the cost of a whole journal, using online OA), and flexible in terms of the type of media that could be accepted (it no longer had to be solely text-based); but it was not lightweight in terms of academic rigour or seriousness.

Kevin Ashley, director of the Digital Curation Centre spoke about the importance of research data to Open Access. This wasn’t something I’d really thought about before, but Kevin explained it all in an accessible way, arguing the case for the release of research data to (e.g.) avoid duplication of work and to expose ‘bad’ research. He argued that even if research didn’t achieve what it set out to do, the data from that research can still be useful to other researchers in the field, so even data from ‘failed’ projects should be published. I also found his talk interesting because of the fact that it was about data, and a lot of my job involves dealing with data in one form or another. The talk reminded me of the importance of good data and that my hours spent cataloguing and entering metadata into the repository are not in vain!

Although a lot of what was said in the talks was new to me, the speakers were engaging enough to make the information accessible, and I came away from the day knowing much more about OA than I did when I went in, and feeling more confident in my understanding of where my own role fits in to the Open Access environment.